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!


Kaeng Krachan Birding (4) Peak and Sea of clouds

When: November 2022, Weather: Warm 25-30C. Nikon P900, 950, Leica Q and M11

Our final morning, we set off early for the summit to view the sea of clouds and do a bit more birding….it was a long 2 hour drive up the peak….

When we approached the summit, there were way too many people (it was a sunday after all) but our guide brought us to the end of the road where the King has his holiday residence….here the view of the clouds was good without the crowds
the road at the top of the mountain
first bird was this rather large dollar bird
and from a gazillion miles away this charming red rumped parrot hopped
yellow browed warbler
A green eared barbet which I initially mistook for a lineated barbet
and just before we descended, this lovely female white throated rock thrush entertained me for a few minutes
black throated sunbird

As we descended, we stopped off a a trail to try and find some of the larger hornbills, we soon heard them calling…and found several great hornbills perched on a high tree….they however took off quickly with loud whooshes from their great wings…a fitting farewell to a few great days in Kaeng Krachan National Park, in Thailand. Recommended

Kaeng Krachan Birding (1) Nana Resort

When: November 2022 Weather 20 to 30C

Nikon P900, Nikon P950, Leica Q, Leica M11/35mm Summilux

After our meeting in Bangkok(BKK), we spent two nights at the Nana resort just outside Kaeng Krachan(KK) National Park, a 3 hour drive from Bangkok. Just an hour outside BKK, we stopped for lunch at an unpretentious but very good seafood restaurant called Daeng Seafood restaurant….as good as it was unexpected! We had a veritable feast at very reasonable charges…

Daeng Seafood restaurant, apparently former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra dines here regularly
wonderful prawn dish….don’t miss this restaurant if your’re driving to KKNP

Replete, we drove on another 1.5 hours to the KK Park area where we arrived at the Nana resort, our home for the 2 nights…the greenery around us boded well for the birding….

Nana Resort Kaeng Krachan, nicer than we expected!
A beautiful river runs alongside the resort and the sight of several oriental pied hornbills in flight over the river was a welcome sight. They were also commonly seen around the resort
Oriental Pied Hornbills were easily seen
the resort grounds were pleasant enough with a butterfly enclosure
which housed some lovely butterflies
Red collared doves were plentiful in the evening light
chinese pond heron
green bee eater
Siamese pied starling
streak eared bulbul
at breakfast the next morning, this beautiful Black Baza watched over us from afar
his mate wasn’t far away
Sooty headed bulbul

Barn swallows

So this was a reasonable start to our stay in Nana Resort and a few birds before the serious birding started the next day….

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.