Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
|Date: February 22-28, 2017
Report by: Joe Giunta
Our group consisted of Joe, Edith, Jeff, Bobby, Colleen, Isabel, Nicki, Chee, Laura, Bebe, Nancy and Debbie. We visited two different habitats, the lowlands, staying at Bird’s Eye View Lodge in Crooked Tree, and the highlands, staying at Crystal Paradise Lodge. It was the third time that Happy Warblers LLC had sponsored a trip to Belize. We had two vans and two guides, Eric and Everald. They were with us at all times. It was a highly successful trip with 214 species seen by most members of our group.
Chee has made for us a pictorial history of our trip and it can be found at:
Jeff has also shared his photos with us and can be found at:
Feb. 22: Our United flight out of LaGuardia left on time and after transferring planes in Houston our Belize flight took off and also arrived right on time. Our guides Eric and Everald met us at the airport and we started birding immediately. The first bird seen was a Yellow-throated Warbler. During our trip we would see many North American warblers, 18 species in all. In a way they made us feel right at home and also told us that in not too long a time they would be with us again in Central Park.
Next came the tropical birds led by the beautiful Vermillion Flycatcher quickly followed by the Tropical Kingbird, Great Kiskadee, Social Flycatcher and a nicely spotted Yellow-headed Vulture. We traveled for about an hour heading towards our first venue, the Bird’s Eye View Lodge in Crooked Tree. Dinner was waiting for us and then we went out birding. Best bird of the night were three very cooperative Pauraques. We traveled some roads looking for owls and other nightjars but they were no shows.
Feb. 23: Breakfast was at 6am and we were in the vans and ready for our day of birding at 6:30am. This would be the usual routine for our entire trip. Today we birded the grounds of Crookled Tree, lunched and then walked into a pine savannah. Birds seen on the grounds included all the usual egrets and herons, namely: Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Little Blue Heron, Cattle Egret and Green Heron. Highlight was a very well spotted Pinnated Bittern, a lifer for almost everyone. We also had many views of Limpkins.
Orioles were well represented with good looks at: Baltimore, Orchard, Black-cowled, and Hooded. Another well seen and beautiful bird was the Yucatan Jay. We encountered a flock of about 15 of them on the trail. A somewhat elusive bird but seen by about half of us was the Black Catbird. A lifer for everyone except Eric our guide. Lunch and dinner were both at the lodge. After dinner we would do the “list” as that was part of our routine. Conditions for sleeping were excellent with a nice cooling breeze coming off of the lagoon.
Feb. 24: We were up a little bit earlier as today we would have a three hour boat ride on the lagoon. For most of us the boat ride was the highlight of the entire trip. We had coffee and fruit first, then the boat ride, then a late breakfast. Water conditions were excellent. We saw four kingfisher species, namely: Belted, Green, Ringed and Pygmy. We saw egrets and herons including fantastic looks at three Jabirus. People who wanted to see Wood Storks stopped looking at the storks to concentrate on the Jabirus. For some the Jabirus were the best birds of the trip. Mixed in with the herons and egrets were sandpipers and ducks. We recorded a Muscovy Duck, but not the best view. We also concentrated on two hawks. We had excellent looks at the Black-collared Hawk and equally good looks at a Snail Kite, eating a snail. A few Black-necked Stilts and Roseate Spoonbills also made for nice viewing. The water level was somewhat lower than last year and made for a great concentration of birds, so much so that one did not know where to look first. After the boat ride and our brunch we headed towards our next lodge, the Crystal Paradise.
On the way we stopped at the Belize Zoo. The rule was if the bird is in a cage we can’t count it but if it was flying around the grounds it was OK for our list. In the cages were Harpy Eagle, Spectacled Owl and King Vulture. A funny thing happened while we were looking at the caged King Vulture, a real King Vulture, in the wild, flew right over us. A “lifer” for almost everyone. We left the zoo and headed towards our next lodge and dinner. It was a great day of birding.
Feb. 25: We were at our new lodge, the Crystal Paradise. Today we headed towards the Mountain Pine Ridge area. This venue was a different type of habitat and we saw different types of birds. After breakfast we were in our vans and heading out. We made two stops along the way looking for special birds. We were after the Blue Bunting in a spot where we had seen it in the past. This year we had no luck. We made another roadside stop in favorable habitat but we had to settle for Indigo Bunting. We also added good views of Yellow-faced Grassquit, Blue-black Grassquit and White-collared Seedeaters. Now for the Pine Ridge where we hoped to find a real rarity, the Orange-breasted Falcon. As soon as we got to the spot where it had been seen recently we got the bird. It was a very nice find and took a lot of pressure off of Eric, our guide. He wanted to get us all the special birds of Belize and this one was at the top of the list. Other birds seen at this spot were: Gray Hawk (3), Roadside Hawk, Osprey, Plumbeous Kite, Swallow-tailed Kite, Short-tailed Hawk, and King Vultures (3).
We made tacos for lunch while looking at the 1000-foot waterfalls. It is indeed a very beautiful place. On the way back to the lodge we located, in a secret spot, a Stygian Owl. A “lifer” for everyone except Eric. The Mountain Pine Ridge was not very birdy but the birds we saw were very special.
Feb. 26: Another day and another venue. Today we birded El Pilar, a Mayan ruin close to the Guatemalan border. There were many temples at this location but few if any have been excavated. The birds here were different from other locations we had visited. The highlights were: White Hawk, Blue-crowned Motmot (now called Lesson’s), White-whiskered Puffbird, Chestnut-colored Woodpecker and Golden-crowned Warbler.
We returned a bit early, took a break and then did some birding on the grounds of the lodge. We saw a good number of N.A. warblers including: Worm-eating, Hooded and Northern Waterthrush. We also had good looks at a Pale-billed Woodpecker. Dinner was at the lodge and we prepared for our last full day of birding.
Feb. 27: The Blue Hole National Park was our destination for the day. The park has two parts, one that leads to Herman’s Cave and the other which has the actual “Blue Hole.” On our first part we walked towards Herman’s Cave. Along the way a beautiful Blue-black Grosbeak was seen very nicely as well as heard nicely as it sang for our group. At the cave itself we spooked an owl, probably a Spectacled Owl but no one got a real good look. We drove about a half mile to the “Blue Hole” part of the park. We saw many N.A. warblers including: Chestnut-sided, Kentucky and Hooded. Probably one of the most common birds seen on our trip was the White-eyed Vireo which was present here and many other places we visited.
Lunch was in a restaurant in the capital of Belize, Belmopan. We headed back to our lodge, look a break and then headed out again for some birding on the grounds. We had excellent looks at male and female Black-headed Trogons. Dinner and the list followed and we prepared for our trip back.
Feb. 28: Before breakfast we did some birding on the grounds picking up the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl. We had about 200 species in the “bucket” as they say but we wanted a few more to break last year’s record of 204. We had breakfast and then headed towards Belize City and the airport. We were very lucky and picked up a number of birds right at the shoreline in Belize City. The birds included: Brown Pelican, Magnificent Frigatebird, Laughing Gull, Black Skimmer and Royal Tern among others. It was an excellent trip, we made new friends, we saw great birds and our return flight was right on time.
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture
Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift
American Pygmy Kingfisher
Great Crested Flycatcher
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Black-throated Green Warbler
Species seen - 214