3 November 2016
Stirring from a deep sleep, my ears pick up on the ambient noise of early morning. The dimness of light suggests the morning is new. I roll out of bed and spring to life. Shivering with excitement, I snatch my binoculars off the bed stand and reach for the doorknob. A vast environment completely foreign to my eyes lies beyond the door, and I prepare to have my mind blown away. I open the door, and my mind is indeed blown. I overlook a landscape of lush, green jungle, with topography sloping either up or down. A thick tropical haze blankets the surrounding hills, and everything is sopping wet. I am in the Maya Mountains of western Belize, and I have one exciting adventure to come.
Bleary-eyed from severe sleep deprivation, I try focusing on movement in the brush ahead. I see a small yellowish bird with a distinct black tail band. It is a Magnolia Warbler, a migrant that breeds in Canada. Next, I glimpse a reddish-brown bird climbing up a vertical tree trunk. Before I know it, the bird takes flight and disappears deep in the jungle. I recognized the bird as a woodcreeper, but the species will remain unknown. I fear this will be the theme of the day, as my knowledge of Central American birdlife is extremely limited.
Shifting my attention to the valley, I notice a raptor up top a dead tree protruding from the nearby slope. I focus my binoculars and am amazed. It is an Orange-breasted Falcon, the second rarest falcon in the world. It is feasting on its prize, a large bat that is clasped in its talons. The falcon will remain on its perch for another four hours, even through the pouring rain to come.
From the one-roomed guesthouse where I am staying, I set out to explore the property. I meander my way down the steep driveway and take note of all the bird vocalizations I have previously never heard. I have much to learn about these birds, but I am confident I will quickly become acquainted with them.
The following images cover a few of the birds seen the remainder of the morning:
11/03/16, 6:00-8:00 AM, Feucht’s Yard, Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve, District of Cayo, Belize: Rufous-tailed Hummingbird 2, Black-headed Trogon 1, Gartered Trogon 3, Collared Aracari 7, Orange-breasted Falcon 1, Red-lored Parrot 2, Least Flycatcher 1, Great Kiskadee 1, White-eyed Vireo 2, Brown Jay 1, Clay-colored Thrush 2, Gray Catbird 8, Black-and-white Warbler 1, Hooded Warbler 3, American Redstart 2, Magnolia Warbler 13, Wilson’s Warbler 2, Blue-gray Tanager 1, Blue-black Grassquit 1, White-collared Seedeater 5, Yellow-faced Grassquit 1, Summer Tanager 1, Melodious Blackbird 1, and Yellow-throated Euphonia 2.