Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chan Chich, Belize August 1st, 2010

After three trips to the rain forest (two to Costa Rica and one to Belize), we couldn't wait to return to the wonderful sights and sounds that the jungle brings. All three previous trips were in the so called "dry" season. So, this time, we decided to try the "wet" season. A little research seemed to show that for a few weeks in July and August there is a mini dry season. So, we took a chance and booked our trip to Chan Chich lodge in Belize for the 1st week of August. We expected more rain, but we also hoped for different wildlife than our previous Chan Chich visit. We got both...

We have certainly become creatures of habit when it comes to this Central American travel. We take the same red-eye Continental flight to Houston (on which we can never sleep), have breakfast at the same diner in the Houston airport (where we are typically almost too tired to eat), arrive in country by mid-morning (in a zombie like trance), take a small plane to our lodge (operating on fumes now...) and arrive for lunch and a welcome drink (Once arriving in paradise the excitement wakes us up immediately). It works great, so why mess with it I say. The only highlight from our inbound travel was seeing Thierry Henry (world famous soccer player) in the Houston airport.

We arrived at Chan Chich, hungry, thirsty and tired. After lunch and a afternoon rain shower, we took off exploring the grounds of Chan Chich. Chan Chich has incredible wildlife from exotic birds, to pre-historic looking lizards, to colorful butterflies. But, we came here again for the opportunity to see one of five wild cats;margay, jaguarundi, ocelot, puma and jaguar.

Unfortunately, the first critters that we encountered on our hike were the mosquitoes and blackflies. While virtually non-existent in the dry season, they were veracious while we were there. The staff said it was the worst they had ever seen it. But, we weren't going to let a few bugs and a little blood loss ruin our trip.

The afternoon exploring turned up many of the expected Chan Chich regulars including the Oscillated Turkey we lovingly refer to as the "prettiest ugly bird we have ever seen):

Our only mammal sighting was a brief glimpse of an agouti. However, birds were plentiful in the afternoon including this Rufous-tailed Hummingbird that "owned" the feeder at our cabana:

After dinner, our excitement levels were still high so we decided to head out for a night hike. Typically, the nights are alive in the rain forest and tonight was pretty good. We ended up seeing tons of toads, geckos, tarantulas, and our first Chan Chich snake which was a Cat-eyed Snake about 18 inches long. It slithered under a storage bin before I could get a good picture.

House Gecko on our screen:

??? Toad:

The absolute highlight of the day was spotting a kinkajou up in a tree during our night walk. Using our flashlights to look for eyeshine we spotted this one hanging out in a tree mid way up the canopy. Here's a quick night vision video that gives a pretty good look at this interesting animal. Since we really hadn't slept in over 36 hours, we decided to hit the sack and end our first day at Chan Chich.

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