Cristalino and the journey back (4)

Cristalino and the journey back (4)

When:  November 2019                Weather: Hot 30C

Leica M10P 35mm Summilux and 15mm Voigtlander.  Nikon P900

Our three night stay in Cristalino Lodge came to an end all too soon but we had one last morning…so we used it to pay one more visit to the 50m observation tower followed by an exploration of the nearby areas to look for the snowy browed manakin and trumpeter….before our boat trip back to civilisation and Alta Floresta….

Heading up to the observation tower again at 5am to catch the sunrise…


Daybreak over the canopy on our last morning


the morning colours tried to rival the setting sun from the previous evening…


and the mist settled over the forest…such a serene scene


a pair of macaws flew above the canopy

paradise tanager (2)

first bird of the morning….paradise tanager

paradise tanager

paradise tanager

swallow winged puffbird (5)

In the distance a pair of swallow winged puffbirds


orange cheeked parrot

One of the more spectacular parrots perched on a distant tree…the orange cheeked parrot

orange cheeked parrot (2)

orange cheeked parrot


mid morning …

red necked aracari

and a new toucan appeared…the red necked toucan

red necked aracari (2)

beautiful red necked toucan


far away two bright blue birds….



Spangled Cotingas

black girdled barbet

and then in the nearby trees, a beautiful black girdled barbet

black girdled barbet (2)

Male black girdled barbet

female black girdled barbet

the less spectacular but no less attractive female black girdled barbet


Bare necked fruitcrow


plain breasted ground dove

ground dove


from a long way off Jess heard this raptor calling


A white browed hawk


dusky chested flycatcher


a spider monkey looked up at us


whilst mum made a bridge with her body for junior to cross the gap between trees


so we headed down as the sun came up….Jess wanted to look for a trumpeter, antpitta and the elusive snow capped manikin….


a skulking shadow in the undergrowth heralded the trumpeter!

trumpeter (8)

several of them appeared and strutted down the path

trumpeter (7)

a brown winged trumpeter

trumpeter (3)

and as they walkd, one of them displayed…

trumpeter (2)

the tail feathers fanned out in a spectacular display….picture by Nik


spotted antpitta (2)

we then sought the antpitta and caught a glimpse of a large eye…

spotted antpitta (3)

It was indeed an Alta Floresta Antpitta..very very shy and skittish

spotted antpitta

Alta Floresta Antpitta

spotted antpitta (4)


Even though it was nigh our departure time, we went seeking the snow capped manikin….alas it was so skittish that although we found it all we got was a glimpse but no photographic record….

So back to the lodge to pack and get ready to leave…we still had time to see..

madeira parakeet

Madeira parakeets


Tapajos hermit was just outside our lodge


Departing the lodge on the boat, Jess and Christian piloted us one last time down the Rio Cristalino and Rio Teles Pires……here’s a tip…bring your camera on the boat….



another spider monkey performed for us


then Jess yelled Tapir! and there she was at the water’s edge


but she also had her calf with her!


A so-called watermelon baby tapir


This final sighting on the banks was the icing on the cake for us as we departed…

As we departed the river by car, there were several other sightings but unfortunately our driver this time was not so minded to stop for us to shoot….and just when we thought we were done with shooting,  we arrived at the Amazonica Floresta Hotel to settle our outstanding Cristalino Lodge bills and have lunch….this is an oldish hotel with a small garden but backed by some forest…..

lettered aracari

in the forested area, I shot this lovely lettered aracari

lettered aracari (2)

lettered aracari

blue-gray tanager

A blue gray tanager posed willingly near our dining table

blue-gray tanager (3)

Blue gray tanager which can be distinguished from the similarly coloured Sayaca tanager by the white shoulder on the wing

turquoise tanager

as if to end our amazonian adventure with a bang…this colourful bird landed right in front of us whilst we were having lunch…

turquoise tanager (3)

a spectacularly coloured Turquoise tanager

turquoise tanager (2)

Turquoise tanager bade us farewell


So our grand Pantanal/Amazon adventure ended after 6 nights with nearly 200 species sighted/photographed….truly a birdwatchers’ paradise.   It is an extremely long trek for birders from Asia; reckon on 24-30 hours getting to Sao Paulo and then another half a day’s travelling to get to the Pantanal and Amazonia.   Both were worth going to..the Pantanal for easier sightings but more basic accommodation and food…Cristalino for more scenic surroundings, better food and arguably more spectacular bird sightings.  I’d wait for Cristalino Lodge to install air conditioning before going…it was otherwise just the perfect location.    Highly recommended!


An uncommon visitor to my Singapore garden

When: October 2022 Temperature: 30C Nikon P950

A number of common birds are often seen in the Linear Park area near my home in Singapore…

red wattled lapwing
blue throated bee eater
white throated kingfisher

Some days we just hang around our garden where olive backed, crimson and brown throated sunbirds are frequent visitors….on this particular afternoon, my wife called me to the window to look at something in the garden….

a greyish, yellow and olive bird was skulking amongst the leaves…I thought just a common olive backed sunbird…
he then showed himself a little more…..a long decurved beak and partial white eye ring…not typical of the smaller sunbird

he then hopped over to our bird bath which had been sorely underused since we set it up…
He posed willingly….
the long decurved beak, incomplete eye ring, whitish throat with yellow body confirmed this was the Little Spiderhunter….
The smallest but commonest of the three spiderhunters we see in Singapore, it is not that commonly seen
He checked out the bird bath
and hopped in for a bath on this hot day
He liked my misting system for the plants and perched for a while preening himself
Such a delight to have this uncommon spiderhunter visit us in our garden!

As I’ve noted in previous blog posts, we sometimes don’t need to venture far to birdwatch….our own backyard sometimes suffices!

my small garden

Lake Maggiore, Milan and a few birds

When: September 2022 Weather: Hot 25-30C

Leica Q, Leica M11/35mm summilux, Nikon P950

A short 4 day visit to Milan started when we landed at Malpensa and picked up a car to take a drive to the nearby Lake Maggiore, less than an hour away. The sun was shining as we descended the hilly road into Stresa and the lake was stunning in it blue green colour. The Borromean Islands were easily seen from the shore and we decided to spend a few hours exploring Stresa rather than being stuck on a boat cruising between the islands…

The railway station in Stresa where we parked in a free white parking lot…..there’s plenty of parking here and it’s an easy walk into town…

The streets of Stresa were lined with interesting little shops

the view from Stresa across Lake Maggiore towards Pallanza

the pier where all the boat operators dock
and not far from the shore, our view of the Isola Madre, the largest of the Borromean Islands where there is a botanic garden….

Enjoying the view towards Isola Bella

Near the jetty a cormorant posed
From the cormorants we saw in Bangalore a few weeks ago to the Cormorants here in Italy….such an adaptable bird

Coot on the water

A rather smart sea gull on the pier
After a few hours in Stresa, we headed back to Milan to our hotel, the Melia Milano…..

I was concerned about whether I could park the hire car easily in Milan but as it turns out, there were plenty of nearby blue paid parking lots at 2 euro an hour and we just used the metro whilst in Milano.

of course no visit to MIlan is complete without visiting the church where…
the Last Supper mural by Leonardo da Vinci is….

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele

Just a short trip to Milan which is always interesting and the visit to Lake Maggiore was the icing on the cake.

Singapore Rail Corridor Birding

When: July 2022 730am Weather: Hot 25-30C

Nikon P950

Being a public holiday we did a little birding ramble along the Old Holland Road Linear Park and linked up to the rail corridor before heading north in the direction of the old Bukit Timah Railway station which was recently refurbished and conserved. The crowds were out and there was a mini traffic jam of people and bikes on the trail…not exactly condusive to birding! But the rail corridor was a place I had always wanted to bird at…

The Rail Corridor is where the old railway line between Malaysia and Singapore ran and when the station was moved away from Keppel Station, the railway track and sleepers were largely removed and a trail made for walkers and bikers.

We were greeted by a loud group of long tailed parakeets

We accessed the rail corridor along the linear park walkway just after the canal….

This is the back of the old Bukit Timah Railway Station, newly restored…the best birding was along this stretch …

The greenery behind the station on the right here was where we birded…

a sunbird flitted about in the bushes….likely a juvenile crimson can just make out tinges of red on the breast

Pacific Swallow

incessant melodious singing led us to several straw headed bulbuls…always a treat to see

a brilliant flash of yellow …..the common iora
pink necked pigeon
zebra dove posing

And as we returned to Old Holland Road via the linear park, a pair of magnificent pied oriental hornbills flew over us to cap a very nice bird ramble indeed….recommended

Birdwatching around Seoul: Namhansanseong, Gyeongancheong wetlands and Bongeunsa temple grounds

When: June 2022 Weather: Hot 25-30C Leica M10P 35 summilux, Nikon P950 We normally hold our annual meeting of Asia-Pacific eye surgeons every year but of course we had to cancel the 2020 and 2021 editions. It was pretty touch … Continue reading