Picking right off from where we left off…
After our evening in Fili, we decided to hit the road and head off to Parque Nacional Defensores del Chaco (Defenders of the Chaco National Park, or DNP as we called it); a few hours north.
On the way there we were treated with a lot of wildlife – unfortunately little of it was herpetofaunal, but even the birds in Paraguay are something to behold. The one herp on the way up was this Spirit Diminutive Snake (Psomophis genimaculatus) which is evidently not a commonly seen snake (whether it’s rare or not is hard to say in a country as little-herped as Paraguay.) It reminded me of a Pinewoods Snake back home.
Other animals from the drive up,
Jabiru Storks, a very interesting looking bird.
Caracara – there are several species in Paraguay. We have Crested Caracaras in Florida and I always thought it odd that they would have the name “Face-face” – but evidently the name is Guarani, a native language from Paraguay (and spoken by more of the population than spanish!) and it’s onomonopedic (is that a word?), sounding like their call.
Other things seen on the drive out:
I was happy for an upclose look at a Rhea after missing on pictures of them in Bolivia a couple years earlier:
The Bottle Tree; one of the most picturesque trees in the Chaco:
We got permission from one of the rangers to set up a tent onsite, so we pitched it and explored the grounds around the ranger station:
Beka found a young goat that she liked: I told her not to get too attached.
We headed out from the ranger station to drive the main road; it looked something like this:
We were hoping to get a little ways down it and to Cerro Leon, an interesting formation – a hill of sorts in the middle of the vast, flat Chaco. On the drive there we saw a couple of rabbit-like Chacoan Mara:
Water being as scarce as it is, any mud hole was an important resource for Lepidopterans (moths and butterflies) and we saw them by the hundreds:
There were also ubiquitous Armadillos – Paraguay actually has over a dozen species:
Finally we arrived at Cerro Leon and hiked up to get a view of the Chaco from on high:
That night we had an unfortunate realization that snake activity might be a bit depressed: a big, bright full moon. We saw one snake, a Yellow-bellied Leophis (Erythrolamprus poecilogyrus), and some other non-herps as well:
Interestingly enough, despite fact that this was the most remote place I’d ever been, I ran into someone I knew there – Paul from Fauna Paraguay (http://faunaparaguay.com/). I’d emailed back in forth with him quite a bit prior to coming; and he was having similar sparse luck on animals for the evening. The next morning after a late night of cruising we hit the road to return to Fili. On the way, interspersed between big trucks coming down from Bolivia we saw a peculiar shadow in the road.
Sure enough – a beautiful Argentine Boa. The color variant in the Chaco is absolutely gorgeous.
That’s all for tonight, hang around for part III