We had seen pink dolphins (Inia geoffrensis) in the Rio Negro before, but some weeks ago we went on a trip specifically to see dolphins. It was great, they would just swim around us. Yes, they were looking for the fish, but they were free to come and go. It was a very nice experience to see them so close.
Balbina and the blue-headed parrots
Last month we went for a weekend trip to Balbina, the main attraction was fishing for tucunare in the Balbina dam. I didn’t go fishing though. I stayed in the town, Balbina, and went for a walk around, until the edge of town. I could see the lake formed by the dam, and the dead trees on the lake. The dam was built to provide energy to Manaus, as a renewable source, however it emits so much methane that it turns out to be worst than a coal plant. I’ve written about that before (Weekend trip to Balbina). There is another view of the tree trunks on that post.
While looking at the lake, I could also hear a lot of parrots, and eventually saw a few of them. Blue-headed parrots (Pionus menstruus) were flying around, and some were resting on the canopy of nearby trees.
Piranhas at the market
This month’s meeting of the Photography group was at the recently inaugurated market in Manaus. It is a very nice market, the construction is from the colonial times, with material brought from England and France. The crafts section was my favorite, and the most colorful one. I found some piranhas there. The fruit and veggie section had just a few stands, but with lots of different herbs, dried and fresh. We got jambu for today’s lunch, pato no tucupi.
Cachoeiras – day trip to the waterfalls
Last Sunday we went on a day trip to Presidente Figueiredo with a group from Fotografia Manaus. It was a great trip, we discovered some new sites and had a great time. Here are a first set of photographs from the trip.
Is it a jaguar?
As we went into the forest last week, we stopped a couple of times to photograph trees and flowers. In one spot, we saw tracks on the road. I think they were from a jaguar, but it could also have been a mountain lion. A big cat for sure! Very exciting. My husband saw a black jaguar crossing the road near that spot a few months ago.
We saw many flowers like this, however most of them were up on the trees where the vines tangle around and go up into the canopy. This vine was growing on the floor next to the dirt road and we could take a close look at it. Many ants were on the flower, and some bees were visiting it too.
Last weekend we went for a walk to the Bosque da Ciencia. It was a short visit but we found a beautiful beetle, a blue weevil! It is a broad-nosed weevil (Curculionidae: Entiminae) with some blue on its legs and antenna.
Brazilian coloured beetle
This weekend we went for a walk to the Reserva Duke, in the northern part of Manaus. Part of the reserve is a botanical garden (Jardim Botanico) with nice trails in the forest and new exhibition areas in the forest. I really liked the little pirarucu we saw, it was just a few months old, and about 20 cm long. I will write a post about them later on. While we were looking at the exhibit about frogs and toads, I saw a beetle on the floor. I stopped paying attention to the frogs at that point. Here’s what I saw:
Into the forest
On our way to the research site. It is a long road through the forest. When one is lucky some animals can be seen crossing the road, ant eaters, wild boars, and last week a black jaguar! I wish I had been there.
I decided to take the challenge to photograph the sunset. It is a different subject from what I usually photograph. I am happy with this result. I want to try different locations around Manaus to have a different view of the bridge.
The bridge, Ponte Rio Negro, links Manaus and Iranduba, and was inaugurated less than two years ago. We have crossed it a couple of times.
Amazon or South American manatee (Trichechus inunguis) is commonly hunted for meat and oil along the Amazon River. I don’t know how people manage to find them, but they do, and it is common that little ones are left without their mothers. They also get hurt by the boats. There are programs to help manatee populations recover and to reintroduce them in some areas with support of the local people. Researchers at INPA are also working on this. This photograph was taken at the Bosque da Ciencia where some manatees are brought in for recovery.
brown pale-fronted capuchin
Last year, on my birthday, I went on a boat trip on the Amazon. We made a stop at a floating restaurant, and nearby we saw a group of brown pale-fronted capuchins (Cebus albifrons (Humboldt, 1812)).
Two weeks ago I saw a couple of Guan on the mango tree in our garden. We’ve identified them as Spix’s guan (Jacu-de-spix)
Penelope jacquacu. The one on the left was cutting leaves of maracuya and giving them to the one on the right. After a while they each rested on separate branches of the tree. It was the first time I saw them, and I haven’t seen them back since.
This long-horn beetle (Cerambycidae) was near one of the room doors of the Arawak hostel in Praia do Açutuba, Iranduba, Amazonas. The hostel was the meeting point for the Grupo de Fotografia Manaus March trip. Every month, on the first Sunday, a trip is organized, to a park, a special event or a nearby site like the beach where we went two weeks ago.
Amazon hister beetle
I went to spend a couple of days out in the field, that is the Amazon forest, as there was going to be a good churrasco and fishing the next day. Both were delicious meals! This beetle was floating on a little stream, we took it out and I took some pictures of it. It was complicated because of the color and it was so bright out. Different light conditions provide with a challenge when taking pictures. It was a good practice, I think it came out very nice.
Encontro das águas – beginning of the Amazon River
O Encontro das Águas.
The meeting of the waters, is where the Rio Negro flows into the Rio Solimões to form the Amazon River.
The Solimões comes from the Brazilian-Peruvian border, down from the Andes. It is light brown in color. The Rio Negro originates in eastern Colombia, and then joins the Orinoco in Venezuela, and when it enters Brazil it receives the name Rio Negro. It is colder, heavier, slower-moving and very acidic compared to the Solimões. It is due to these differences that they flow side by side without mixing for several kilometers, and thus the meeting of the waters occurs. This is a must for tourists that come to Manaus.
And traveling on a boat down the river admiring this phenomenon is how I celebrated my birthday this year.
Weekend trip to Balbina
I saw this macaw, along with many others at the Centro de Preservação e Pesquisa de Mamíferos Aquáticos (CPPMA – Preservation and Research Center for Aquatic Mammals) near Balbina, Amazonas.
Sometime in the 1980’s a hydroelectric dam was constructed on the Rio Uatumã, north of Manaus. A great extension of land was flooded due to the dam. This construction has been defined as an economic, social and ecological tragedy, as much more methane is released than the amount of carbon dioxide expelled if they had continued to use thermoelectric plants burning oil as was previously done. It has been categorized as the most inefficient dam in Brazil.
The energy company from the hydroelectric dam sponsors the CPPMA in order to promote the preservation and research of aquatic mammals. The main focus of the center is on amazon manatees (Peixe-boi), they have projects on rehabilitation of orphan or injured animals, reintroduction into natural habitat as well as education programs.
The Center is located near Presidente Figueiredo, land of the waterfalls (A terra das cachoeiras), as they say in their town brochure. During our day trip we also visited one of the many waterfalls on the area, Cachoeira Pedra Furada. It was very nice to go for a swim there.
I saw this spider outside, next to the chicken enclosure. I think it is from the genus Argiope. After I saw several smaller ones on the fence.
dancing jumping spider
The courtship behavior of jumping spiders is amazing, the male dances and produces noises to impress the female. The male in this photograph is dancing in front of the female, he extends his legs, moves them quite rapidly, tiptoes to one side and the other. These spiders are in the subfamily Lyssomaninae and are usually found on the underside of leaves, where they blend with the surroundings.
Just emerging after developing on the little pond in the garden.
I think it’s a species of Orthemis, in the Libellulidae family. The males are very territorial and usually red or purple colored, whereas the females are dark brown. I’ve seen females laying eggs in the pond, and the male looking over his territory from some branches nearby. This dragonfly was seen on Eichhornia, the water hyacinths we have on the pond, Saturday October 15, 2011.
a few sketches
I’ve started sketching insects from the garden, here are a few.
We have a few floating plants in the garden pond. The flowers only last for a day; they are pretty purple with a yellow spot in the middle (I will try to do a sketch with color next time there is a flower).
any ideas on what this insect is?
IT’S A BEE! It belongs to the tribe Ericrocidini. It was suggested that it can be a specimen of Mesocheira bicolor. However, I am not sure of the species yet. These bees are parasitic of other bees, they lay their eggs on the nest of other bees. They wait near the entrance to the nest on the ground, and when they see the adults leave the nest, the female goes in and lays her eggs in there.
The males have this behavior of hanging on vegetation for the night, they release pheromones and usually other males come and they spend the night in groups protected by the vegetation. I was told that the males come back to the same area to spend the night, so I will try to look for it or more around the garden tonight, I might have luck and find it again.
On the last visit to the Bosque da Ciencia of INPA (about a month ago), I saw some ants new to me. I think one belongs to the genus Dolichoderus, which are usually associated with honeydew producing insects and, based on a post on the Myrmecos blog, I believe it is the “long-necked ant of the Amazon” Dolichoderus attelaboides.
And when we were heading out, I saw another interesting ant, also new to me. Daceton armigerum, classified as one of the most beautiful ants in the Myrmecos blog. Daceton armigerum has a nice honey coloration and a heart-shaped head with large jaws which caught my attention. Although I didn’t find them in the canopy where they are known to be found, they were in the ground with other species of ant, much smaller, which I still haven’t been able to identify.