Our current time zone: GMT +8 (We're home in Singapore!)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Birds Of Brazil

In Foz do Iguassu, we stayed at a guesthouse called Pousada Evelina. The house had pretty bedrooms, a nice swimming pool and friendly staff who were proficient in English (a welcomed relief when one's grasp of the Portuguese language hasn't progressed between ola and chao.) While we had received a fairly warm welcome to the place, what cheesed us off was the proliferation of "friendly" little notices pasted all over the walls highlighting some not-so-friendly figures:

Use of WiFi: 2.50 Reals per connection
Use of shower after check-out: 5.00 Reals per shower
Use of kitchen & microwave: 10.00 Reals one-time charge
Use of phone for local calls: 1.00 Real per call
Change of towel: 2.00 Reals per towel
If guest is caught removing food from the breakfast room: FINE 10.00 Reals
If guest is caught using sunscreen lotion in pool: FINE 20.00 Reals

Rather off-putting isn't it? We only gradually discovered all these extra charges after we had checked in. We didn't even realise that there was a charge for the use of the kitchen until we returned from the supermarket with bags of raw meat. Too late. No choice. Pay lor.

And they call themselves a "guesthouse". While we appreciate and respect the need for house-rules, is it really necessary to impose fines on your paying guests? We wondered whether this is how visitors to Singapore feel when they see all the warnings and fine notices pasted all over our public spaces, buses and MRT trains.

Maybe the situation back home is less grating on the nerves because the warnings don't pretend to be friendly and end off with "Thank you for your cooperation" + irritating Smiley Face. Grrrrrrrrr.

After paying an extra 16 Reals for WiFi, use of the kitchen and one phone call to a travel agent to book our bus tickets to Florianopolis, it was nice to find out that we could actually save some money on the entrance fee to the Bird Park through the guesthouse. We saved just a couple of Reals each, but hearing the word "discount" instead of "extra charge" made it feel like alot more.

The Bird Park is located next to the entrance to the Brazilian side of the Iguassu Falls, allowing visitors to enjoy 2 major attractions in 1 day. We chose to visit the birds before the falls, which turned out to be the wise thing to do because all tourist groups rush to see the falls in the morning, then descend in droves upon the bird park in the afternoon.

With the exception of another couple, we had the bird park all to ourselves! Commendable effort went into designing the layout and use of space within the small park. After being guided through the initial exhibit of colourful (and very VERY noisy) parrots, visitors can choose different trails leading through various simulated environments, such as the African grasslands, or the Brazilian rainforest and pantanel (wetlands).

Rainbow-hued parrots! I love it when they say "ola, ola" instead of the usual "hello"

While most of the birds on display originate from Brazil, a few foreign workers have been flown in and they live peacefully alongside the locals.

Demoiselle Crane from Central Asia. Aka "evil-old-man-in-Chinese-period-dramas bird" cos of the shock of straight white hair hanging from its bald head.

Black Crown Crane, also from Asia. This one hops, leaps and whoops as part of the mating dance. Very interesting to watch. And imitate.

Some strange pre-historic-looking bird with a bone on his head. We called this the Dinosaur Bird.

Within the bird park, there are large cages which visitors can enter to see the birds up close, instead of peering at them from afar through a fence.

I don't know what bird this is, but it let us get really close without it pecking our eyes out. Nice birdie.

Our favourite walk-through exhibit was the rainforest enclosure replete with large toucans, shocking-red Ibis, pink spoonbills and some strange turkey-like birds with brilliant iridescent combs walking, hopping and flying all around us. While it was a far cry from our bird-watching tour in Mindo where we had to work hard to spot birds in their natural habitat, we enjoyed watching the birds in close proximity without having to resort to using binoculars.

Upskirt shot of a cheeky Red Ibis

Our favourite birds were the friendly toucans who posed and preened for our cameras. We were surprised that instead of avoiding us, they landed right in front of us and even hopped alongside as we walked through the exhibit.

Hold that pose...

They actually tilted their heads from side to side before the camera, as if trying to find the best angle to show off!

This one was so tame that it hopped closer to touch my hand and nudged me for a chest-tickle

NOT an amused bird

Practically begging to be photographed!

Hmmmm... now where was my picture again....

Yups, that's me!

We spent an inordinate amount of time with the toucans watching them feed on nuts, sip water from the pond and even tussle with one another while hovering in the air in a frenzied battle-of-the-beaks. Ever wondered why toucans don't ever fall beak-over-toes or get stiff necks from holding up their oversized appendages? It's because although big, a toucan's beak is actually very light and spongy. When their beaks clash during a fight, the loud clacking sound that results is not unlike that of kids play-battling with plastic toy swords! Still, getting too friendly with birds wielding big sharp beaks is not a good idea.

I think the toucans really enjoyed our company. A couple of them were reluctant to let us leave...

Figuring out how to get pass the danger zone without losing an eye. Or two.

Heh heh, happy to have left the enclosure with both eyes intact. Pity that I had to trade in the husband for permission to walk free though.

Hooray for a simple inexpensive excursion that brought us hours of fun and pleasure!

Don't think I don't know that you're laughing at me!


Jennifer Goh said...

hahaha.. i LOVE this post, u did a great job on your writing about the birds!! and i finally know how an ibis looks like! :)

Tracy Su said...

I like these toucans, nice captions too, very cute. Hafta admit, I'm not so keen on birds with wobbly wattles and such. Like looking at someone with piles on their face...not that I know what piles looks like...

So where's the picture of Dannie's fingers being pecked off by a toucan??

Yi Lin said...

Jen: Heh, yes, an Ibis that doesn't wag it's tail and chew up stuff. I think there are wild ibis in Singapore - they either migrate here for part of the year or stopover in Singapore on their migration route (just like tourists!) You should be able to see some at Sungei Buloh, but just white ones. First time I've seen a bird that is completely bright red too!

Trace: You're hilarious!!! That's a very disturbing thought tho - piles on the face. Wattles can make otherwise impressive birds look ridiculous. We saw a King Vulture (big scary name, right) holding his wings outspread and looking mighty majestic - until he shook his head and the wattle between his eyes flopped limply back and forth over his beak. I just laughed outright at it. So silly!

Actually it was the toucans who bullied Dan, not the other way around. They kept stalking him so he did the sensible thing - kept all his appendages away from theirs. The toucans did get a fair bit of his middle finger in their faces, although it was very quickly retracted every time.

Debra said...

Ack where's the head of the last bird?!!!

Pretty pictures - the colours on the toucans are so vivid they look almost unreal!

Dave and Deb said...

Wow, Fantastic photos! So cute that you bonded with the Tucans. I don't think that I would want to leave them, they seem adorable. Hate it when there are all of those hidden charges at places. Here in India we have free wifi at a restaurant, but they charge more for food and drinks making it not so worth our while....and yet we keep coming back:) Thanks for stopping by our blog and so glad to have found yours, it is excellent!

suena's cuz said...

the 'dinosaur bird' is an australian cassowary.

toucans are so cute!

Yi Lin said...

Debra: YES! Finally somebody asked about the poor birdie at the end. The mystery will be revealed in the next post! We noticed that the more dominant birds have stronger colours. This poor toucan who was being bullied and hiding in a corner was terrorised until his feathers faded. He looked really miserable and washed-out. Poor thing.

Dave and Deb: Welcome to our blog! We have never been very interested in bird-watching (unless we're frying chicken or keeping an eye on the roast turkey) but we've come to love birds cos of this trip. They are REALLY comical. There should be lots of different bird species to see in India. No toucans I think - but there should be Indian fortune tellers whose parrots will pick a card fortune for you. Look out for them!

Suena's cuz: Thanks for identifying Dino Bird. I kept thinking that it's name was Great Casserole but I knew that wasn't quite it...

Forever Living

Forever Living
Read about the products, then contact our wellness sponsor!
Related Posts with Thumbnails