Belize - birds and botflies - 2nd - 14th April 2006

Published by Julian Thomas (julian.thomas AT seevic-college.ac.uk)

Participants: Julian Thomas and Jane Clayton

Comments

For its size Belize plays host to an impressive variety of plant and animal life, and must be unique in Latin America with the high proportion of land area dominated by natural vegetation ; about 75%. Factors responsible for this favourable situation must be the low human population, and the relatively strong emphasis placed on conservation and sustainability. With relatively low violent crime, the fact that English is almost universal, empty and reasonable roads, and a network of lodges and accommodation at various prices in key locations it becomes a very attractive option for arranging your own trip.

2nd April We flew Air France to Houston (£630 return), but due to their incompetence we missed our connection to Belize City, and spent the night in Houston. A variety of Texan birds were seen between the airport and hotel ; Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Mockingbird, White Ibis, American Crow, Mourning Dove, Killdeer, Cliff Swallow and Upland Sandpipers.

3rd April. Air France put us on the 9.30 am flight to Belize, and flying in it was easy to see and appreciate just how much forest cover remained, together with a patch work of marshland and pine scattered savannah. We picked up a Suzuki jeep from Jabiru Car Rentals ($540 plus insurance) and set off for Crooked Tree Sanctuary that lies 35km north west of the airport. We paid our $5 entrance and drove to Paradise Inn, which is situated on the shore of the large lagoon. Paradise Inn was shabby but clean with friendly and helpful staff, costing $48 for a cabana. It is managed by the veteran Rudi Crawford, whose entire family have followed a career path as bird guides. It was easy to arrange trips from here and we booked a trip on the southern lagoon which cost $80 for four hours. This trip followed a route to the south of the lagoon, and then a substantial way up the forest fringed Spanish Creek. Unfortunately unexpectedly heavy recent rain had prevented the drawdown on the lagoon that normally occurs by April, bringing secretive species out from the surrounding logwood swamps and producing impressive concentrations of herons, egrets and storks.

However it was still a worthwhile experience and a good variety of aquatic birds were seen, even if numbers were generally low. The species recorded were Cattle Egret, Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Groove-billed Ani, Snail Kite, Tropical Kingbird, White –collared Seedeater, Caspian Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Osprey, Ringed, green, Belted, and Amazon Kingfishers, Mangrove Swallow, Neo-tropic Cormorant, American Black, Lesser Yellow-headed and Turkey Vultures, American Wood Stork, Tropical Mockingbird, Ruddy Ground Dove, Gray-breasted Martin, Clay-coloured Robin, Great-tailed Grackle, American Darter, Northern Water-thrush, Green Heron, Boat-billed Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Limpkin, Great White Egret, Glossy Ibis, Tricolored Heron, Little Blue Heron, Roseate Spoonbill, Blue-winged Teal, Black-collared Hawk, Short-tailed Hawk, Northern Jacana, American Coot, Least Sandpiper, White-tipped Dove, and Spotted Sandpiper. Arguably the two best birds were seen along the Spanish Creek, the elusive Sungrebe and the stunningly beautiful Agami Heron.

On our return I made a short excursion along the ‘Trogon Trail’ (actually most of the trails in Crooked Tree Sanctuary are roads in the village) and rounded off the day with relaxed viewing of Vermilion Flycatchers, Lesser Nighthawk, Common Pauraque, Acorn Woodpecker, Common Tody-flycatcher, Social Flycatcher, Great Kiskadee, Brown Jay, Northern Parula, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Blue-gray Tanager, and a colourful trio of Orchard, Hooded and Black-cowled Orioles.
All night long the plaintive calls of numerous limpkin and Pauraques created an atmospheric sound picture.

4th April. We set out at dawn for a walk around Crooked Tree Village in the company of Rudi Crawford Jnr, who had a good knowledge of local habitats and species and was well worth the $20 we paid for his services. We walked the Trogon Trail, through Cashew orchards and dry woodland, that closely resembled the vegetation of the lower Rio Grande valley in Texas. The Cashews themselves are attractive to a range of birds, with abundant nectar, fruit and seeds, and are a prime factor in attracting parrots in particular.

A good variety of scrub and forest edge species were seen, including Melodious Blackbird, Laughing Falcon, Plain Chacalaca, Pale-vented Pigeon, Aztec Parakeet, Yellow-headed Parrot, White-fronted Parrot, Red-lored Parrot, Canivet’s Emerald, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, House Wren, Magnolia Warbler, Yucatan Jay, Black-and-white Warbler, American Redstart, Grayish Saltator, Red-winged Blackbird, Black-headed Trogon, Masked Tityra, and Hooded Warbler. The only mammal seen was the Yucatan Squirrel.

We set off for the Rio Bravo Conservation Area and Chan Chich Lodge at 9.00am, and it took around 4 hours for the a journey, with a few stops for birding en route. We downloaded instructions on how to reach La Milpa, which lies at the north of the Rio Bravo CA, and these were clear and specific. Much of the journey (from the town of Orange Walk onwards was on unsealed roads, but the surface was reasonable and traffic very light so no problems presented themselves, although having a 4WD was definitely an asset. It is essential to refuel at Blue Creek. It may be worth noting that the stores and gas stations are run by the Mennonite community and so are closed on Sundays. It has to be said that any petrol stations are far and few between in Belize and our advice would be to fill up whenever possible.

Stops on the journey were opportunistic and revealed a few birds; the Rio Bravo just south of Blue Creek would have been worth a longer perusal. Additions to the list were Blue-black Grassquit, Black-headed Saltator, Northern Cardinal, Eastern Meadowlark, Roadside Hawk, Gray Hawk, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and numerous and impossibly exotic looking Ocellated Turkeys, as well as many White-tailed Deer in the environs of Gallon Jug.

Chan Chich Lodge (www.chanchich.com) is beautifully sited in the ruins of a Mayan Plaza, is undeniably luxurious, but also very expensive, and our budget was severely stretched by staying two days. We took an all inclusive package at $970 for two.
A variety of flowering trees in the lodge grounds meant we were entertained by a selection of nectar feeding birds during lunch, such as Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Stripe-throated Hermit as well as the antics of a hyperactive pair of Bat Falcons.

We then ventured into the forest along the Kings Tomb and Temple Loop trails. There are 9 miles of trails around the lodge, and with a map provided by the management it would be difficult to get lost. Guides at Chan Chich ranged from good to excellent, and we particularly appreciated the enthusiasm of Gilberto for his work.

Some attractive species were seen well on this work, although the number of species recorded was rather low, including brilliant views of White Hawk, as well as Red-billed Pigeon, Violaceous Trogon, Blue-crowned Motmot, Collared Aracari, Northern Barred Woodcreeper, Lineated Woodpecker, Eye-ringed Flatbill, Yellow-winged Tanager and the inevitable and noisy Montezuma’s Oropendula. Troops of both Belizean primates were found, the Central American Spider Monkey, and the Yucatan Black Howler.

In the evening we did a night drive that proved to be a grievous disappointment, with no mammals seen other than White-tailed Deer, and no nocturnal birds, other than a few Pauraques. We later walked to the suspension bridge, and 2+ Kinkajous made noisy progress in the palms.

5th April. At dawn we walked the River Trail. In dense forest it is probably best to concentrate on open areas at this time, as finding birds in the gloom of the forest is difficult. However after a barren spell we located Thrush-like Schiffornis, Kentucky Warbler, White-breasted Wood-wren, and Keel-billed Toucan while when we emerged from the forest Plumbeous Kite, Vaux’s Swift and Lesser Swallow-tailed Swifts wheeled overhead. Around the lodge we identified White-crowned Parrots’, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, and Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher. From 8.30 we walked the Bajo trail, which proved to be very productive. Much of this habitat was merging into the dry deciduous forest as distinct from true tropical rainforest. As usual with tropical forest birding there were quiet periods but we encountered at least one ant swarm that produced a bewildering variety of birds. Red-throated and Red-crowned Ant Tanagers were common in the under-story, together with Squirrel Cuckoo, Slaty-tailed Trogon, Smoky-brown, Olivaceous, Tawny-winged and Ruddy Woodcreepers, Stub-tailed Spadebill, Greenish Elaenia, Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher, Mangrove Vireo, Grey-headed Tanager, Long-billed Gnatwren, Rose-throated Tanager, and Scaled Pigeon. Three furtive Great Tinamous crept across the forest floor and an impressive Great Curassow was seen well but briefly as it crossed the path. Although King Vulture was seen viewing raptors in the forest was difficult, and it was frustrating not to see a calling Ornate Hawk Eagle overhead, but we did have a superb sighting of a calling and soaring Black Hawk Eagle.

In the afternoon we spent a leisurely session along the Sac Be trail, where birds coming to bathe and drink in the Chan Chich creek gave close views and video opportunities. These included several immaculate Red-capped and White-collared Manakins, while in parties of birds we encountered were Plain Xenops, Streak-headed Woodcreeper, Buff-throated Foilage-gleaner, and Pale-billed Woodpecker.

At night we did a night drive in our own vehicle and failed to find anything of real interest in my spotlight, other than a Morelet’s Crocodile in the stream by the suspension bridge; once again very disappointing.

6th April. We had an walk at dawn to the suspension bridge, and spending some time in this open area was profitable, with plenty of birds flying across the clearing, or foraging in the canopy, even if we did not locate the Lovely Cotinga that had been seen on earlier days. New species were White-necked Jacobin, Emerald Toucanet, Strong-billed Woodcreeper, Eastern Wood-pewee, Cinnamon Becard, Rose-throated Becard, Yellow-throated Vireo, Baltimore Oriole and Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Departing Chan Chich after breakfast, we went first to the escarpment, 9km beyond Sylvester Village (Chan Chich can supply a map). This gives breathtaking views over unbroken forest and the opportunity to view raptors, which seemed to work along the escarpment with a wind providing uplift. An hour and a half from 10.00am passed very quickly and gave sightings of 4 White Hawks, 2 American Swallow-tailed Kite, several Plumbeous Kites, 2 Black Hawk Eagles, 5 King Vultures, a displaying Bicoloured Hawk and one Great Black Hawk. The road to this site provided Collared Peccary and our first view of Red Brocket Deer.

Our second stop was at Laguna Seca, which is a short detour on the route to our next lodge at La Milpa. This was disappointing for water-birds, with only a few Jacanas and Green Herons seen, but compensation was offered by a spectacular aerial duel between an Ornate Hawk Eagle and two Plumbeous Kites.

La Milpa is run by Programme for Belize, a non profit organisation that seeks to link conservation with sustainable land uses including tourism. The comfortable cabanas are less stylish than at Chan Chich, but it is also significantly cheaper at $134 per person per day fully inclusive. Advance booking can be made through their website, www.pfbelize.org, or e-mail at pfbel@btl.net.

In the afternoon we walked along a loggers trail towards the Mayan site, quite arduous in the heat. It was fairly quiet birdwise, but another Great Curassow was seen, as well as the only Green Jays of the trip, plus Barred Antshrike, Black-capped Tityra, and Yellow-throated Euphonia.

In the evening a night spotlight drive with Vladamir was as productive as those at Chan Chich i.e. nothing was seen, although a walk along a trail later produced another Kinkajou. Unfortunately I discovered that my spotlight charger was completely ineffective with the 110V supply in Belize so I was unable to recharge my battery pack for the remainder of the trip

7th April. At dawn we walked along the road, before driving along the track to the La Milpa archaeological site, and we spent the morning exploring the forests around the impressive Mayan pyramids and tombs. During the pre-breakfast walk we were entertained by the amazing displays of White-collared Manakins and a nest building Spot-breasted Wren, while a Grey-headed Kite soared over the canopy.

A family of Howler Monkeys was found at the archaeological site, as well as the only White-nosed Coati of the trip (something of a contrast to Costa Rica where this species comes into the impossible to miss category).

A number of feeding flocks of birds were located, typically led by the Black-throated Shrike tanager and they included Worm-eating Warbler, Golden-crowned Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler as well as a variety of Woodcreepers, Tanagers and Woodpeckers.

A Purple-crowned Fairy at its nest site gave a photographic opportunity. Given that it was a particularly hot day and much of the forest seemed quite dry, this being the height of the dry season we decided to spend the afternoon by a secluded small pond that lies 500m along the road from the entrance gate to the Rio Bravo Conservation Area.

This was relaxed birdwatching, although we collected many mosquito bites to add to the infestation of chiggers we had collected earlier, presumably by walking through grass. It was a little disappointing that no mammals came to drink, but birds included Green-backed and Chipping Sparrow, Louisiana Waterthrush, Ruddy Quail Dove, Blue Grosbeak, and Blue-winged Warbler, while a pair of Grey-necked Wood rails skulked in dense vegetation around the pool. A highly wary snake seen here was identified as a Speckled Racer.

At night a spotlight drive in our own vehicle produced no mammals other than White-tailed Deer, and no nocturnal birds other than Pauraques, but by now we were getting used to this recurrent disappointment.

8th April. We made the usual walk along the road between dawn and breakfast, seeing a Central American Agouti, numerous Keel-billed Toucans, Mealy Parrots, Hook-billed Kite, and Blackburnian Warbler, then walked the rather ill defined and difficult Lagunita trail to another forest pool. Mammals seen here were Red Brocket Deer and Collared Peccary, and a variety of birds either came to drink, or were active in the surrounding trees. Grey Fronted and Ruddy Quail Doves were frequent visitors and a Royal Flycatcher hunted above it, its wispy nest suspended from the thinnest of branches above the water.

In the early afternoon I returned to the pool near the entrance gate, hoping to photograph American warblers, but I only managed reasonable shots of Magnolia Warbler, but did have good views of splendid Ivory-billed Woodcreepers and secretive Yellow-billed Caciques.

We paid a final visit to the pool along the lagunita trail in late afternoon, but saw no mammals, although Blue Bunting and Tennessee Warbler were new for our trip.

9th April. We made an early departure from La Milpa. Before leaving Chan Chich we had obtained permission to use their private road to the Western Highway. This saved considerable mileage on our journey to Gales Point, and allowed us to drive through an extensive area of remote rain forest. Security is obviously tight, and Chan Chich gave us letters that we had to present at gates, as well as a map, which was essential.

Brocket Deer and Gray Fox were seen crossing the road, while birds included Great Curassow, American Kestrel and Giant Cowbird (at Gallon Jug), a close encounter with a Collared Forest Falcon, Great Black Hawk, and at opportunity to photograph King Vultures at close range.

Gales Point is situated at the end of long spit of land that reaches out into the extensive southern lagoon, and we stayed in the comfortable Manatee Lodge www.manateelodge.com , at $272 for 2 persons, full board per day.

One reason for visiting here was to view West Indian Manatees, as I had never seen any kind of sirenian, but it seemed reasonable to suppose that the lagoon might offer some birding, although this was an unknown quantity.

In the afternoon we booked a boat trip to see manatees and tour the lagoon ($125). The manatees were fairly easily found; I suspected we were getting close as I realised vast quantities of faeces littered the water’s surface and we arrived at the ‘Manatee Hole’, a deep depression with a warm water spring, that is much favoured by resting manatees. Compared with cetaceans I was surprised how little time they took and how unobtrusively they surfaced, and can now understand how I failed to see Dugongs in Australia. As well as Manatees the surface was broken by impressively large Tarpon.

Although the lagoon was scenically magnificent and surrounded by pristine mangroves and unbroken forested hills birdlife was fairly sparse, but a few Egrets, Herons, Ospreys and Spoonbills were seen, as well as Royal and Sandwich Terns, and Brown Pelican.


10th April.JC spent the day relaxing while I went fishing, quite expensive for one person for a full day at $225. We fished two sessions, from 6-10 am , and in the late afternoon. The morning session was rather disappointing. I very quickly hit a Horse-eye Jack of around 5lb on a trolled rapala, but this was the only take on lures, or on our drifted mullet baits. Even this small fish made a furious line stripping run when first hooked. Large Snook, and schools of jack were attacking fish so our failure was hard to explain.

There was still plenty of interest to pass the time; schools of Spotted Eagle Rays drifted slowly past, and birds seen included Magnificent Frigate Bird, Reddish Egret, Laughing Gull and Common Black Hawk.

The afternoon session gave three screaming runs to livebaits fished in the main channel that drains the lagoon, but I only connected with one, and this gave a hard fighting Cubera Snapper, probably just short of 10lb. We had tried for several schools of Tarpon without success and the day seemed over when I put a Halco Sorcerer in front of a porpoising Tarpon. I just had time to register a bow wave behind my lure, before the rod was nearly pulled from my hands and the reel began to empty at an alarming rate as a solidly hooked Tarpon made its first impetuous run. After stripping perhaps 150m of line the fish flung itself out of the water in a series of prodigious leaps and I realised I had contacted a massive fish, in the 150lb class. The Tarpon fought with unbelievable power, stamina and speed. Even after two hours it was still capable of pulling over 100m of line in unstoppable runs, that would end in a series of leaps. It was by now completely dark, but we did have the moon to illuminate the scene. It was 2.5 hours before the Tarpon was released at the boat side and I was physically and emotionally exhausted after such sustained concentration and unrelenting physical effort. I should think one big Tarpon is enough for anyone in a days fishing, if not in a lifetime.

11th April. A few common birds were seen at Gales Point before our departure, such as Cinnamon Hummingbird, and close views of Golden-fronted Woodpecker. We then drove south to the Coxcomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary. This beautiful and extensive reserve at the foot of the Maya Mountains (128,000 acres) protects the headwaters of two major river systems and supports a great diversity of hardwood forest and their associated fauna, including all five of Belize’s cats as well as Baird’s Tapir. Information about the reserve is available on the website for Belize Audubon www.belizeaudubon.org/parks/cbws.htm , but surprisingly the website does not give a contact e-mail. They can be contacted for bookings through gitftshop@belizeaudubon.org. Accommodation is self catering and clean but basic. There is a range of accommodation ranging from dormitories to private cabanas at $53 per night. Entrance to the park is BZ$10, this being a one off payment, regardless of how many days you visit. It is apparently easy to hire guides but we were given an excellent map at the visitors centre, and the trails are extensive, well maintained, and well signposted so didn’t bother.

We stocked up on food in Maya Centre, at the start of the approach road to the reserve, but the range was astonishingly basic, so anyone visiting for more than a day or so might be well advised to travel onto the nearby town of Dangriga. Even the most imaginative cook might struggle to find new ways to serve Maggi noodles after a few days.

In the afternoon we walked the River Trail and up to Ben’s Bluff. This was moderately arduous but gave fantastic views over the Coxcomb basin. We felt it should be good for raptors but saw only vultures, including a few King Vultures. Mid-morning might have been better. We then spent till well after dusk along the Wari Loop Trail. Two US birders had seen Baird’s Tapir at the second lagoon along this path the previous night, and it is apparently a regular stake out, but we failed in this bid. The waiting was enlivened by Bare-throated Tiger Heron, Mottled Owl, American Pygmy Kingfisher, Boat-billed Heron and Orange-billed Sparrow. With a borrowed torch we located a Kinkajou, and other mammals seen during the day were Nine-banded Armadillo, Deppe’s Squirrel and Collared Peccary.

12th April. In the morning we walked along the Wari Loop, and this proved to be quite productive, with sightings of, among other birds, Bare-throated Tiger Heron, Gray-chested Dove, Long-tailed Hermit, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Chestnut-coloured Woodpecker, Rufous-breasted Spinetail, Yellow-faced Grassquit, Yellow-olive Flycatcher, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Thick-billed Seed-finch, Variable Seed-eater, Scarlet-rumped Tanager, Crimson-collared Tanager, Rufous Piha, Dot-winged Ant-wren, Wedge-tailed Sabrewing and Blue Ground-dove, while my personal favourite was an obliging and inquisitive Black-faced Ant-thrush.

There were some surprising apparent omissions from the avifauna at Coxcomb; in the Rio Bravo area Toucans and Parrots were difficult to miss, but we saw neither here.

In the afternoon we floated down the South Stann Creek, which gave relaxed bird watching and eyeball to eyeball encounters with various American warblers, tanagers, Black-headed Trogon, Chacalaca, Royal Flycatcher, Kingfishers and a Solitary Sandpiper that found its way onto a very poor trip wader list.

In the afternoon we walked the Tinamou and Gibnut Trails. These were in closed forest and little was seen although we did see Red Brocket Deer and definite great and possible Slaty-breasted Tinamous along the trail bearing their name. In the evening we drove to Maya Centre for a meal. Choosing a dish presented no challenge, as all that was available was rice and beans. Our return journey using the spotlight revealed, as we had now come to expect, absolutely nothing of interest.

However, spotlighting around the visitors centre revealed a Common Opossum and a Paca, but we were gripped off by reports of an Ocelot seen along the Currassow Trail.

13th April Our final full day in Belize was spent walking the Tinamou , Gibnut, and Currassow Trails in the morning, then as it had been so enjoyable in the heat of the day we went float tubing again in the afternoon, before a final and unsuccessful attempt to stake out Baird’s Tapir in the evening.

The float tubing once again proved productive, with dazzling Golden-headed Tanagers and Yellow-tailed Orioles seen at close range, as well as Crested Guans, Plumbeous Kites and another stunning Agami Heron. Neotropical River Otter are regularly seen here, and we noted several sprainting sites on rocks, but failed to find this species.

Mammals seen at night were Brocket Deer, Common Opossum, Kinkajou and Paca. One less desirable but legendary organism was probably acquired at this time, as two mosquito bites on my right hand and one on my left arm refused to heal but developed into the large red swellings (torsalo) with central breathing hole of the infamous Botfly. I am currently nursing three large holes in my body that were excavated by a Dermatologist. I do feel that a true wildlife enthusiast should have allowed at least one to complete its life cycle.

14th April A departure just after dawn from Coxcomb failed to reveal the hoped for Jaguar on the approach road, so we had to be satisfied with views of this species in the excellent Belize Zoo. Had we had more time we would also have visited Monkey Bay Sanctuary, that lies along the Western Highway, close to the Zoo.

Species Lists

List follows Birds of Belize, by H.Lee Jones (Helm).

Great Tinamou Tinamou major Three seen along the Bajo Trail at Chan Chich, and singles seen daily at Coxcomb, along the River and Tinamou trails. The fluting calls were regularly heard.

Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis. Seven were seen at the river mouth of the Southern Lagoon at Gales Point.

Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasiliensis. Common on the lagoon at Crooked Tree, where c500 were seen, the only others were 2 at Gales Point.

American Darter Anhinga anhinga. Fairly common at Crooked Tree with c20 seen on our boat ride, and a few at Gales Point/Southern Lagoon.

Magnificent Frigatebird Fregreta magnificans. About 10 seen around Gales Point, with superb photo opportunities with birds scavenging fish scraps.

Bare-throated Tiger-Heron Tigrisoma mexicanum. An obligingly tame bird on the lagoon along the Wari Loop at Coxcomb. Quite stunning in the scope with its rich but subtle markings.

Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias. About 20 seen at Crooked Tree, and another 5 at Gales Point.

Great Egret Ardea alba . About 20 of this cosmopolitan species seen at Crooked Tree and at Gales Point.

Snowy Egret Egretta thula. About 20 seen at Crooked Tree, and another 10 at Gales Point.

Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea. A few seen at Crooked Tree, and rather more common at Gales Point with c30 seen on the Southern Lagoon.

Tricolored Heron Egretta tricolour. About 8 seen at Crooked Tree lagoon.

Reddish Egret Egretta rufescens. Two were seen at the edge of mangroves on the Southern Lagoon at Gales Point.

Cattle Egret Bulbulcus ibis. Seen regularly on journeys through farmland with cattle, up to 50 daily.

Green Heron Butorides virescens. Quite common at both Crooked Tree and Gales Point, with c 25 seen daily at these locations, also seen at Laguna Seca, Chan Chich.

Agami Heron Agamia agami. This striking but secretive species is normally reliable at Crooked Tree, in the dry season, at it is forced to forage along exposed shorelines, but with the high water levels we were apparently fortunate to find one perched in a tree along the Spanish Creek. We had even better views of a second as we floated down the South Stann Creek in the Coxcomb Reserve. Definitely a trip highlight, particularly as I had missed this species in Los Llanos and Manu.

Black-crowned Night-heron Nycticorax nycticorax. Five were seen at Crooked Tree lagoon. For some reason we failed to see the supposedly common and widespread Yellow-crowned Night-Heron.

Boat-billed Heron Cochlearius cochlearius. Some 15 were seen at a roost along Spanish Creek at Crooked Tree, where up to 30 are present, with 4-5 seen at a roost at the first lagoon along the Wari Trail in the Coxcomb Sanctuary.

White Ibis Eudocimus albus. Two seen in drainage ditch in Houston and two by the lagoon at Gales Point.

Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus. Two seen at Crooked Tree lagoon was the only sighting.

Roseate Spoonbill Platalea ajaja. Just one seen at Crooked Tree (it should have been numerous), but 12 seen on the lagoon at Gales Point.

Wood Stork Mycteria Americana. A few examples seen at Crooked Tree and Gales Point; should have been very numerous if water levels were lower.

American Black Vulture Coragyps atratus. Less common than Turkey Vulture, but still widespread and seen at all sites, up to 50 daily.

Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura. Seen daily in fairly large numbers at all sites visited.

Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture Cathartes burrovianus. Identified at Crooked Tree, very likely to be overlooked.

King Vulture Sarcoramphus papa . Fairly regularly seen at Chan Chich , La Milpa and Coxcomb, but just 1-2 birds daily, but at least five scavenging at a dump along the private road from Chan Chich gave great views at photographic range of what is undoubtedly an amazing looking bird.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck Dendrocygna autumnalis. Numbers flying over La Milpa in the evening.

Blue-winged Teal Anas discors. About 20 seen at Crooked Tree and 12 at Laguna Seca, near Chan Chich.

Osprey Pandion haliaetus. Quite common at Crooked Tree, with c10 seen. Several observed catching or carrying Tilapia. Another 4 seen at Southern Lagoon, Gales Point. All appeared to be the migratory carolinensis.

Grey-headed Kite Leptodon cayanensis. I dipped on this lifer as one circled over JC at La Milpa as I crawled through bushes in a futile attempt to photograph displaying White-collared Mannikins.

Hook-billed Kite Chondrohierax uncinatus. One light morph bird seen perched along the road at La Milpa.

Swallow-tailed Kite Elanoides forficatus. Definitely in my list of the worlds ten most elegant birds, just three were seen, at the escarpment at Chan Chich.

Snail Kite Rostrhamus sociabilis. Only seen at Crooked Tree, where it was fairly common, with up to 15 seen, and we had the opportunity to watch them dealing with Apple Snails.


Plumbeous Kite Ictinia plumbea. Small numbers of this aerial species were seen most days at Chan Chich, La Milpa and Coxcomb.

Black-collared Hawk Busarellus nigricollis. One seen at a nest site along Spanish Creek near Crooked Tree lagoon.

Bicolored Hawk Accipiter bicolor. One seen displaying at the escarpment near Chan Chich. The display has apparently never been recorded so it is pity I didn’t make very detailed notes at the time. After soaring for a period it began switch back flying, rising up high, then plummeting down, before shooting up in the air again.

White Hawk Leucopternis albicollis. This beautiful raptor was encountered perched below the forest canopy at Chan Chich, but is presumably more reliably encountered at the escarpment, where four were seen soaring, including two together.

Common Black Hawk Buteogallus anthracinus. Up to 4 seen soaring over the mangroves around the Southern Lagoon at Gales Point.

Great Black Hawk Buteogallus urobitinga. One definite seen along the private road from Chan Chich to the Western Highway, and a probable just north of La Milpa.

Gray Hawk Asturina nitida. One soaring over farmland just north of the Rio Bravo conservation area forest at Blue Creek.

Roadside Hawk Buteo magnirostris. Seen regularly in farmland and at Chan Chich, La Milpa, and Coxcomb, usually living up to its name by perching along roadsides, up to 4 daily.

Short-tailed Hawk Buteo brachyurus. Six birds seen on five days in widely scattered locations, such as Crooked Tree and the escarpment. All but one were of the easier to identify light morph.

Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis. Two seen at Houston Airport, Texas.

Black Hawk-Eagle Spizaetus tyrannus. Forest eagles are perhaps my favourite group of birds, so I was really pleased to see this species. It was heard calling from a perch in the canopy at Chan Chich (close to the lodge), then gave terrific views as it flew up and circled round for a lengthy period. The next day two were seen soaring along the escarpment.

Ornate Hawk Eagle Spizaetus ornatus. This beautiful raptor was heard displaying over the Bajo Trail at Chan Chich, but frustratingly could not be seen through the canopy, but I later had terrific views of one being mobbed by Plumbeous Kites at Laguna Seca. Definitely a trip highlight.

Collared Forest Falcon Micrastur semitorquatus. We had brief but close views of this splendid bird in forest as we drove from Chan Chich to the Western Highway.

Laughing Falcon Herptotheres cachinnans. Two seen at Crooked Tree, one at the escarpment and one at La Milpa, as usual occupying convenient perches and scrutinising the ground.

American Kestrel Falco sparverius. One seen over farmland at Gallon Jug.

Bat Falcon Falco rufigularis. Small but perfectly formed, this dashing species was regularly hunting around the plaza at Chan Chich, and another two were seen at the escarpment.

Plain Chacalaca Ortalis vetula. Three seen at Crooked Tree, with many others giving their noisy vocalisations, also present at La Milpa, and up to ten daily at Coxcomb.

Crested Guan Penelope purpurascens. Reasonably easy to see in protected areas, due to its arboreal habits. Two seen around Plaza at Chan Chich, three perched in trees around Field Centre at La Milpa, and six seen at Coxcomb, the best views here obtained at we float tubed down the river.

Great Curassow Crax rubra. This impressive bird was seen on three occasions, a female along the Bajo Trail at Chan Chich , another along the trail to the archaeological site at La Milpa, and a male crossing the road here.

Ocellated Turkey Meleagris ocellata. Although a globally near threatened species this striking bird was impossible to miss at Chan Chich and La Milpa, with many very tame birds around the lodges and feeding along roadside verges along the access roads. Several males seen giving the magnificent display.

Gray-necked Wood-Rail Aramides cajanea. A pair skulked in bamboo thickets by the roadside pool near the entrance gate to the Rio Bravo Conservation Area.

American Coot Fulica Americana. Small numbers (c15) seen on the lagoon at Crooked Tree.

Sungrebe Heliornis fulica. One example of this elusive species seen among overhanging vegetation along Spanish Creek, on the boat trip at Crooked Tree.

Limpkin Aramus guarauna. Only one was seen (eating an apple snail) on the boat ride at Crooked Tree, but it was abundant in the area, to judge from the number of wails and screams heard from this species at night.

Killdeer Charadrius vociferous. Two seen at Houston Airport.

Northern Jacana Jacana spinosa. Quite common on the floating vegetation around Crooked Tree Lagoon, with c30 seen, also noted at Laguna Seca, near Chan Chich.

Solitary Sandpiper Tringa solitaria. One seen along the river at Coxcomb Reserve.

Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularia. A few examples seen at Crooked Tree, and around the Southern Lagoon at Gales Point.

Upland Sandpiper Bartramia longicauda. Several examples (c30) seen on the short grass at Houston Airport.

Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla. A party of 8 seen along the shores of the lagoon at Crooked Tree.

Laughing Gull Larus atricilla. Just one seen with roosting terns at the Southern Lagoon, Gales Point.

Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica. Twelve seen with roosting Caspian Terns along the shores at Crooked Tree lagoon.

Caspian Tern Sterna caspia. Some 25 seen at Crooked Tree lagoon.

Royal Tern Sterna maxima. Some 30 seen at Gales Point, mostly roosting around the lagoon entrance.

Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis. One seen at Gales Point.

Pale-vented Pigeon Columba cayennensis. A few examples seen at Crooked Tree, and rather more numerous at Gales Point.

Scaled Pigeon Columba speciosa. Two examples seen along the Bajo trail at Chan Chich.

Red-billed Pigeon Columba flavirostris. Quite common in tall trees around the Plaza at Chan Chich, with up to 20 seen daily.

Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura. Two seen at Houston Airport.

Ruddy Ground-Dove Columbina talpacoti. Several seen at Crooked Tree, otherwise frequently seen along roadsides, and common at Gales Point.

Blue Ground-Dove Claravis pretiosa. 4-5 were seen daily along paths at Coxcomb, all were the unmistakeable and rather attractive blue males.

White-tipped Dove Leptotila verreauxi. Three seen along the Trogon Trail at Crooked Tree.

Gray-fronted Dove Leptotila rufaxilla. About 5 seen coming to drink at the pool on the Lagunita trail at La Milpa, and others flushed off paths.

Gray-chested Dove Leptotila cassini. About 5 seen daily at Coxcomb, generally poddling along paths.

Ruddy Quail-Dove Geotrygon montana. Usually seen coming to forest pools, where we had good views of this unobtrusive bird, seen at La Milpa and Coxcomb in small numbers.

Aztec Parakeet Aratinga nana. The fact that this was the only long-tailed, small parrot in Belize made it easy to identify, which was just as well as they were normally seen as flocks shooting past. Up to 20 seen daily at Crooked Tree, Chan Chich and La Milpa.

White-crowned Parrot Pionus senilis. Fairly easy to identify in flight, small numbers seen daily at Chan Chich and La Milpa, up to 5 daily.

White-fronted Parrot Amazona albifrons. Up to ten seen at Crooked Tree, with good views of birds feeding in silk-cotton trees, and similar numbers seen on three days at Chan Chich and La Milpa.

Red-lored Parrot Amazona autumnalis. This relatively large parrot was fairly numerous at Crooked Tree, Chan Chich and La Milpa, with up to 20 seen daily at these locations.

Yellow-headed Parrot Amazona oratrix. Although this species is globally endangered it was quite easy to see at Crooked Tree, with some 30 seen during our morning walk of April 4th.

Mealy Parrot Amazona farinosa. A few pairs seen at La Milpa. These seemed rather greener than the ones I had previously seen in Peru, where the appearance of being ‘dusted with flour’ allowed recognition at long range.

Squirrel Cuckoo Piaya cayana. Two were seen at Chan Chich and a third at Coxcomb, also heard on several occasions.

Groove-billed Ani Crotophaga sulcirostris. Common at Crooked Tree, with up to 30 seen daily in groups of 5-8 birds, but not seen elsewhere.

Mottled Owl Ciccaba virgata. We fared very poorly in our attempts to track down owls. This species was found along the Wari Loop at Coxcomb.

Lesser Nighthawk Chordeiles acutipennis. Just one seen at Crooked Tree.

Common Pauraque Nyctidromus albicollis. This species was indeed common and seen in large numbers along paths and roads at Crooked Tree, Chan Chich, La Milpa and Coxcomb.

Vaux’s Swift Chaetura vauxi. Small numbers regularly seen swirling overhead at Chan Chich.

Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift Panyptila cayennensis. Rather less numerous than the preceding species, but still regularly seen at Chan Chich.

Long-billed Hermit Phaethornis longirostris. A few examples seen daily at Coxcomb Reserve.

Stripe-throated Hermit Phaethornis striigularis. A single example of this small hummer seen at Chan Chich, and perhaps 4 at Coxcomb.

Scaly-breasted Hummingbird Phaeochroa cuvieri. Singles seen at Crooked Tree and Chan Chich.

Wedge-tailed Sabrewing Campylopterus curvipennis. One seen along the river at Coxcomb.

White-necked Jacobin Florisuga mellivora. Two commandeered the airspace around the suspension bridge at Chan Chich, they were aggressive to other hummingbirds.

Canivet’s Emerald Chlorostlbon canivetti . One seen visiting cashew blossom at Crooked Tree.

White-bellied Emerald Amazilia candida. Several visiting feeders at La Milpa, up to 5 seen daily.


Rufous-tailed Hummingbird Amazilia tzacatl. The most frequently identified hummingbird, and a few examples seen most days at all sites.

Cinnamon Hummingbird Amazilia rutila. A few examples of this distinctive species seen at Gales Point.

Purple-crowned fairy Heliothryx barroti. One seen near its nest site at the La Milpa archaeological site, the incredibly neat cup shaped nest fastened to a bare branch.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Archilochus colubris. One seen at Crooked Tree.

Black-headed Trogon Trogon melanocephalus. The most common trogon, although more often heard than seen, it was still frequently encountered at Crooked Tree, Chan Chich, La Milpa and Coxcomb.

Violaceous Trogon Trogon violaceus. Four were located on our first walk at Chan Chich, two obligingly in the company of Black-headeds for comparison.

Slaty-tailed Trogon Trogon massena. Frequently heard at Chan Chich and La Milpa this species was initially elusive, but several were tracked down giving excellent views of this striking species.

Blue-crowned Motmot Motmotus momota. Only one was seen near the Kings Tomb at Chan Chich, where this species habitually nests.

Ringed Kingfisher Ceryle torquata. This huge species was quite common at Crooked Tree, and also seen at Gales Point, with close views at Coxcomb as we floated down the river.

Belted Kingfisher Ceryle alcyon. Several seen at Crooked Tree and at Gales Point.

Amazon Kingfisher Chloroceryle amazona. Just one seen along the Spanish Creek at Crooked Tree.

Green Kingfisher Chloroceryle Americana. A few examples seen at Crooked Tree and at Coxcomb, where as with other species float tubing proved to be the best way of viewing them.

American Pygmy Kingfisher Chloroceryle nana. One flew across the lagon at Gales Point, while another gave brilliant views at the pool along the Wari Loop at Coxcomb Reserve.

Rufous-tailed Jacamar Galbula ruficauda One seen along the Wari Loop trail in Coxcomb.

Emerald Toucanet Aulacorhynchus prasinus. Two seen near suspension bridge at Chan Chich.

Collared Aracari Pteroglossus torquatus. Excellent views of perched birds, usually in the early mornings at Chan Chich and La Milpa.

Keel-billed Toucan Ramphastus sulfuratus. The ‘national bird of Belize’, Toucans certainly define the neo-tropics. Commonly seen at both Chan Chich and La Milpa, and most easily viewed as groups perched in bare trees in the early morning. Up to 15 seen daily at both locations, but absent at Coxcomb.

Acorn Woodpecker Melanerpes formicivorus. Small groups of this distinctive species seen in pine/oak savannah at Crooked Tree.

Black-cheeked Woodpecker Melanerpes pucherani . Small numbers seen daily at Chan Chich, La Milpa and Coxcomb. At Chan Chich seen feeding on nectar in a surprisingly agile style.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker Melanerpes aurifrons. One seen at Crooked Tree, while at Gales Point a pair were nesting in a coconut palm tree.

Smoky-brown Woodpecker Veniliornis fumigatus. One to two birds seen most days at Chan Chich, La Milpa and Coxcomb, often associated with mixed species flocks.

Chestnut-colored Woodpecker Celeus castaneus. One seen along the Gibnut Trail at Coxcomb, working tree trunks at low level in the forest interior.

Lineated Woodpecker Dryocopus lineatus. An adult seen with accompanying juvenile around plaza at Chan Chich.

Pale-billed Woodpecker Campephilus guatemalensis. Pairs of this spectacular ‘pecker seen fairly regularly at Chan Chich and La Milpa.

Rufous-breasted Spinetail Synallaxis erythrothorax. I found this group very challenging in Peru, but no problem here as this is the sole representative in Belize. Common and easy to see (being very vocal) in tall grass in past cleared areas in Coxcomb.

Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner Automolus ochrolaemus. One example seen at Chan Chich – a singing bird, and a pair found at Coxcomb.

Plain Xenops Xenops minutes. Surprisingly distinctive, singles were seen at Chan Chich, Coxcomb and La Milpa.

Tawny-winged Woodcreeper Dendrocincla anabatina. Three were seen accompanying an army ant swarm along the Bajo trail at Chan Chich, offering comparison with Ruddy and Olivaceous Woodcreepers.

Ruddy Woodcreeper Dendrocincla homochroa. A single seen accompanying an army ant swarm along the Bajo trail at Chan Chich.

Olivaceous Woodcreeper Sittasomus griseicapillus. Three seen accompanying an army ant swarm along the Bajo trail at Chan Chich, also found at Coxcomb and La Milpa.

Strong-billed Woodcreeper Xiphocolaptes promeropirhynchus. The largest species in Belize, had good views of two in forest along the road by the suspension Bridge at Chan Chich.

Northern Barred-Woodcreeper Dendrocolaptes sanctithomae. The barring was not obvious in the gloom of the forest, singles seen in Chan Chich and La Milpa.

Ivory-billed Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus flavigaster. Singles seen by the roadside pond at La Milpa, and at Coxcomb.

Streak-headed Woodcreeper Lepidocolaptes souletii. Just a single seen at Chan Chich.

Barred Antshrike Thamnophilus doliatus. Pairs seen at La Milpa and Chan Chich.

Dot-winged Antwren Microrhapias quixensis. Pairs seen in the sub-canopy on two occasions at Coxcomb.

Dusky Antbird Cercomacra tyrannina. One only seen at Coxcomb.

Black-faced Antthrush Formicarius analis. An excellent bird, almost like a rail as it walks over the forest floor, heard a number and saw two along the Wari Loop trail at Coxcomb.

Greenish Elaenia Myiopagis viridicata. A single along the Bajo trail at Chan Chich.

Ochre-bellied Flycatcher Mionectes oleaginous. Small numbers seen most days at Chan Chich and La Milpa, often around streams.

Yellow-bellied Elaenia Elaenia flavogaster. A few examples seen in forest edge at Crooked Tree and Coxcomb.

Northern Bentbill Oncostma cinereigulare. One seen at Coxcomb.

Common Tody-Flycatcher Todirostrum cinereum. A few examples seen in scrubby areas, e.g. at Crooked Tree.

Eye-ringed Flatbill Rhynchocyclus brevirostris. Three found perched in forest understory at Chan Chich.

Stub-tailed Spadebill Platyrinchus cancrominus. One example of this tiny active species seen at Chan Chich.

Yellow-olive Flycatcher Tolmomyias sulphurescens. Three seen at Coxcomb.

Royal Flycatcher Onychorhynchus coronatus. Seen by their wispily woven nests that hang over water from the thinnest of branches, at La Milpa and Coxcomb, three birds in all.

Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher Myiobius sulphureipygius. Small numbers seen most days at Chan Chich and La Milpa, mostly around streams.

Eastern Wood Pewee Contopus virens . One at Chan Chich.

Vermilion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus. The ‘fiery coal’ was common at Crooked Tree, but not seen elsewhere.

Dusky-capped Flycatcher Myiarchus tuberculifer. Four seen at Crooked Tree.

Brown-crested Flycatcher Myiarchus tyrannulus. A few examples at Crooked Tree and Chan Chich.

Great Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus. This exhibitionistic species was seen at Crooked Tree and Chan Chich.

Social Flycatcher Myiozetetes similes. A common species seen daily at all locations. At La Milpa a nest was built in a sapling, directly above a wasps nest; coincidence or a strategy to avoid predation?

Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher Myiodynastes luteiventris. A few examples of this summer visitor seen around the plaza at Chan Chich.

Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholies. Very common in all forest edges, open country and savannah. I did not attempt to identify Couch’s Kingbird.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Tyrannus forficatus. A few examples of this rather lovely bird at Gallon Jug.

Thrush-like Schiffornis Schiffornis turdinus. Two examples of this tame but unobtrusive species seen in forest at Chan Chich.

Rufous Piha Lipaugus unirufus. One seen along Tinamou trail at Coxcomb, although I would not exclude Rufous Mourner.

Cinnamon Becard Pachyramphus cinnamomeus. A pair seen around the suspension bridge clearing at Chan Chich.

Rose-throated Becard Pachyramphus aglaiae. A pair seen around the suspension bridge clearing at Chan Chich.

Masked Tityra Tityra semifasciatus. Much the most common Tityra, with up to 4 seen daily at Chan Chich and La Milpa.

Black-crowned Tityra Tityra inquisitor. Up to 2 birds seen daily at La Milpa.

White-collared Manakin Manacus candei. I had previously had unsatisfactory views of this species in Costa Rica, but it was common in Belize in all forest sites and we had great views of displaying males, an amazing spectacle as they bounced from branch to branch, with loud accompanying wing-snaps.

Red-capped Manakin Pipra mentalis. Up to six males drinking together in the creek at Chan Chich, in the late afternoon. In the gloom of the forest their fluorescent scarlet crowns seemed astonishingly bright. Also common at La Milpa.

Mangrove Vireo Vireo pallens. One seen in dry forest at Chan Chich; a long way from any mangroves.

Yellow-throated Vireo Vireo flavifrons. One example of this smart bird seen around the suspension bridge at Chan Chich.

Yellow-green Vireo Vireo flavoviridis. Singles seen at Chan Chich and La Milpa.

Tawny-crowned Greenlet Hylophilus ochraceiceps. Singles seen at Chan Chich and La Milpa.

Lesser Greenlet Hylophilus decurtatus. A few examples of this canopy dweller seen at Chan Chich, La Milpa and Coxcomb.

Green Jay Cyanocoraax yuccas. Certainly less common than in Texas, four examples of this showy species were seen along the track to the Plaza at La Milpa.

Brown Jay Cyanocorax morio. A common species, seen daily in all locations, always in small flocks.

Yucatan Jay Cyanocorax yucatanicus. A very showy endemic, family groups at Crooked Tree gave stunning views from just a few feet, with immatures cadging food from adults, even though they would have been a year old.

Gray-breasted Martin Progne chalybea. Common at Crooked Tree.

Mangrove Swallow Tachycineta albilinea. Common at Crooked Tree and gales Point.

Ridgway’s Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx ridgwayi. Common around the buildings at La Milpa and Coxcomb.

Cliff Swallow petrochelidon pyrrhonota. Many around bridges in Texas.

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica. Numbers seen over farmland in various locations, hundreds moving north at Gales Point.

Spot-breasted Wren Thryothorus maculipectus. A bird gave good views at La Milpa, carrying nesting material to a site about 2m high in a tangle of dense herbage.

House Wren Troglodytes aedon. A few seen at Crooked Tree.

White-breasted Wood-Wren Hemicorhina leucosticta. Many heard singing, but a few seen at Chan Chich and La Milpa.

Long-billed Gnatwren Ramphocaenus melanurus. Singles seen at Chan Chich and Coxcomb.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Polioptila caerulea. Just a single seen at Crooked Tree.

Clay-colored Robin Turdus grayi. Common at Crooked Tree and also at Coxcomb.

Gray Catbird Dumetella carolinensis. A few examples of this winter visitor seen at Crooked Tree and La Milpa.

Tropical Mockingbird Mimus gilvus. Common in scrub and open country, such as Crooked Tree and Gales Point.

Northern Mockingbird. Three in Houston.

Blue-winged Warbler Vermivora pinus. We saw quite a good selection of American Warblers, in a variety of habitats, sometimes in mixed species flocks in forest. This species was seen at Chan Chich and Coxcomb.

Tennessee Warbler Verimivora peregrina. One at La Milpa.

Northern Parula Parula Americana. One seen at Crooked Tree was only my second view of this attractive sprite.

Yellow Warbler Dendroica petachia. Singles seen at Coxcomb, Gales Point and Crooked Tree. For some reason we did not find the supposedly very common Mangrove Warbler at Gales Point.

Chestnut-sided Warbler Dendroica pensylvanica. Three examples seen at Coxcomb.

Magnolia Warbler Dendroica magnolia. This was a new species, but it was probably the most common warbler, with small numbers seen daily at Crooked Tree, La Milpa and Coxcomb.

Black-throated Green Warbler Dendroica virens. Just one seen at Chan Chich.

Blackburnian Warbler Dendroica fusca. One at La Milpa.

Black-and-white Warbler Mniotilta varia. Singles seen working along branches at Crooked Tree and La Milpa.

American Redstart Sarcophaga ruticilla. Quite a common species, with small numbers seen daily at Crooked Tree, Chan Chich and Coxcomb.

Worm-eating Warbler Helmitheros vermivorus. One seen at La Milpa, and two at Coxcomb, all in mixed species flocks.

Northern Waterthrush Seiurus noveboracensis. Nearly ubiquitous around pools and along streams, in small numbers, in all locations visited.

Louisiana Waterthrush Seiurus motacilla. Not as common as the preceding species, but a few seen at La Milpa and Coxcomb.

Kentucky Warbler Oporornis formosus. One seen at Chan Chich.

Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas. Fairly common in dense vegetation close to water, seen at most locations.

Hooded Warbler Wilsonia citrina. Typically seen low around streams and pools in forest, at Chan Chich, La Milpa and Coxcomb.

Golden-crowned Warbler Basileuterus culcivorus. One at la Milpa.

Black-throated Shrike-Tanager Lanio aurantius. A striking species, seen in mixed species flocks at Chan Chich and La Milpa. Reminiscent of an Australian Whistler.

Gray-headed Tanager Eucometis penicillata. About five seen attending an ant swarm at Chan Chich, and a single seen at La Milpa.

Red-crowned Ant-Tanager Habia rubra. Less common in forest areas than the next species, but still seen daily at all forest sites visited.

Red-throated Ant-Tanager Habia fuscicauda. A noisy and characteristic bird of the understory at all forest sites visited.

Rose-throated Tanager Piranga roseogularis. One example of this attractive Yucatan endemic seen at Chan Chich.

Summer Tanager Piranga rubra. Two seen at Chan Chich.

Crimson-collared Tanager Ramphocelus sanguinolentus . Two seen in the regenerating forest areas at Coxcomb.

Passerini’s Tanager Ramphocelus passerinii. A few examples recorded in the regenerating forest areas at Coxcomb.

Blue-gray Tanager Thraupis episcopus. Common at Crooked Tree and Gales Point.

Yellow-winged Tanager Thraupis abbas. Quite common in the canopy around clearings at Chan Chich and La Milpa.

Yellow-throated Euphonia Euphonia hirundinacea. Two singles seen at La Milpa.

Golden-hooded Tanager Tangara larvata. Two examples of this splendidly colourful species were seen at we float tubed down the river at Coxcomb.

Red-legged Honeycreeper Cyanerpes cyaneus. Two seen visiting flowers at Chan Chich, and a group of five seen at la Milpa.

Blue-black Grassquit Volatinia jacarina. Large numbers along roadsides on the road to Blue Creek, mostly in rice growing areas.

Variable Seedeater Sporophila americana. At least 10 seen in scrubby areas at Coxcomb.

White-collared Seedeater Sporophila schistacea. Very common and widespread.

Thick-billed Seedfinch Oryzoborus funereus. About 10 seen at Coxcomb.

Yellow-faced Grassquit Tiaris olivacea. Common around the buildings at Coxcomb.

Orange-billed Sparrow Arremon aurantiirostris. This unmistakeable species was seen coming to drink at a pool at Coxcomb.

Green-backed Sparrow Arremonops chloronotus. One coming to drink at the roadside pool at La Milpa.

Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina One at La Milpa.

Grayish Saltator Saltator coerulescens. Singles seen at Crooked tree and Coxcomb.

Black-headed Saltator Saltator atriceps. Very noisy and hard to miss at Chan Chich, La Milpa and Coxcomb, with up to 10 seen daily in small groups.

Black-faced Grosbeak Caryothraustes poliogaster. One example of this impressive finch seen in forest at Chan Chich.

Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis. About 10 seen at various times as we drove to Chan Chich.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak Pheucticus ludovicianus. A smart male seen at Chan Chich.

Blue Bunting Cyanocompsa parellina. Small numbers coming to drink at the forest pool along the Lagunita trail at La Milpa.

Blue Grosbeak Passerina caerulea. Perhaps 10 seen along the road between Blue Creek and La Milpa.

Red-winged Blackbird Aeglaius phoenicerus. Just a single in reeds at Crooked Tree.

Eastern Meadowlark Sturnella magna. One seen in farmland near Blue Creek.

Melodious Blackbird Dives dives. A common and widespread species in open country and forest edges.

Great-tailed Grackle Quiscalus mexicanus. A very common species in urban areas and open country.

Giant Cowbird Molothrus oryzivorus. Seen at Gallon Jug, appropriately perched on cows, and sneaking around Oropendula colonies at La Milpa, where it was clearly unwelcome.

Black-cowled Oriole Icterus prosthemelas. Seen feeding on palm flowers at Crooked Tree, also small numbers at La Milpa and Coxcomb.

Orchard Oriole Icterus spurious. 1-2 birds seen daily at Crooked Tree and Coxcomb.

Hooded Oriole Icterus cucullatus. Several seen at Crooked Tree, often feeding on palm flowers, a few observed at Coxcomb.

Yellow-tailed Oriole Icterus mesomelas. Two seen in reeds along the river at Coxcomb, during our float tubing.

Baltimore Oriole Icterus galbula. Two seen at Chan Chich, and at Coxcomb.

Yellow-billed Cacique Amblycercus holoseiceus. A fairly secretive species of dense understory, this species was seen at la Milpa and Coxcomb.

Montezuma Oropendula Psarocolius montezuma. Hard to miss at both Chan Chich, where there were nesting trees. Many birds nest building, or displaying with far-carrying calls.

List follows ‘A field guide to the mammals of Central America and Southeast Mexico’, by Fiona A.Reid.

Common Opossum Didelphis marsupialis. Anthropocentric value judgements have no validity, but this is a really scruffy looking mammal. Seen at night around the centre at Coxcomb, on the ground, and climbing trees with surprising agility.

Nine-banded Armadillo Dasypus novemcinctus. One crossed our path along the Wari Loop at Coxcomb.

Yucatan Black Howler Alouatta pigra. Inevitably noisy and fairly easy to see at Chan Chich and La Milpa, with groups of up to 10 encountered most days.

Central American Spider Monkey Ateles geoffroyi. Seen at Chan Chich, where a group of c10 moved through the canopy around the plaza on two occasions.

Yucatan Squirrel Scirus yucatanensis. This fairly large squirrel was seen raiding cashew nut trees at Crooked Tree, c7 seen.

Deppe’s Squirrel Scirus deppei. Three examples of this small species were seen at Coxcomb.

Central American Agouti Dasyprocta punctata. One seen crossing the track at La Milpa.

Paca Agouti paca. An example of this heavily built rodent was seen with a spotlight crossing the open areas at Coxcomb on two occasions.

Gray Fox Urocyon cineroargenteus. One seen crossing the road late morning in savannah close to Gales Point.

White-nosed Coati Nasua narica. In contrast to Costa Rica, where this species was impossible to miss, we only saw one, at the Mayan Site at La Milpa. A single individual would almost certainly be a male.

Kinkajou Potos flava. I wouldn’t say it was easy to find any nocturnal mammals in Belize, but this was the most easy to locate due to its noisy movements through the canopy. There were at least 2 in palms at Chan Chich, another was seen at La Milpa, and we had two further sightings at Coxcomb.

West Indian Manatee Trichechus manatus. Apparently some 30 Manatees can be found at ‘Manatee hole’ a deep area with springs in the Southern Lagoon at Gales Point, and this is where I saw this new species. They were quite unobtrusive when surfacing , just rising gently, taking a quick breath, then sinking again for 6-8 minutes.

Collared Peccary Tayassu tajacu. There were 12 foraging along the track just below the escarpment at Chan Chich, the other sightings were singles at La Milpa and Coxcomb.

White-tailed Deer Odocoilus virginianus. Common on the farmland at Gallon Jug, with smaller numbers seen around La Milpa. Two very young fawns were found in long grass.

Red Brocket Mazama Americana. Rather like a duiker, this forest species was seen at the escarpment, twice at La Milpa and twice at Coxcomb.
Cane Toad Bufo marinus. One at Coxcomb.

American Crocodile Crocodylus acutus. One fairly large croc seen in the lagoon at Gales Point.

Morelet’s Crocodile Crocdylus moreleti. One about 1.5m seen in the pool by the suspension bridge at Chan Chich at night.

Common Slider Trachemys scripta. A few in the pool by the suspension bridge at Chan Chich.

White-lipped Mud Turtle Kinosternum leucostomum. A few in the pools along the Wari Loop at Coxcomb.

Brown Racer Dryadophis melanolomus. One at La Milpa.

Speckled Racer Drymobius margaritiferus. One seen around a pool at La Milpa, this species hunts frogs.

Green Iguana Iguana iguana. Two large specimens seen at Crooked Tree.

Striped Basilisk Basiliscus vittatus. Common around the plaza at Chan Chich.

Spiny-tailed Iguana Ctenosaur similes. Two at Crooked Tree.

Central American Whiptail Ameiva festiva. One at La Milpa.

Other creatures encountered were the Owl Butterfly, Morpho Butterfly, Tarantula Hawk, Red-rumped Tarantula, Scorpions and the Botfly.