Sunday, February 22, 2009

Belize part 7 - Las Milpas

The evening of day 4 saw us arrive at Las Milpas, a conservation district directly abutting the (large) territory of Chan Chich lodge. Chan Chich was in the neighborhood of $400 a night so my hope was that this would be similar birds at a MUCH more reasonable price.

Here's Ginger on the porch of our hut (again, errrrr cabana). I watched short-tailed hawks and king vultures fly over from the hammocks.

Monctezuma oropendolos displayed from a tree at the entrance drive where they were nesting colonially in massive pendulous nests. Vaguely related to orioles they were the size of small crows and as they made their display lunge (grainy video below) they would give a call which I could only describe as being intermediate between a house finch's song and a turkey gobble (my camera wasn't advanced enough to record sounds).

A rufous-tailed hummingbird, the most common hummingbird we found in Belize, came in to a feeder that I hung from the porch of the cabana (I think that feeder has about 10 species on its "lifelist" between trips to S Texas, Arizona, and Belize. Unfortunately I've lost the list). This bird must be fairly closely related to the buff-bellied hummingbirds that a person can see in south Texas.
I walked along the road in nice evening light and watched this white-lored parrot eat a peapod looking tree seed of some sort. The parrots in Belize overall were very skittish, and typically would remain once seen only if fairly well -screened by branches. I don't know if this is true everywhere or not.

A white-collared manakin appeared, a very striking bird boldly patterned in blocks of gleaming yellow, white and glossy black as did a few more barred antshrikes. A roadside hawk perched up nicely as well:

We took an night ride on the back of a haybale filled pick-up truck hoping to spotlight an owl, potoo, or even a jaguar, but had to be satisfied with a glimpse of what Ramon, our guide, described as a gibnot, a mammal I'd never heard of. After some discussion we determined that "gibnot" was the regional name of a largish long-legged rodent that I knew as a paca. Apparently in Belize the creature is a delicacy and was actually served to Queen Elizabeth many moons ago on an official state visit. The royal party was unaware that they were being served a rodent until after the meal; thereafter the animal was also nick-named the Royal Rat in Belize.

Ask not what the gibnot can give to you, ask what you can give to the gibnot.

Anyway, that night we got back to the hut and found 2 nearly hand-sized scorpions on the inner wall of the bathroom. It was a restless night. Believe when I tell you that no clothes, shoes, or anything else was left outside the suitcase. And of course this was the one place I had us slotted in for 2 nights. Ah well.

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