Tyler writes: I spent February 15-22, 2015 birding the country of Belize. My family had traveled there for a mission trip, and we spent the last three days birding the southern part of the country. During the mission trip, we found several great birds in the villages and around our hotel. Highlights included: four species of orioles - Baltimore, Orchard, Yellow-Tailed, and Altamira - frequenting the flowering trees, Magnificent Frigatebirds coming in to hunt in the evenings, and at night, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls and Lesser Nighthawks that would call until about 11:00pm.
On our first day of real birding, we took a river tour to the Mayan ruins of Lamanai. We started out birding by boat down the New River and would stop along the way to look for water birds that may be lurking in the mangroves. Our guides, Robert Crawford and Collin, knew the birds of the area and just where to find them. We came across a Bare-throated Tiger-Heron on its nest, a large colony of Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, and a Lesser Nighthawk sleeping on a limb at eye level. By far the most amazing bird on the river tour was the Jabiru on its nest. Although this bird was observed way off in the distance, when a bird is around 4.5-5 feet tall, it still stands out, especially on its colossal nest. Upon reaching the ruins, we immediately found two species of trogons, Gartered and Slaty-tailed. As we proceeded into the forest, we came across 7 Howler Monkeys, both adults and babies. We ended the day with a grand total of 65 species in 7 hours of birding.
Early the next day, we met Robert Crawford outside of Bird's Eye View Lodge at Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. This is by far my favorite birding hotspot I have ever been to in my life and coming back to it for a second time was an awesome experience.. We went on a slow-paced boat tour through the lagoon with only a few target species in mind. My knowledge of Central American birds had greatly increased when Rob led us on a tour through Costa Rica last summer. The things I had learned on that trip proved to be extremely useful at Crooked Tree because I was able to contribute to the group since I could now identify many more of the birds based on shape, call, behavior, and location. Right away, we came across my number one goal bird for the trip! I was blown away to see just how incredible the colors of an adult Black-collared Hawk were.
We reached the southern portion of the country that evening with plans of getting up early to head into the mountains in search of one of Belize’s rarest birds, the Orange-breasted Falcon. In the morning, we were greeted by a group of four Collared Aracari on the balcony by the breakfast area. Other birds that morning included Blue-grey and Yellow-winged Tanagers, Rufous-tailed and White-bellied Hummingbirds, Grey-headed Kite, and Brown-hooded Parrots.
That night we celebrated with dinner at DuPlooy’s Jungle Lodge where we also saw Mottled Owl, Fer-de-Lance, and Kinkajou. It turned out to be a great day and was a great conclusion to a great trip! For more pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tyficker/