I am not an avid birdwatcher, but I really enjoy watching birds in the tropics, as there are so many different species. In particular, one of my favorite birds are the Kingfishers. These medium sized birds typically live along a stream, a slow moving river or a pond.
In tropical America, the number of Kingfishers species living along the same riverbank can sometimes be three or four. Even though their habitats overlap somewhat, each species of Kingfishers are very distinct, have different habits and occupy their own specific niche.
On my most recent trip to South America (Bolivia and Brazil), I went to two locales where Kingfishers are readily observed – Rio Beni and Madidi National Park of Bolivia’s Amazon Basin, and the Pantanal, a very large expanse of marshlands located in western Brazil.
Funny thing - along Rio Beni, I saw only one Kingfisher – I believe it was a Amazon Kingfisher - however while I was staying in the Pantanal, the Kingfishers - in particular the Ringed Kingfisher - was by far the most commonly seen bird along the river. I guess you could say they were so common that they were a dime a dozen. They are very vocal birds, and when disturbed they will often take flight across the river.
I would have liked the tour guide to just park the motorboat somewhere not far from the river bank and just sit there quietly for an hour or so, where I could watch the Kingfishers go fishing. They are so fun to watch.
Truly one of the most memorable highlights of my trip happened while staying in the Pantanal. My tour guide took me out on a late night boat ride along the Rio Miranda. Shining his high beam searchlight across the riverbank, apparently he spotted some creature in the trees. As he quietly parked the boat near the riverbank, he pointed with his flash flight - on low beam of course - into the tree canopy. Lo and behold, I saw a Amazon Kingfisher sleeping on a tree branch about 8 feet from the ground level.
The creature was truly startled from his slumber by the two human intruders, and he made a quick beeline into the nearby bushes. The memory is absolutely priceless!