“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” –Mark Jenkins

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Day 4 - Piuval

4:30am start in search of a Giant Anteater which has been sighted recently - Ricardo spotted it from about 500 yards out in near darkness - David then checked the wind direction and explained the route we needed to take on foot to get into position - it was a wide arc, across open tussocky grassland, but few fences and few ditches, so we set off - travelling light (camera and beanbag only) and within a few minutes were within shooting range. Soggy bum, sodden trousers and a lot of sweat made me a perfect mosquito target, but nothing could have dampened my spirits stalking that gentle giant (although David tells us they can be quite vicious too if provoked) - it was magical. We got very close, for a very long time, lots of moving and I really need to reduce the time it takes me to get from stalking to crouched and shooting as it was a constant battle to stay downwind - I really didn't realise they move so much or so quickly! Awesome creature.
The stalk ended after an hour when the group found ourselves separated by a wire fencing, three on one side and 3 on the other - we think the "Ant bear" heard the fence twanging and trotted off into the undergrowth. Totally amazing experience.
sunset on a Samsung S4!
We returned for some breakfast and dry clothes and then ventured out again to some water pools with a wooden bridge where we found a Ferruginous Pygmy Owl (or was it a "Little Owl"?) which just wouldn't play ball and a very pretty woodpecker. Then back to the lodge for a lesson in auto-focusing - even more confused!!! and very frustrated as every single one of my little owls is slightly soft - Grrrrrrrr.
Lunch gave me some time to calm down and practise around the lodge on the fence posts whilst David and Ricardo returned to the pools to set up/build bird hides for us all to spend tomorrow morning in. When they returned, we took a frustrating drive down the Transpantaneira to the gate where all bird life seemed to be on the left hand side of the van - when I was sat on the right - Black collared hawks, Rufescent Tiger Heron, Kingfishers etc.
floating water hyacinth
We pulled up at another bridge over water pools and spent the dusk hour shooting water hyacinths in bloom
and playing abouth with auto HDR function in my K-5, that was until a massive storm arrived - impressive fork lightning and a mass of dark clouds rolled in towards us - then came the wind... with surprising speed too... it took David's camera and tripod down with such force it broke the lens away from the body - and then whipped up enough road dust to fill the void ten times over. The camera was wounded, possibly fatally. Not a good situation to be in - needless to say the drive back was a little tense. We were worried too about the hides and whether or not they would still be there in the morning. Rain lashed the windscreen as we drove back in silence, no-one really knowing what to say.
When we arrived back at the lodge, thankfully the staff were waiting to dash out from reception with umbrellas to get us and our gear back into the dry.
Dinner was a similar affair to last night except now we had something to celebrate... David had managed to repair his camera - all was working again. Phew. This led to a number of beers, and then a few more. Time to get to know the group a bit better and have a good laugh along the way.

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