17-19 December 2016
For the past eight years, I have participated in a myriad of Christmas Bird Counts in my home state of Colorado. Birding from dawn to dusk, we brave frigid temperatures as we scour rugged terrain for mountain birds and wade through icy waters counting American Dippers. This Christmas season, however, I find myself dripping with sweat in the humid broadleaf forests of Petén, Guatemala.
While I happen to be out of the country this winter, that doesn’t stop me from participating in Christmas Bird Counts. Shortly after departing Belize, I join the Christmas Bird Count at Estación Biológica Las Guacamayas (EBG). Stationed 45 minutes up the Río San Pedro by boat, EBG is an ecotourism lodge and research station surrounded by the vast forests and wetlands of Laguna del Tigre National Park. With a six year count history, the EBG Christmas Bird Count has rapidly grown in popularity within the Guatemala birding community. This year’s count doubles as a book launch for the Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Northern Central America with authors Oliver Komar and Jesse Fagan.
After an evening of socializing and looking for Northern Potoos along the river, we divide into groups to conquer tomorrow’s count day. I join a group poised for a long day of hiking. After a boat ride to our starting point, we begin trekking through the jungle in the early morning darkness. Twelve hours, eighteen kilometers, and 160 species later, my group completes the 2016 Estación Biológica Las Guacamayas Conteo Navideño de Aves. Many incredible birds were seen and it was the perfect introduction to the Guatemala birding community.
For the day’s ebird list, check out http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S33275875