Trip report: Belize BIRDING with a CAMERA custom tour Mar-Apr 2018 by Tropical Birding

Guided by Andrés Vásquez. This was a custom tour.
Additional photos by Pablo Cervantes Daza.

The very small country of Belize holds an impressive amount of nearly 600 bird species in an area similar to the US state of New Hampshire; or putting it another way, it is 428 times smaller than the whole surface of the United States! This means that it is packed with birds, many migratory ones that Americans are familiar with (namely a multitude of warblers and thrushes), but more importantly there are tons of tropical resident birds that can blow your mind like Crimson-collared Tanager, Yucatan Jay, Red-capped Manakin, Lesson’s and Tody Motmots, the outstanding Ocellated Turkey or the eccentric Great Curassow. Belize is also home to several Central American “target birds” that are restricted to the Yucatan Peninsula like Black Catbird, Orange Oriole, Rose-throated Tanager, Gray-throated Chat, Yucatan Poorwill, and Yucatan Flycatcher.

All of these species mentioned above were seen during our 7-day “Birding With a Camera” (BwC) custom tour that took us to three premier birding spots in Belize: the Rio Bravo Conservation Area, Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary and the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. We were based in three superb lodges La Milpa, Birds Eye View and Mariposa Jungle Lodge. With comfort that can surprise any visitor to the tropical forests, Belize is such a great destination for the visitor that ventures outside his/her home country for the first time. And this is thanks to several small things that just make your life simple in Belize for US citizens in particular: US currency can be used, English is the main language, food is both tasty and safe, there are regular daily flights from the US (Belize is a convenient 2 hours from Houston for example), the roads are good throughout, the distances are all short between birding areas, and the list goes on…

While mammals are few, the ones that we saw were often obliging, and so were also an enjoyable part of this tour. Perhaps the most charismatic of them all were the Black-handed Spider Monkeys we found at La Milpa; they certainly showed us that we were intruding on their territories by showing us some wild branch-shaking antics accompanied by evil stares. We aslo saw there Yucatan Black Howler Monkeys but those were far more patient and passive than their cousins.

FULL BELIZE BIRDING with a CAMERA Mar-Apr 2018 custom tour (PDF format 8.4 MB file)