Back to Belize – Part 2: A day to relax!

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Jan 30, 2009 | by Kevin Loughlin

Pied-billed Grebes

A Pied-billed Grebe trio on Crooked Tree Lagoon

It was a beautiful misty sunrise in Crooked Tree this morning, and I got a solid eight hours of sleep last night! I had been, for all intents and purposes, awake for 36 hours –less the 90 minute, restless nap I had from 1am to 2:30am before departing to the airport in Philadelphia, PA on Thursday. All day Wednesday we had snow, then rain, then way-below-freezing temperatures. I left early for PHL, fearful of icy conditions. The roads were fine, but my plane was late taking off. As one friend said, “how can anything that early in the morning be considered late?” Good question.

Neotropic Cormorants

Neoptropic Cormorants over Crooked Tree Lagoon

I arrived only 15 minutes “late” into the Philip Goldson International Airport in Ladyville, Belize. After a fine BBQ lunch, I hitched a ride north to Crooked Tree Village. I arrived just in time to jump right in with a Wildside birding group being led by Glenn Crawford. This was a private trip for a Clevland, Ohio organization which Wildside had arranged. When I asked the group what some of their trip highlights had been they announced in seemingly practiced unison, “Every single day!” Yup, something every tour leader/tour company owner loves to hear!

Yucatan Jay

Immature Yucatan Jay

This afternoon’s birding was taking us to thew pine-oak savanna to search for some Yucatan specialties. The first target was Yucatan Jay… a beautiful azure blue bird with black head and belly and yellow legs. Juveniles are white where the adults are black and they have a yellow bill. Immatures look like the adults but still have a yellow bill, which eventually turns black when an adult. We found them, though, it did take some walking. Actually, we didn’t get the birds while walking, we got them after getting back to our bus and driving a bit. But we figure, if we hadn’t walked for that amount of time, we would have missed them from the bus!

Yellow-lored (Yucatan) Parrots

Yellow-lored (Yucatan) Parrots

Next up, Yellow-lored (Yucatan) Parrot. Similar to other amazon parrots, this one is recognized by its not-so-obvious yellow lore and its much-more-obvious dark auricular (ear) patch. We found a huge, raucous flock and enjoyed them for quite some time.

Canivet's Emerald

Male Canivet’s Emerald

As we turned to walk back to the bus again, we were greeted by another specialty, a Canivet’s Emerald. An adult male. This diminutive hummingbird is all green with a long forked-tail and long bill, black on top with a red mandible. The female has a less forked tail with white tips, a white belly and a black mask with a thin, white post-ocular line.
The sun was nearly gone as we headed back to the new Crooked Tree Lodge for a celebratory beer, a wonderful dinner and great conversation while adding the day’s birds to the checklist.
So today, I’ll relax. Relaxing, of course, included early morning photography in the mist, enjoying a few warblers around the lodge, and a bit of work before heading out to find another adventure to share!
photos © Kevin Loughlin

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