Monday, August 16, 2010

Chan Chich, Belize August 3rd, 2010

It's a good thing that we had a full day yesterday because today was a near bust. It rained all night long but seemed to stop around dawn so we got up and went exploring by 6AM. Boy, there sure was a lot of mud. Good thing we borrowed some rubber boots that the lodge had. They didn't fit either of us particularly well, but for a few hours at a time they sure kept our feet dry.

We hiked the trails around the back plaza and upper plaza but not much was out. We did see more Fiery-billed Aracari and heard some Spider Monkeys. So, since the wildlife wasn't out I took some pictures of the local flora instead:

I did get one bird picture but we haven't positively identified this one yet:

We had signed up for a trip to Laguna Seca after breakfast so we didn't have much pre-breakfast time. Laguna Seca is a medium sized lake nearby that tends to have some water fowl that isn't seen around the lodge. Plus, it would give us a chance to get out on the roads again to look for cats.

After breakfast we headed out with Marvin (one of the guides). About 15 minutes into the drive the heavens opened up and let loose. It only took about 5 minutes for the road to be covered with water. About a half hour later when we arrived at Laguna Seca it was barely raining. So, we got our gear and headed out with Marvin. However, about 10 minutes into our walk the rain came again. We waited for about 20 minutes under some palm trees but it didn't let up. We decided to head back to the car to wait it out. So, we waited....and waited. After another half hour, we gave up and Marvin started the car to head back home. At this point, I should probably share that we were parked at an incline in a grassy area. We would need to head up and over the incline to get to the main road. Unfortunately, the rain had turned the whole area into mud and our little two wheel drive truck just sat and spun. Eventually, Marvin and I got out to push as Karen manned the wheel. She did a great job considering she hadn't driven stick in 25 years. We actually got about 20 yards before the hill was just too angled to go any further. We were stuck. Marvin radioed the lodge and about 20 minutes later the Manager came with the big truck and pulled us out.

With Laguna Seca a bust, Marvin drove us around the area for a while looking for anything that we could see. It was during this drive that we got our only good looks at the beautiful Keel-billed Toucans:

We also got more looks at the many rafters of turkeys (Yes, I had to look up what a group of turkeys was called). Most of these groups had polts with them. This group had polts of different ages and you can see that some don't even have their blue heads yet:

I would probably consider the whole outing a huge bust if it weren't for what we saw next. As we were driving down the road to the lodge a beautiful green snake was in the road. We have always wanted to see one of the bright green snakes that call the rain forest home and here was our first chance. This particular snake was a six foot long Green Tree Snake and it was stunning:

That one sighting made the day.

We arrived back at the lodge to more rain. In fact, it pretty much rained the rest of the day. Not wanting to get stuck inside, we decided to rent the golf cart that Chan Chich has. It is covered and we could get out on the main road to look for critters and stay relatively dry. This worked out nicely since we were able to go slow enough to see any wildlife around yet fast enough to stay a few feet ahead of the bugs chasing us. No, the rain didn't deter the mosquitoes.

We stopped at the suspension bridge to see if we could find the Becards that had built a nest but they were no where to be found. So, I took a picture of the nest:

Besides seeing some sort of rat hop across the road, our golf cart outing was pretty uneventful. We did have a good photo op of this Gulf Coast Toad and I can now say that I have driven a golf cart in a foreign country:

After dinner, the rain had stopped so we went out for another night walk. The heavy rains during the day did bring out a lot of interesting critters:

Mexican Tree Frog:

Mexican Salamander:

Praying Mantis:

Large Gulf Coast Toad:

Cat-eyed Snake:

Red-eyed Tree Frog:

And, this huge colorful moth that had to be 5 or 6 inches from wing tip to wing tip:

Between the fantastic look at the Green Tree Snake and the many critters we saw on our night walk, we still considered it a good day despite the weather. Hopefully, the rest of the week won't be this wet though.

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