Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
|Date: January 28 - February 3, 2015
Report by: Joe Giunta
Our group consisted of Joe, Gerry, Eleanor, Sandy, Susan, Mary, Al, Irene, Elyse, Sharon, Jan and Carol. We would visit the lowlands of Belize staying at the Bird’s Eye View Lodge in Crooked Tree and the highlands staying at Crystal Paradise Lodge. It was also the first time that Happy Warblers LLC had sponsored a trip to Belize. The trip was highly successful with a total of 185 species of birds being seen by most members of the group.
A photo history, provided by Gerry, can be found at:
And a bird photo album, also provided by Gerry, can be found at:
Jan. 28: Our United/Continental Airways flight, out of LaGuardia, took off at 9:30am. We transferred at Houston to our Belize flight which arrived in Belize City at 2:30pm, a half hour ahead of schedule. We were greeted at the airport by our guide, Erik Hut. Eric would stay with us for the next 7 days. The birding started immediately. Before we left the grounds of the airport we saw great birds like: Vermilion Flycatcher, Eastern Meadowlark, Groove-billed Ani, Fork-tailed Flycatcher and White-collared Seedeater. The drive to Crooked Tree Lodge was about 2 hours, slowed down by stopping and picking up more birds. We saw: Limpkin, Purple Gallinule and Roadside Hawk. Our lodge was right on the lagoon of Crooked Tree. Once at the lodge we took a short break and then to dinner. After dinner we walked along the road having fantastic views of 5 Pauraques.
Jan. 29: Our routine for the entire rest of the trip was breakfast at 6am and then out birding at 6:30am. The Crooked Tree Lagoon was beautiful as we saw the sun come up over the water and change the darkness into light. During our entire trip we only had a 2-hour rain shower which occurred during the night. The rest of the days were dry and sun-filled. Our first day of birding was around the Lodge itself. We would see: Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, Gray-necked Wood-Rail, Northern Jacana and Squirrel Cuckoo. Some members (5) of our group opted out of a full day of birding and instead went snorkeling in Caye Caulker, the rest of us birded the entire day.
A highlight of the day was the fly-in of a beautiful Jabiru. It circled our group and we all had excellent views. A small pond near the lodge was filled with egrets and herons. For big colorful birds we saw: Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Green Heron, White Ibis, and Cattle Egret. The Cattle Egrets just littered the fields and the roads.
We saw many North American migrants which winter in Belize. We saw: Yellow-breasted Chat, Magnolia, Yellow-throated, Yellow, and Black-and-white Warblers. Orioles were well represented: we saw Baltimore, Orchard, Black-cowled, and Hooded. In the afternoon we took a short ride to a Pine Tree area were we saw Yucatan Jay and many Brown Jays. An excellent, excellent day with 84 species recorded. Wow!
Jan. 30: We started the day early as usual. We had a boat ride on the Crooked Tree Lagoon. We also picked up a second guide, Andy. Now our group was at full strength, 12 birders, two vans and two guides. The boat ride would last three hours and concentrate on birds just seen at the water’s edge. We saw: Belted Kingfisher, Ringed Kingfisher, Green Kingfisher, White-necked Puffbird and all the herons and egrets. Special sightings were made of a few Snail Kites and one Black-collared Hawk.
Our group left Bird’s Eye View Lodge and started the three-hour ride to Crystal Paradise Lodge. We did birding along the way stopping especially for a scoped view of another Jabiru. Another stop was made for a perched Aplomado Falcon and a perched Laughing Falcon. Before getting to our next lodge we stopped at the Belize Zoo. Here we saw, in cages, Harpy Eagle, Ocelot and Jaguar. Too bad we could not count them on our trip. On the grounds near the zoo we did see and were able to count a Ferruginous Pygmy-owl.
Jan. 31: Breakfast at 6 and ready to bird at 6:30. Today we traveled to Mountain Pine Ridge and Hidden Valley Falls. Not far away but with birding along the way it took some time to get there. Only about one mile outside the lodge we stopped along the roadside seeing some great birds. Our group recorded: Blue Bunting, Masked Tityra, Blue-black Grassquit and Red-legged Honeycreeper. We continued until we arrived at Hidden Valley Falls. Another venue and different birds. Here we saw, in the distance, three King Vultures, a key bird of the trip. Then came probably the rarest bird of the trip, Orange-breasted Falcon. We had great views. I saw four of them, two were mating! Our group had lunch at the top of the hill right next to the 1000-foot falls. More birds seen were: White Hawk, Great Black Hawk and Scaled Pigeon.
Before getting back to the lodge we stopped at a Butterfly Farm where we took a tour and explored their grounds. We found out about the life cycle of a butterfly and what the farm was doing in both research and preservation. On the grounds we recorded 8 species of hummingbirds including the very beautiful Violet Sabrewing. Dinner was at the lodge followed by the usual review of the birds.
Feb. 1: Today we visited and birded the grounds of El Pilar, a Maya site and flora/fauna reserve. Another venue and different birds. We saw: Chestnut-colored Woodpecker, Ruddy, Olivaceous, and Ivory-billed Woodcreepers. We also recorded some very nice flycatchers like Rose-throated Becard, Sepia-capped Flycatcher, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher and Eye-ringed Flatbill. Only about 5% of the site has been excavated but Eric told us what the different parts of the site were used for by the Maya. We stopped for a watermelon break while chasing a Rufous-tailed Jacamar. We ate the watermelon and saw the Jacamar. We had lunch at a restaurant in the town of San Ignacio and then returned to the lodge for a break and then some birding on the grounds of the lodge. We were searching for a Potoo and an Owl, both of which we missed.
Feb. 2: This was our last full day of birding and we were going to the Blue Hole National Park. It was very interesting to see the water flow through some limestone formations and come out to form a “blue hole.” Birding was also good on the trails of the park. We saw: Gray Hawk, Black-headed Trogon, Barred Antshrike and White-whiskered Puffbird. North American warblers were again well represented with Black-throated Green, Chestnut-sided and American Redstart being added to our list. We also had very good looks at a male Red-capped Manakin as well as a White-collared Manakin, two more great birds for our list. We had lunch outside of the lodge again and then headed back for a break and some late afternoon birding. Andy did the guiding of the group and we found on the grounds of the lodge: Summer Tanager and Blue-crowned Motmot.
Feb. 3: The weather was so nice in Belize that just the thought returning to New York, with its snow and ice, made us to want to stay longer. Well, there is always next year. At the feeders of the lodge a beautiful Collared Aracari came in joined by a Clay-colored Robin. Two nice birds that were saying goodbye to us. We boarded the vans and headed towards the airport, yet the birding was not finished. We drove through Belize City picking up a few more species. We had drive-by views of: Brown Pelican, Magnificent Frigatebird, Royal Tern and Laughing Gull. The last bird seen, I believe, was a beautiful male Vermilion Flycatcher. Our flight back to the U.S. was on time and we left with a great list and great memories of a fabulous trip.
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture
Western Long-tailed Hermit
Great Crested Flycatcher
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Black-throated Green Warbler
Species seen - 185