Saturday, August 14, 2010

Chan Chich, Belize August 5th, 2010

We had no rain during the night but some loud insect decided to sit somewhere outside our cabana and call most of the night. It wasn't a pleasant call either. But, we still slept decently since we were so tired.

We were up at 5AM and out before 6AM again. We decided to hike the upper plaza and Norman's Temple areas. The foliage is less dense in these areas which brings in more light and makes photography a little easier. The animals sure were up early today because between the birds and monkeys we had a some great jungle sounds during our walk.

Our first good photo op was of a new bird species for us, the Tody Motmot:

We also had an encounter with our one and only ant swarm of the trip. Ant swarms can sometimes attract some great bird species but all this swarm did was cover about a 10 ft span across the trail causing us to find another way back home (All the black dots are ants):

Here's a closeup:
Army Ant Swarm

Finally, here's a look at some of the foliage around the trail:

Besides seeing Spider Monkeys and Crested Guans, we also heard the Great Tinamou for the first time. We love their call.

After Breakfast we decided to try the Bajo trail which intersects with Sylvestor Road. The Bajo trail is also known for cat sightings and is really our only chance to see a tapir although they are rarer than the cats.

Before we got 10 yards from our cabana we had a great encounter with a troop of Spider Monkeys that were anything but camera shy:

Spider Monkey Foraging

Also, in a nearby tree was this pair of Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers:

In that same tree was a Black-cheeked Woodpecker having a snack:

We finally reached the Bajo trail and had a few neat encounters including this Anole (although I am not sure what type it is):

We also found some fresh jaguar tracks that weren't here yesterday.

We ended up only walking about a 1/2 hour on the Bajo trail because the small stream that follows it back into the jungle was running really high and had flooded the trail to the point where it wasn't passable. But, on the way back we saw a Squirrel Cuckoo, lots of woodcreepers, a quick look at some sort of hawk we couldn't identify, and of course lots of toads.

We took the River Trail back to the lodge and it too was flooded. We had to go cross country to get past it. Both the Bajo and River trails are a couple of the best trails for wildlife so it was disappointing that they were so flooded. On our last trip, we encountered crocodiles on the River trail. But, they apparently leave the area during the wet season (as do the peccaries which we had hoped to see).

We did have some more Spider Monkeys on the River trail though:

Chatty Spider Monkey

And our first really good look at a Long-tailed Hermit:

After lunch, we decided to take a drive to look for cats. However, the rain came fast and furious and so we cut the tour short since only deer and turkeys seemed dumb enough to be out in the downpour. Upon returning to our cabana we saw that not all turkeys were that dumb. This group had decided to seek shelter under a large bush near our cabana:

We waiting out the rain a while until it had just about subsided. We decided to take the main road out to the bridge to see what might be out and about. Unfortunately, not much was. Some Mealy Parrots were flying around and we heard Howler Monkeys but that was about it. We arrived at the bridge to see that the water level had risen greatly today. We had walked across the little bridge the day before. That was impossible now:

By the time we left two days later, the water level was at least two feet higher than in this picture. In October 2007, the water level actually flooded the BIG bridge and basically closed the lodge for a few days. They have a picture of it hanging in the dining area. That's a lot of water.

We had an 8PM night drive scheduled tonight, but during dinner the rain just kept coming so we cancelled. However, the night actually wasn't a bust because the rain stopped at about 7:45. Too late for the night drive, but we did get a walk in. During the walk we saw....more toads:
Rainforest Toad

We also found another Mexican Tree Frog:

Other than a quick look at a Cat-eyed Snake (keeping our daily snake sighting intact), and a roosting turkey, not much else was out. So, we decided to hit the sack so we were rested for our last full day tomorrow.

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