Thursday, January 29, 2009

Birding Belize, part I

Having solidly hit the mid-winter blahs I've decided to take up a tried-and-true trick of bloggers everywhere and go with the trip-report-from-a-long-time-ago.

Ginger and I decided to go to Belize in early April of 2005, figuring if we were going to take a trip to the tropics in the near future, we'd best do it without small children (or a pregnancy). I used the Moon guide, a general Belize guidebook and bird trip reports off the internet.  A compass was quite helpful because what roads there are aren't signed all that well.

For a first neo-tropics (or trip away from the U.S./Canada) this was a way to ease into it; English is the major language and the American dollar is accepted at a 2:1 ratio to the Belizean dollar (pay for something in U.S. dollars and you'd get the same amount back in Belize dollars).

We landed in Belize City, on the coast, in the late afternoon and drove inland to Belmopan.  As we drove out of the airport a bat falcon ripped by and I nearly got us rear-ended in the first 5 minutes but just stopping and not pulling over.

The lowlands still held some flooding (this was towards the end of the dry season) and we stopped at some of the puddles.

A jabiru stork flew over the road, a massive bird:

Snail kites batted about the marshlands.  Blue-winged teal skittered out of their way.  This is a first year bird:

We circled one back for one puddle when a yellow spot caught my eye.  Sure enough it was the frontal shield of a jacana.

Darkness was falling as we started reaching the lowland thickets and early jungle.  We saw a couple of roadside hawks, a small buteo that seemed very much in the broad-winged class:
After driving past a lot of rudely constructed plywood-type houses (often complete with some very scrawny cattle in the front yards, but the blue glow of televisions from inside) along the 2 lane "highway," we arrived in Belmopan, a small, but more modern town.  We stayed the night at the Bullfrog Inn, a western-style motel that had a swarm of minute ants on one corner of the coverlet (we chucked that into the corner).

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