Monday, 8 September 2014

Ambergris Caye, Belize

After Black Rock Lodge we moved onto Ambergris Caye, an island off the eastern coast of Belize. W arrived via a short 20 minute flight in a small 14 seater plane, which provided stunning views of the aqua marine and turquoise seas and barrier reef, which incidentally is the 2nd biggest in the world.

Here there wasn't much birding to do, however, the snorkeling was amazing. We swam up close and personal with huge Spotted Eagle Rays, Sting Rays, Nurse Sharks, Green Turtles, Moray Eel and a Manatee. Add to that collection huge numbers and varieties of beautifully colourful fish, and all in all it really was a breathe taking experience.

I did see a few birds, mostly when I borrowed one of the hotel's bikes and headed away from town on the bumpy unmade roads.    

Great Tailed Grackle

Magnificent Frigatebird

Tropical Kingbird 

Hooded Oriole

Tri-coloured Heron

Wilson's Plover. There are a few more pictures below.   

Monday, 18 August 2014

More from Black Rock Lodge - Belize

A few more birds from Black Rock Lodge. Less birding was done on my own here, compared to Lamanai, as we enjoyed plenty of family time swimming and tubing in the river.

Yellow Winged Tanager (m)

Yellow Throated Euphonia (f)

Blue Gray Tanager 

Yellow Throated Euphonia (m)

Black Cheeked Woodpecker 

Red Legged Honeycreeper - poss my favorite bird of the trip - hence a few pics  

Rufous Tailed Hummingbird

Crap pic of a Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher 

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Black Rock Lodge, Belize - Days 1 and 2

We left Lamanai Outpost  Lodge the same way we arrived, via an exhilarating speedboat ride, lasting about an hour. We then had an hour's drive (bus minibus) to Belize International airport. Here we were met by a representative from Black Rock Lodge (Carlos), swapped vehicles and began the 2.5 hour transfer.

After a quick chat with Carlos, I soon found out that he was one of the lodge's bird guides! Result. I asked him to point out anything he spotted along the way and we chatted birds for the best part of the next 2.5 hours. On route I managed 5 new birds including Yucatan Jay, Fork Tailed Flycatcher (2), Gray Hawk, Bronzed Cowbird, Lesser Swallow Tailed Swift, Least Flycatcher and an impressive Jabiru Stork.                

Jabiru Stork


Gray Hawk 

Least Flycatcher

Black Rock lodge is a high quality rain forest location, with stunning views, great accommodation and good food. The mountain ridge opposite was excellent for raptors, and the gardens and surrounding forest great for a wide variety of birds.    

Banded Backed Wren - a less than impressive picture of an impressive bird - seen only a few times briefly

Green Backed Sparrow

 The view from our cabana  
 An early morning (6am) find. I was waiting in the early morning light for a guide to take me out birding for a couple of hours, when this large raptor unexpectedly drifted over. I grabbed my camera, and rattled off a few shots, but all I could get was a silhouette.  There was some debate among the guides, but eventually they settled on Ornate Hawk-Eagle.    

After  a successful morning walk (bird list post to follow)all four of us, with guide our guide, climbed the mountain opposite the lodge. In humid conditions, it was shard work, but enjoyable seeing quite a few birds, including this Tody Motmot, that we initially only heard, then our guide expertly called back which brought it closer and closer, until there it was sat 40 feet in front of us. A good bird we were advised, not often seen.    

 Tody Motmot

 A big fat hairy turantula
 There at last - a well deserved rest at the top

 Sophie and Jamie - enjoying the view

 White Hawk - one of a pair seen from the summit

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Lamanai Mayan ruins

During our time at Lamanai, we visited the Mayan ruins/temples and museum (an included activity). After a short boat journey we trekked through the rain forest until we got a glimpse of the the first ruin. Our expert guides provided great detail of the Mayan civilisation and history of the site.

It was wet and the ruins were very steep

Very steep! 

That's us at the top - honest! 

Swimming with Green Turtles, Akumal, Mexico

What a fantastic experience it was, snorkeling up close and personal with beautiful Green Sea Turtles. The guided trip was booked with Tulum based eco-tour guide, the Agua Clara Project:, who I would recommend highly:,  

Yes, that's us with a beautiful Green Turtle    

Later on we stopped at a cenoté for some fresh water swimming which was also an excellent experience

Sophie and Jamie at the cenoté

Monday, 11 August 2014

Lamanai Lodge Belize, bird list

At least 116 species seen, and many more heard only, in less than 3 days, and remember this was not an out and out birding trip!
Bare Throated Tiger Heron      
Great Blue Heron                    
Black Crowned Night Heron    
Great Egret                              
Snowy Egret                            
Little Blue Heron                      
Green Heron                            
Boat-Billed Heron                    
White Ibis                                
Black Vulture                        
Turkey Vulture                        
Black Bellied Whistling Ducks
Muscovy Duck                      
Swallow Tailed Kite              
Snail Kite                              
Crane Hawk                        
Great Black Hawk                
Roadside Hawk                    
Short Tailed Hawk                
White Breasted Hawk          
Collared Forest Falcon          
Bat Falcon                            
Plain Chacalaca                    
Grey Necked Wood Rail      
Northern Jacana                    
Pale Vented Pigeon              
Common Ground Dove        
Plain Breasted Ground Dove
Ruddy Ground Dove            
White Tipped Dove              
Gray Fronted Dove              
Olive Throated Parakeet      
White Fronted Parrot            
Red Lored Parrot                
Squirrel Cuckoo                  
Grove Billed Ani                  
Northern Potoo                    
Common Parague                
Chimney Swift                      
Vaux's Swift                        
Long Tailed Hermit              
White Bellied Emerald          
Rufus Tailed Hummingbird    
Black Headed Trogon          
Slaty Tailed Trogon              
Ringed Kingfisher                
Green Kingfisher                  
American Pigmy Kingfisher  
Collared Aracari                  
Keel Billed Tucan                
Yucatan Woodpecker        
Golden Fronted Woodpecker
Yelllow Bellied Sapsucker  
Pale Billed Woodpecker    
Lineated Woodpecker        
Olivaceous Woodcreeper  
Ivory Billed Woodcreeper  
Barred Antshrike                
Black Faced Antthrush      
Northern Beardless Tyrannulet
Yellow Belled Elanea          
Yellow Olive Flycatcher      
Vermillion Flycatcher          
Dusky Capped Flycatcher  
Brown Crested Flycatcher
Great Kiskadee                
Boat Billed Flycatcher      
Social Flycatcher                
Sulphur Bellied Flycatcher  
Tropical Kingbird              
Couch's Kingbird              
Rose Throated Bicard        
Masked Tityra                  
Red Capped Manakin        
Yellow Green Vireo              
Lesser Greenlet                  
Brown Jay                        
Purple Martin                    
Gray Breasted Martin        
Mangrove Swallow            
Spot Breasted Wren          
White Bellied Wren          
White Breasted Wood Wren
Blue Gray Gnatcatcher      
Black Catbird                    
Tropical Mockingbird        
Prothonotary Warbler        
Gray Crowned Yellowthroat
Blue Gray Tanager            
Yellow Winged Tanager    
Yellow Throated Euphonia
Blue black Grassquit          
White Collared Seedeater
Olive Sparrow                  
Green Backed Sparrow    
Botteri's Sparrow            
Grayish Saltator                
Black headed Saltator        
Blue black Grosbeak        
Red Winged Blackbird      
Eastern Meadowlark        
Melodious Blackbird        
Great Tailed Grackle        
Black Cowled Oriole        
Hooded Oriole                
Yellow Backed Oriole      
Altamira Oriole                  
Yellow Tailed Oriole          
Yellow Billed Cacique        
Spotted Sandpiper            
Semi palmated Plover        
Clay coloured Robin          

 The kids with our excellent guide Eduardo

Me and Eduardo after another successful birding session