Jaguar by Phil Palmer, Pantanal 2014


                                                                                                                 Harpy Eagle by Phil Palmer, Pantanal 2014





Just back from the Pantanal tour, I just couldn't wait to put up a video of our Harpy Eagle.

We were greeted by our local guide at the airport who told us that the birds were not breeding this year, and that the previous 7 birding groups to visit this bird's territory (the most accessible and reliable in the world) had failed to see one.....what a downer!!!

We pressed on with the trip and on reaching the site, decided not to go and sit under the old nest as others had done, spending days just hoping for a glimpse. Instead we opted to go birding, hoping that we would see one glide through the forest. Within an hour, a distant grey patch deep in a shady hole inside a green tree had become a massive scope full of Harpy Eagle!

We soaked up the views for an hour at least, getting quite close as she seemed unconcerned at our presence. And why should she? She was the biggest eagle in the world and even though other eagles soared above, she didn't even have to look at them, because none would ever dare to enter her airspace.

The following day we passed her old nest and when the heat tempted customers to the pool, I set off to find her again. This time she had moved high up a hillside that involved a midday-heat hike and paddle through a stream. The flies were biting and I had to constantly wet my shirt in the stream to keep cool, but I was allowed to sit beside her, watching in awe as she shook mosquitoes from her crown. She called softly, only loud enough for me to hear because I was a few feet away, and the male answered; equally softly. Now I was convinced that she was just saving energy because she was developing eggs inside her. I know eagles are lazy, but she had not eaten in the 24 hours I had been in the valley and was reluctant to start any kind of flying show, let alone tackle an armadillo or marmoset breakfast. The male answered once, but remained far away.

The next day, we continued birding, notching up Bare-necked Fruitcrow and a trio of trogons, only to have a Harpy glide right past us in the forest. Again she sat in a tree for all to see. The male flew in and landed nearby, grabbed a big six-foot stick, and flew off across the valley towards the old nest site. She followed.

To see a Harpy Eagle needs luck and planning, so any view is a real privilege. But to be close enough to see a glint in one's eye, or see the sand flies drink from her eyelids, is just one of those magical birding moments that sticks in your mind forever. What a bird.

Phil Palmer September 2014


BRAZIL, Pantanal Tour, 2014


Our tours show customers some amazing creatures but of course, there are certain species that raise the pulse more than others. At Bird Holidays, we pride ourselves in being able to deliver sightings of some of the most prized. In the Pantanal, these include the Jaguar and Harpy Eagle, which until recently were almost impossible to see well.

Given that Paul and Roger led the way in bringing the possibility of seeing a Jaguar during a Brazilian holiday to UK travellers, we have built upon our success, by adding a reliable site for Harpy Eagle. You will see from the selection of photos below, that we strive to get the best views with minimal impact on these animals.

The photographs below are from our 2014, taken by Phil Palmer










it is possibly the most stunning heron in the world with fine blue filament feathers on its neck.





the river bank would be filled with butterflies taking salts


while watching a Jaguar, this Giant Otter was chewing on a pintado catfish by our boat.



both Sunbittern (above) and Sungrebe (below) were seen on the river.




Jabirus feed by scooping up litres of water and dribbling it out, while retaining food.


Rufous-tailed Jacamars behave like bee-eaters


Little Cuckoos creep quietly through the canopy.


Band-tailed Antbird

Silver-beaked Tanager.



Great Potoo

Black-fronted Nunbird

Boat-billed Heron.


Blue-throated Piping-Guans

Capped heron



Barred Antshrike (male above, female below).




Roadside Hawk

Brazilian Porcupine


Chestnut-eared Aracari


Bare-faced Curassow


Capybara  in the rain


courting Yellow-billed Terns.



Pied Lapwing


jacana showing its spurs

Southern Screamers

Yellow-rumped Cacique




Vermilion Flycatcher

Scaled Dove


Pale-crested Woodpecker

Southern Caracaras flighting

Band-tailed Nighthawks at dusk

Fishing Bats

Chapada National park

Red-crested Finch



Swallow Tanager


Grey-headed Kite


Black-faced Tanager

White-rumped Tanager - a special bird of the cerrado



Shrike-like Tanager


Rusty-backed Antwren


White-eared Puffbird (above and below)


Barred Antshrike


Rufous-collared Sparrow




Least Grebe .... they're behind you !

Harpy eagle country

White Woodpecker


Tapir at night

Amazon Kingfisher





Black-and-White Hawk-eagle

Black Hawk


Brown Jacamar

a homeless Burrowing Owl













Bare-necked Fruitcrow



more Giant Otters















Buff-necked Ibis


Rufous-tailed Jacamar

King Vulture


Amazon Kingfisher

Ringed Kingfisher

Hyacinth Macaw

Red-and-Green Macaw

Helmeted Manakin


Amazonian Motmot


this Ornate Hawk-eagle buzzed the Harpy Eagle as she sat in the shade.



Great Potoo


Roseate Spoonbills roosting







marmosets are present in good numbers in many forests


Rufescent Tiger-heron

Toco Toucans









Harpy Eagle digiscoped by Roger on this trip. This huge bird showed exceptionally well, calling and flying around, seemingly unconcerned by our presence.

Another Pantanal trip completed and another three Jaguars seen! Here are our first shots to be emailed in by regular customer Paul Kingsnorth.





Alastair Rae's wonderful shots from the 2012 tour can be seen here

Karen Hargreave has kindly shared some of her amazing images from the Pantanal with us. Click here to see more on her Picasa page.




Roger has just returned from the 2012 trip. The first few photographs are just coming in, including this superb adult and well-grown chick Harpy Eagle. (photos thanks to tour participant, Phil Jones)





In August 2011 Roger visited South America's prime wetland, the Pantanal, in search of rare birds and elusive mammals. Highlights included three Jaguars, Giant Anteater, Southern Tamandua, Brazilian Tapir and Ocelot, not to mention hundreds of bird species. Here are a few of Anne's pictures. More can be found on her Picasa site here

Jaguar cub swimming to join its mother

Southern Tamandua (tree anteater), and Hyacinth Macaws

Greater Rhea, Giant Otter and Capped Heron


Kay Preston also sent us these photographs taken during our 2011 trip

Hyacinth Macaws at their roost site

Nacunda Nighthawk outside our hotel

Rufous Hornero, the original Ovenbird

Jabirus in the Pantanal can be very obliging

Capybara family, jaguar lunch!

the immaculate Pied Lapwing



Capped Heron


Wood Storks are abundant here

Giant Otter eating piranha


A rare Marsh Deer stag crossing the river

On our way to Sunbittern


Blue-throated Piping Guan


Great Potoo at a daytime roost

Southern Caracara, with the full red flush to the face


Orange-backed Troupial glows in the trees


Boat-billed Heron


Amazon Kingfisher


Brown Capuchin


Grey-necked Woodrails are common and showy in the Pantanal


Our lodge at Pixaim




Rufescent Tiger Heron adult


Rufescent Tiger Heron immature



Phil's photographs on this page were taken during Roger's Tour to Brazil. Phil joined the group as a client having heard how good it was and he was not disappointed .

This was our fifth trip to the country and it was the fifth tour that celebrated seeing Jaguar.

In addition, Phil stayed on for 2 weeks to recce new parts of the country. Roger had already done some exploratory visits and Paul will continue this reconnaissance work in December. This is in readiness for a different Brazil itinerary. There are some additional pictures from extension to wet your appetite.


We spotted a Giant Anteater in the Pantanal. It allowed us to get close views as long as we remained down-wind of its sensitive nose.

Later, Phil was able to spend time watching another digging for ants. By keeping silent, still and down-wind, the creature slowly approached to 2m, before Phil's nerve went and he retreated. These animals are said to be able to open up the chest of a man with their powerful claws.


The claws on this animal were about 2 inches long.

A family of Giant Otters were in the river in the Pantanal. They approached our boat too close to focus on at times!


This Tropical Screech Owl was one of a pair that called outside my bedroom!




Campo Flicker is a big ground-loving woodpecker that is common in dry open grasslands.

Aplomado Falcons are one of the smartest of raptors. This one moved from tree-to tree as we tried to pass it.

Immature Tiger Herons have a whacky crest that can be raised to threaten any stork that gets too close.

Male Snail Kites specialised in eating crabs on this visit rather than Apple Snails.

This Sun Bittern was bothered by a fly that kept landing on its bill as it tried to fish. After shaking the fly off a few times, it ate it allowing it to hunt in peace.

The Do-ype trees were in full flower along the road into the Pantanal.

Snail Kite

This American Pygmy Kingfisher had a mayfly on its bill.

Being a nightjar nut, Phil opted to try and get some flight shots of Nacunda Nighthawks, while others watched them from the shade by the pool.

Jacanas were tiny compared to the giant water-lilies.

This Ringed Kingfisher watched from one of the less 'solid' bridges in the Pantanal.

Hyacinth Macaw is one of the star attractions here.

These Nunbirds were singing in a chorus together, while swinging on the branch.

This Jaguar was hiding beneath a tree enjoying the shade above the river.

It was probably waiting for a quiet moment to swim across the water, as it moved along the bank beside our boat rather than retreating into the jungle.



After a while it sat down by the bank again to watch the tourists pass by.

More Nacunda Nighthawks. These birds feed over the open waters and grasslands of the Pantanal.





Please note: The above photographs were taken on previous trips. Itineraries change from time to time and therefore you cannot rely on these photographs as being an exact representation of what can be expected on a future tour. For details of the each tour, you should refer to the brochure write-up.



click here for details of our next tour to this destination

home page