Thursday, April 4, 2013

Belize - Day 4 (Continuation of our 2005 trip)

2/17/2005 (Thursday) – We were up at 6:15 for a 7:00 breakfast. We saw a Magnolia Warbler from the deck while we ate. We headed up to the Escarpment with Raul at 7:30. On the way we enjoyed good looks at male and female Great Currasow alongside the road. We stopped to bird the Sylvester Village area, finding Blue-black Grassquit, Baltimore Oriole, Lesser Swallow-tailed Swifts, and Gray-breasted Martins. As we climbed on the road to the Escarpment we flushed a pair of Spectacled Owls. One flew across the road with the other flying out and then back to the original side. They had distinctly dark heads and upper bodies with much lighter lower bodies. I saw the “spectacles” on the bird that flew across the road. Farther along we saw a Rufous Piha perched and then a lovely “Thunder and Lightning” snake crossing the road. The snake was about six feet long but quite slender. It cooperated for photos. Later we saw a Northern Royal Flycatcher. We noted the hammerhead shape, but it didn’t raise its crest for us. Raul told Teri that he’d only seen a raised crest once.

Thunder and Lightening Snake
Great Currasow

Up on the Escarpment we had marvelous views down onto the forest canopy 500 feet below. We watched White Hawks, Short-tailed Hawks and Bat Falcons. We enjoyed spectacular views of a single Swallow-tailed Kite soaring in the area, first above us and then below. It was really magnificent looking. While we were there a small group from Program for Belize got out with radio tracking equipment to get a fix on the Harpy Eagles that had been released in the area. A reintroduction program has placed five of the birds back into Belize. They located at least one bird, but said that it was 6 kilometers away.

On our return trip we stopped at the creek crossing near Sylvester Village where we’d seen the Bare-throated Tiger-Herons previously. Along the creek we found Violaceous Trogan, Black-throated Green Warbler and Blue-black Grosbeak. Teri spotted a perched Red-tailed Hawk in a tree near the airport.

After lunch we decided to walk down to a small pool along Chan Chich Creek on the Sac Be Trail. We were told that it was a good spot for birds in the afternoon, as they were attracted to the water. We saw Spot-breasted Wren and both male and female Dot-winged Antwren. We sat for a couple of hours, and throughout that time we had astonishing looks at Purple-crowned Fairy hummingbirds bathing in the pools. They would hover a few inches over the water and then splash violently into the pool, completely submerging themselves. They would do this five or ten times in a row before perching on a branch to preen. They were gorgeous. We also had visits from Stripe-throated Hermits bathing in a similar way. A White-necked Jacobin came in a couple of times as if to bathe, but never actually did so.
Purple-crowned Fairy
Very short video of a Purple-crowned Fairy bathing

Birds visited throughout the afternoon, including dozens of Wood Thrush, Gray Catbird, and Northern Waterthrush. A parade of warblers came through including Hooded, Black-and-White, Magnolia, Chestnut-sided, Blue-winged, Kentucky, and American Redstart. Several Sulphur-rumped Flycatchers and Swainson’s Thrush visited, as well as a single Black-cowled Oriole. Late in the afternoon Teri spotted an all black cat coming down out of a tree projecting diagonally over the creek. I caught all but the head as it disappeared into the vegetation along the bank. We hoped that it would reappear at the waters edge to get a drink, but we didn’t see it again. We decided that it was a Jaguarundi.

We left the pool and came out at the bridge. Raul pointed out the King Vultures circling overhead. We watched a perfect male Blue Bunting working in the grass with a group of Indigo Buntings. Gilberto pointed out a nearby tree where he assured us Cinnamon Becard and Yellow-throated Euphonias would come in to roost. Sure enough they were in the tree by 5:30, very well camouflaged in the leaves. We walked back up to the lodge at dusk, listening to the Great Tinamou calling all around us. The Howler Monkeys were really making a fuss around the cabanas in the evening, continuing into the night. We decided that monkeys keeping us up at night weren’t necessarily a bad thing!
White-necked Jacobin
Collard Aracari


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