Friday, August 13, 2010

Chan Chich, Belize August 6th, 2010

With no insect to drone on during the night, we slept better and awakened refreshed and ready to take on our last full day.

Just because I haven't mentioned the bugs in the last few reports, doesn't mean they weren't around. After having over 100 bites each after only two days, we were both a lot more diligent about spraying ourselves with 20% deet every hour or so and that really helped. In addition, I switched to using 100% deet on my arms and hands and that pretty much kept the bugs off everywhere but my neck and face.

Our pre-breakfast walk was once again to the Upper Plaza and Temple Loop. During this hike we had some nice encounters with butterflies:
Banded Owl Butterfly

I also finally encountered a Crested Guan in good light:

Here's a shot of some flora beside the trail:

And finally, a White-collared Seedeater that stayed still long enough for a picture:

We didn't have to journey far after breakfast to have some fantastic encounters. The following series of pictures were all taken within 20 yards of our cabana:

Praying Mantis:
Praying Mantis


Black Howler Monkeys:

Spider Monkeys:

This one didn't like it's lunch:

After those nice experiences, we headed off to tackle the Bajo trail again but this time from the other end of the loop. Maybe that end wouldn't be flooded...Wrong!

That was the scene only about 1/2 mile down the trail. We actually made it past that park of the trail but only encountered ever growing ponds instead of the trail, so we turned back. However, right before we turned back, a Gray Fox darted across the trail about 50 yards ahead of us. It moved so fast I only have a few blurry pictures of its flank and tail.

I did get a decent shot of this Pale-billed Woodpecker:

Just as we were coming back to the beginning of the Bajo trail, this snake shot across the watery trail and into the under growth. We weren't able to identify it until we got home, but I am pretty sure it is a Black-striped Snake:

Since our Bajo hike was cut short, we headed down Sylvestor Road instead. This turned out to be a great decision. Not long after we headed down the road, I spotted a snake in the road. It was so well camouflaged that we got within about 5 yards of it before I noticed it and it was moving rather quickly. When I did see it, I immediately stopped because my heart was pounding. This could possibly be a Fer-De-Lance which is one of the most venomous snakes in Central America. I was only able to get a few shots off before it was gone. Notice the almost cobra like "hood":

False Fer-De-Lance

Not 5 minutes later, I stopped again. There was another snake in the road and I knew what this one was. It was a beautiful Coral Snake. I mentally played the rhyme in my head to be sure "Red on Yellow...kill a fellow". You see, the Coral Snake is 5 times more venomous than the Fer-De-Lance. But, because it has such a small mouth it doesn't really bite people very often. So, I wasn't worried for our safety, I was more trying to get a darn picture before the little guy disappeared:

WOW!, we just might have seen our first two venomous snakes ever. And, we saw them back to back! That was very nice. Too bad both were just crossing the road and disappeared really quickly.

A little farther down the road, we had a good look at a White-whiskered Puffbird with a grasshopper:
White-whiskered Puffbird with Lunch

As I was taking pictures of the Puffbird, Karen yanked on my arm and exclaimed that something was crossing the road ahead. By the time I looked, I just saw some reddish brown or orange disappear into the jungle. The possibilities raced through our heads..Puma?...deer?!? Karen got a much better look than I did. After talking about it we decided that due to the fact that we didn't see any spots and it's reddish color, we probably just saw our first Red Brocket Deer. Too bad we didn't get a better look. We continued down the road to where the animal crossed and waited patiently (while swatting bugs) for some movement or another animal. But, nothing happened.

We continued down the road for a while but turned back after seeing little. As we approached the areas where we saw the snakes earlier we scanned even more closely, but saw nothing. However, about 40 yards further down, we spotted the Fer-De-Lance again. This time it was crossing the road the other way! What are the odds of us seeing it twice crossing the road like this?

False Fer-De-Lance

Back at the lodge, I had Hilberto identify the snake I thought might be a Fer-De-Lance. As it turned out, it was a False Fer-De-Lance which is basically harmless. So, we only ended up seeing one venomous snake, but the whole experience was very exciting none the less.

After lunch, I tried to get some good "running" pictures of the Striped Basilisk that are everywhere at Chan Chich. These lizards have the nickname of "the Jesus Christ Lizard" because they run really fast across the water. They also run like this on land and it was tough getting a shot of it:

Our after lunch walk didn't turn up much except for this huge Longhorned Beetle on the main road:

After dinner, we had a few minutes before our night drive, so I ventured out to see what I could find. I did find yet another large beetle and an even bigger cockroach:

A great, but quick, encounter with a Yucatan Banded Gecko:

And of course, a HUGE Marine Toad. This one was about the size of those small round watermelons you see in the stores these days:

After such a clear and rain free day, we hoped to have an action packed last night drive. But, things don't always turn out as you hope. Mother Nature decided that we needed more rain and she let loose for just about the entire drive. So, without a spotter outside we didn't see anything except a couple of barn owls and a rat that hopped across the road. We did have some good conversation with the guides. I explained to them what it was like to work in a cubicle and commute in traffic. They weren't very envious.

Regardless of the disappointing night drive, the day was fantastic! Too bad it was our last full day.

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