Thursday, August 12, 2010

Chan Chich, Belize August 7th, 2010

A rather noisy and feisty Paraque woke us up multiple times during the night but I was finally able to chase it away. I guess the sight of a tall object with a bright light flailing about in bare feet coming for you was too much for the bird.

We woke up in our fabulous cabana for the last time and it was raining. Sigh....

It's hard not to be sad on the last day and the thought of having it rain made it worse. We weren't leaving until after lunch so hopefully the rain would let up and we would be able to get out. Rumor had it a big storm was coming in today.

The rain put a stop to any pre-breakfast hiking. So, we didn't head out until after breakfast. Before we left, we did see what we thought was a hummingbird. But, upon closer inspection, it turned out to be a moth. My research since coming homes points to this possibly being an aptly named Hummingbird Moth:

It was still raining when we set out, but I traded carrying the tripod for an umbrella and stayed relatively dry. The rain didn't seem to bother the basilisks:

Or the White-collared Manakins:

Throughout the week, we saw lots of woodcreepers, but these birds do anything be creep. They are constantly moving and it was virtually impossible for me to get any good pictures. Finally, on the last day I got one decent shot of an Ivory-billed Woodcreeper:

One of the guides (Hilberto) had uncovered a large Boa the day before while raking a trail. He explained to me where it was so I headed off to look for it. As it so happens, Hilberto also went looking for the boa again. We met at the spot. As we searched I couldn't help but feel like an early explorer. We went off trail and Hilberto took the lead hacking down jungle foliage in our way with a machette while I followed behind. We never did find the boa, but we had fun trying.

Well, the time had come for us to leave. The only remaining chance to see some wildlife would be on the drive out to the airstrip. On 2 of our 3 previous rain forest trips, we had incredible "last drives" when leaving the lodge. We sure hoped that history would repeat itself. And it did...about halfway into the drive we rounded a bend and the driver pointed and said "Red Brocket Deer!". Sure enough, we had about a 5 second look at the deer before it took off. I got one shot off of this pretty rare sighting:

Red Brocket Deer

As soon as the deer disappeared, our attention turned back to the road where there were two Gray Foxes!

They stayed in view for a minute or two but were pretty far away. That's the best shot I could take through the windshield of a shaking vehicle. But, that didn't matter, we had a great last drive with the deer and fox sightings.

It was a great way for the rain forest to say goodbye to us.

All in all, the trip was very good. It is now about 10 days since we have been back and almost all my bug bites are gone. Besides that, the weather could have been better. But, if it hadn't rained so much we probably wouldn't have seen so many incredible snakes and amphibians.

I still need to do the final tally but preliminarily we saw:

- Close to 100 species of birds including many new ones
- 12 snakes (8 different species. All but one was new to us
- Over a dozen different lizard and amphibian species
- 7 species of mammals with great monkey encounters and of course the Red Brocket Deer and Gray Fox sightings topping the list

The only thing not on the list is a jaguar. So, it looks like we still have unfinished business at Chan Chich. That just about guarantees a return visit someday.

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