Saturday, January 12, 2013

Birding Tikal National Monument, Guatemala

Eric writes:  After spending a couple of days in Belize, we headed into Guatemala to bird at Tikal National Park.  According to many birders visiting this area, this ruins is the highlight of their trip.  For us, the birding and the overall experience was a let down after visiting Caracol in Belize.  Tikal is a tourist hotspot and the people running the park try to take advantage of it as much as possible.  That being said, if you like staying at nice hotels within a few minutes walk of Mayan ruins, this is your kind of place.  
A foggy start to the morning at Tikal.
After arriving in the afternoon and setting up camp, we headed into the park.  As with most places, the afternoon was slow but we did enjoy watching Ocellated Turkeys and Coatis (a raccoon like mammal).  We ran into a few different flocks of birds that provided a decent amount of species but the definite avian highlight were our first Collared Aracaris.  

Ocellated Turkey-these birds are hard to see in most
places but at Tikal they have become tame

That night we decided to go look for owls.  We walked down the old airstrip road and played for a couple species of owls but we had no luck.  When we were walking back towards the restaurant/campground area a Mottled Owl came flying straight towards us, curved up, and landed in a tree right next to us.  It had probably gotten disoriented by the headlights we were using to see where we were walking.  

Our foggy morning at Tikal-much more fun to visit in the morning when
there aren't loads of people walking around.

The next morning we only had a couple of hours to be in the park because of some issues we had while buying our passes for the park.  We tried to talk to a couple people to see if we could stay in longer with the passes we had but none of us spoke Spanish well enough to get our point totally across.  So, instead we walked over to the old airstrip and birded the rest of the morning. We had some highlights throughout the morning but for the most part the birding was slow.  Around noon we decided to get a head start on what would be a long day/night of travel back through Belize, into Mexico, and eventually to another Mayan ruins, Calakmul.
Roadside Hawk-very tame and very common throughout much of the area

A Spider Monkey-I had never seen monkeys before this trip, needless to
say, they were one of the biggest highlights of the trip!
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