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WHAT A DAY OF BIRDING AT LA MILPA!

Day 50 – March 4 – La Milpa, Orange Walk District:


(Bert) We are barely into the La Milpa Maya site when we find warblers in the canopy, easily viewed through a gap in the trees. We find Blue-winged, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Black-throated Green, Black-and-white, American Redstart and, best of all, Tennessee Warbler.

 

One of the reasons I arranged our itinerary with La Milpa toward the end of our Belize stay, rather than at the beginning as I usually have done, was to increase our chances of finding White-throated Thrush. Bladimir says the dry season has been late in arriving, rains continue and the leaf fall has barely begun. He has yet to see or hear the thrush. In a part of the Maya site where the understory has been cleared, but the canopy is dense and high above us, Bladimir hears a call he says is the thrush. I have the song, but not this call on my iPod collection. I play the song and a few minutes later we see the White-throated Thrush fly over our heads to the opposite side of the forest opening. Although well hidden, we can focus a scope on the location and I take digi-scope photos and then reposition myself for more shots with my long lens.

 

Gordon and Maxine are keen on seeing a Tody Motmot, although it is not the easiest bird to find in Belize, especially this far north. Bladimir knows two spots where he has found them before and we visit the first and I play my recording. No response. We hike to the second location, one deep within a cohune ridge. This time the recording brings a response and we are quite hopeful when the responding Motmot comes closer to our location. We must almost be in range of seeing the bird, but the underbrush is heavily leaved. We try to coax it closer, yet it resists. The Tody Motmot remains well heard, though not seen.

 

Late in the afternoon I see a bird perched atop a barren tree and recognize an Olive-sided Flycatcher. Is it an early migrant or rare winter visitor? Since last night was disappointing along the main road, Rudy and I decide to try the 3-mile Maya site road which is more densely closed in by forest. Not far from the start is the dump pit where kitchen workers throw fruit and vegetable food scraps. Hoping to find coatis, we find none. But while the truck engine is turned off I hear a distant Vermiculated Screech-Owl and am gratified when Rudy and Edgar concur. Quietly, we listen for several more minutes but it does not call again. Shari has been boasting for two years that she saw the screech-owl and that I had not. Well, I am now half way there in that I’ve at least heard one.

 

Accustomed to seeing only night birds and large roosting birds, we are surprised to find small roosting birds too. Harder to identify from below with only tail, belly and a part of the breast to view in the flashlight, we see Swainson’s Thrush, White-collared Manakin and Slaty-tailed Trogon perched on high branches. If we can have lists of “heard-only” birds, why can’t we have “smelled-only” mammals. If so, we can add Collared Peccary to that list as their scent is powerful in one wooded section along the road. At a widening in the forest we scan 100 yd. across the grassy field and pick up two glowing eyes in the forest edge about 6 ft. from the ground. Too far away to see the bird’s body, we surmise it is a Yucatan Nightjar.

 

(Shari) This part of the trip is my vacation. I am able to sit back and relax and let the staff and Bert take care of schedules, white boards and meals. No road logs to do. Payment has been prepaid. All I have to do is read, cross stitch, play cards and have a beer or two. Meals are delicious as usual. The weather is spectacular. In fact last night we just about froze. No need to use the fans. I love it.

 

THIS COMMENTARY WAS PROVIDED BY BERT FRENZ (http://www.bafrenz.com/birds/) FROM HIS MOST RECENT VISIT TO LA MILPA IN MARCH 2009 – ‘DAY 50’ OF THEIR CENTRAL MEXICO AND BELIZE 2009 CARAVAN TOUR! BERT’S CARAVAN TOUR GROUPS ARE ANNUAL VISITORS TO LA MILPA! GET ON BOARD TODAY AND COME EXPERIENCE THE BEST THE RIO BRAVO OFFERS!

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