Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
|Date: February 6-12, 2018
Report by: Joe Giunta
A photo album from Ardith can be found at: http://www.ardithbondi.com/page135.html
Our group consisted of Joe, Charlie, Peggy, Kate, Mary Jane, Gillian, Marion, Ron, Ed, Susan. Ardith, Alice, Geri and John. 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, near St. Ignacio in the Cayo District. It was the fourth time that Happy Warblers LLC had sponsored a trip to Belize. This year we had one 22 passenger van with Eric Tut as our guide. He was with us at all times. The one large van made it very comfortable for everyone to move around in the van and made it for a more social group. It was a highly successful trip with 204 species seen by most members of our group.
Feb. 6: Our American Airlines flight out of JFK airport left on time at 7:45am and after transferring planes in Miami our Belize flight took off and also arrived right on time. Our guide Eric met us at the airport and we started birding immediately. The first bird seen was a Vermillion Flycatcher. It was a “lifer” for most people and no matter what birds you see in the world the Vermillion Flycatcher will always be regarded as just spectacular. Two other flycatchers, Scissor-tailed and Fork-tailed, were both present on the fence at the airport and put on a nice show. During our trip we would see 17 flycatcher species in all.
Another nicely spotted bird was the Yellow-headed Vulture. We traveled for a short distance and stopped at a shrimp farm. Here we saw some shorebird species as well as some terns. The highlight for the group was the ten Black-necked Stilts that we saw. Egret and herons were also seen in good numbers. After about an hour we headed towards our first lodge, the Bird’s Eye View Lodge in Crooked Tree. Dinner was waiting for us and then we went out for nighttime birding. Best birds of the night were three very cooperative Pauraques. We also saw a Boat-billed Heron. It used to be called a Boat-billed night-heron because it is most active at night.
Feb. 7: Coffee and some fruit were available at 5:30 and by 6am we were ready to do some birding on the grounds. This would be the usual routine for our entire trip as birding in the early morning is usually best. Today we birded the grounds of Crookled Tree, lunched and then drove and 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 the great view of the Striped Cuckoo. 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 over 25 of them on the trail. 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.
Also excellent was that we had no rain to speak of during the entire seven days. For two weeks before our arrival they had rain almost every day. We did feel the effects of the rain as we could not go to El Pilar or 1000 foot falls as the roads were under water. Being resourceful we found other venues to bird.
Feb. 8: We were up a little bit earlier as today we had a three hour boat ride on the lagoon. Everybody loves boat rides and for some it was the highlight of the entire trip. We had coffee and fruit first, then the boat ride, then a late breakfast, really a brunch. Water conditions were high and there was no shorebird flats as we had in prior years. We did see many hawk species on the ride. We saw: Osprey, Great Black Hawk, Aplomado Falcon, Black-collared Hawk, Snail Kite and Gray Hawk. Ringed and Belted Kingfishers also made for nice viewing. 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. Outside of the cages were many warbler species. We saw: Hooded, Grace’s, Black-and-white, Redstart and Yellow-throated. Also outside of the cages was a Lineated Woodpecker. We had excellent looks. We left the zoo and headed towards our next lodge and dinner. It was a great day of birding.
Feb. 9: We were at our new lodge, the Crystal Paradise. Feeders were set up as we had breakfast and the Lesson’s Motmot and Brown Jays put on a nice show. Today was supposed to be El Pilar but because of the flooded road we when to Spanish Lookout and Aguacate Lagoon. The birding was very good. At Spanish Lookout we saw many, many Meadowlarks. Other birds in the area that we saw were: Crested Caracara, Laughing Falcon and American Kestrel. We had lunch in town and then an ice cream desert at Western Dairy. We went to Aguacate Lagoon and saw some nice birds of the broad leaf forest. They included: White-whiskered Puffbird, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Olivaceous and Ivory Billed Woodcreepers to name a few.
Feb. 10: Another day and another venue. Today we birded Mountain Pine Ridge. On our way to this location we first stopped at a roadside location that was known to be good for finches and seed eaters. Here we had good looks at the beautiful Blue Bunting, one of the highlights of the entire trip. Other small birds were also present. We saw: Blue-black Grassquit, Yellow-faced Grassquit, White-collared Seedeater, Indigo Bunting and Thick-billed Seed Finch. In the Pine Forest we drove to an area that had an excellent elevation for seeing flyover raptors. We saw: White Hawk, Swallow-tailed Kite and best of all two King Vultures. 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, Summer Tanager and Wood Thrush. We also heard a very vocal White-eyed Vireo. Dinner was at the lodge and we prepared for our last full day of birding.
Feb. 11: 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 we saw a Barred Antshrike, female. We also recorded Dusty Antbird, not the best view, and Dot-winged Antwren. We drove about a half mile to the “Blue Hole” part of the park. It is a cool place for an afternoon swim. It was formed by water running through a limestone cave producing a powder blue swimming hole. Here half of our group took a swim in the Blue Hole. After swimming, drying off and having lunch we did some birding. We saw: Green and Red-legged Honeycreepers, Tennessee Warbler (our only one), Rose-throated Becard and the interesting Plain Xenops.
Feb. 12: Before breakfast we did some birding on the grounds of the lodge picking up the Red-capped Manakin, Masked Tityra, Yellow-throated Euphonia and Black-headed Trogon. 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, Sandwich Tern and Royal Tern among others. A small pond had a number of shorebirds. We saw: Lesser-yellowlegs, Long and Short billed Dotwitchers and a Willet. 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
Western Long-tailed Hermit
Pale-billed Woodpecker (heard only)
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Black-throated Green Warbler
Species seen - 204