Brooklyn Bird Club
Long Pond Greenbelt
|Date: February 13-19, 2020
Report by: Joe Giunta
Our group consisted of Joe, Jan, Dorothy, Joyce, Nancy, Gillian, Joyce, Arnold, Terry, Niki, Stephen and Linda. 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 sixth time that Happy Warblers LLC had sponsored a trip to Belize. Eric Tut from the famous Tut family of Belizean birders was our guide. He was with us at all times. It was a highly successful trip with 220 species seen or in a few cases heard by most members of our group.
Feb. 13: Our American Airlines flight out of JFK airport left on time at 8am 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. Some of the great birds seen at the airport fence were: Vermillion Flycatcher and Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.
We traveled for a short distance and stopped at a shrimp farm. Here we saw some shorebird species, egrets and herons. The highlight for the group was the Black-necked Stilts that we saw. Egrets and herons were also seen in good numbers. It was fun looking through the shorebirds and picking out Least and Western Sandpipers as well as seeing some Spotted Sandpipers. After about an hour we headed to 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 five very cooperative Pauraques and the sounds of many Limpkins calling. The Pauraques like to rest on the ground right under the street light and pick off moths. When the birds are put in the flashlight their eyes look all red.
Feb. 14: Coffee and some fruit were available at 5:30 and by 6am we were ready to do some birding on the grounds of Crooked Tree. We saw many egrets and herons including the Bare-throated Tiger-Heron. Special birds of the area included Yucatan Woodpecker and Yucatan Flycatcher. We saw both of them. A harder bird to see was the Yucatan Jay. It is big and noisy yet somewhat elusive. It took some time but we finally found a flock of them. Adults and young have different bill colors and we saw both. In an area known as the Pine Reserve we saw very nicely the Rufous-browed Peppershrike. It is very attractive and very noisy. For North American warblers that overwinter in Belize we saw: Northern Parula, Black-throated Green, Yellow-throated, Grace's, American Redstart and Northern Waterthrush. Baltimore Oriole and Orchard Oriole were fairly common. We had breakfast, lunch and dinner all at the Lodge and it was all buffet style.
Feb. 15: 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 good. We saw four kingfisher species. They were: Ringed, Belted, Green and Amazon. Special for me were the larger waders. We saw both Jabiru and many Wood Storks. We did see many hawk species on the ride. We saw: Osprey, Great Black Hawk, Black-collared Hawk, Snail Kite and Gray Hawk. 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: Magnolia, Yellow-rumped, Black-and-white, Ovenbird and Hooded. Also outside of the cages was a Rose-breasted grosbeak. We had excellent looks. We left the zoo and headed towards our next lodge and dinner. On the way we made another stop, this time at Monkey Bay. It's just a road but it goes into some great habitat. We saw: Red-legged Honeycreeper and Black-headed Trogon. Overhead flew two swift species. They were Vaux's and Lesser Swallow-tailed. We finally arrived at Crystal Paradise, had dinner, went over the bird checkoff list and prepared for our next day.
Feb. 16: 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 as they came to the feeders. Another day and another venue. Today we birded Mountain Pine Ridge. On our way to this location we first stopped on at a roadside spot known for finches and seedeaters. Many small birds were present in good numbers. We saw: Blue-black Grassquit, White-collared Seedeater (now called Morelet's Seedeater), Blue Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting. A surprise was a male Painted Bunting, first time ever for me in Belize. In the Pine Forest we drove to an area that had an excellent elevation for seeing flyover raptors. We saw: White Hawk, King Vulture, Ornate Hawk-Eagle (distant) and Orange-breasted Falcon (distant). For Belize resident warblers we saw a very nice Rufous-capped Warbler. Before returning to the lodge Eric took us to a special spot where he had a Stygian Owl in the past. We dipped on the owl this year. Dinner was at the lodge and we prepared for our next full day of birding.
Feb. 17: 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: Barred Antshrike, Dot-winged Antwren, Dusky Antbird (poorly seen) and high on everyone's list a Blue Bunting (male)
At the actual "Blue Hole" some of us decided to take a dip in the unusual colored pond. For some people swimming in the Blue Hole is part of their life bucket list. They have changing rooms and bathrooms set up to make the experience more comfortable. We also did some birding in the area seeing: Rufous-tailed Jacamar and Yellow-backed Oriole. Lots of North American warblers were present. We saw: Tennessee, Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Green, Black-and-white, Kentucky and Golden-winged. We had lunch at the Blue Hole and headed back to the lodge. Back at the lodge and after a short break and before dinner we did some birding on the grounds. We added common birds like Gray Catbird, Clay-colored Thrush and Wood Thrush. Just before dinner we heard and then saw a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl. Not one but two of them.
Feb. 18: It was our last full day of birding and we explored an entirely new area in Belize. We birded Chanchich, its lodge, its trails and the road into the 400,000 area reserve. Yes, that is correct 400,000 acres. We started early and before reaching the Chanchich lodge we birded the road into the preserve. For me it felt like we were in a prehistoric landscape. There were no buildings, no people, no noise just a dirt road going into the jungle. Many large flocks of parrots flew overhead. The flocks were: Brown-hooded Parrots, Olive-throated Parakeets, White-crowned Parrots, Red-lored Parrots and Mealy Parrots. Some perched close by for excellent looks. I would estimate over 1000 parrots in all. I was amazed by the whole thing, something I will remember forever.
We had breakfast at the lodge. Many hummingbirds entertained us as they had many feeders established. We saw: White-necked Jacobin, Purple-crowned Fairy and Long-billed Hermit. After breakfast we walked some trails. We saw one of my favorite birds, the Slaty-tailed Trogon. Other very showy birds seen were the Rufous-tailed Jacamar and the Keel-billed Toucan. A very large woodpecker, the Pale-billed Woodpecker, was nicely seen. Another spectacular bird seen by all was the male Red-capped Manakin. North American warblers overwintering in Chanchich were: Magnolia, Chestnut-sided, Redstart, Black-and-white, Hooded and Northern Waterthrush. All seen well by our group. One of the rarest birds in Central American was the Ocellated Turkey. But in Chanchich they were as they say "all over the place". After lunch at the lodge we finally left this beautiful paradise and headed back.
Once outside the preserve we made a stop at some manmade rice ponds. There were a good number of birds present. We saw almost all of the common egrets and herons. Our list included: Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Tricolored Heron and Green Heron. Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks and Blue-winged Teal were also present. Also seen were Spotted Sandpiper and Killdeer. At a good distance, was a small flock of Tri-colored Munias. They are a nonnative bird that is spreading in Central America. We finally got back to our lodge, Crystal Paradise, had dinner and did our bird list. It was a great day.
Feb. 19: Before breakfast we did some birding from the deck and had great looks at Lesson's Motmot and other birds that came to the feeders. 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 and Magnificent Frigatebird. It was an excellent trip, we made new friends, we saw great birds and our return flight was pretty much on time.
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture
Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift
Long Billed Hermit
American Pygmy Kingfisher
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Black-throated Green Warbler
Species seen - 220