Birding Belize 2006
Journal 10 Jan 06
|Up at 6:30 AM and on the road for coffee/tea and "Ding" Darling NWR. Found very good coffee and chai at The Sanibel Bean on Sanibel Island. The drive was not as painful as were led to believe. But we were ahead of the construction crew. Got an Elegant Tern on the bridge rail on the way over.
Pretty good weather with some clouds and extremely scattered shower. Light and intermittent breeze. Pretty warm on some of the walks by Alaska standards but good training for the tropics.
We started out with a drive around the auto loop. The number of birds - both the number of species and the numbers in each species - was pretty amazing. It took us about 3.5 hours to make the loop, and probably two hours to make the first mile. The birds are generally pretty habituated to people. The light wasn't great but the photo opportunities were. A hard core avian photographer could spend months at Ding Darling and never be bored.
After the first loop we visited the refuge visitor center. Very nice, first rate interactive audio-visual displays. The building seems to be about 6-7 years old. Afterwards, we walked a bit of the Indigo Trail; at the hottest time of the day it wasn't very productive. We drove the Loop again, walked the Powerline Trail and then headed to Lighthouse Point.
The point is basically a public beach with a small stand of hurricane-damaged woods. But despite the small size and crowds, the thicket produced a Red-bellied Woodpecker, an Eastern Phoebe and the Pileated Woodpeckers that the guidebook promised.
Next we headed to Bunche Beach on the mainland. In the late afternoon sunlight we watched gulls, terns, shorebirds and the tide. The birds let us get very close, with some nice photos. Very nice.
Finally, we dashed over to Lakes Park, arriving too late, really, to do any useful birding. We did find an Orange-crowned Warbler and out first American Coots. There's a nice heronry on an island in the lake - or at least one of the lakes - and it was fun to watch egrets, spoonbills, ibises and wood storks fly overhead in the failing light.
Dinner at an Italian restaurant near the Holiday Inn. Okay, but not great. But a pretty terrific birding day, with very few mystery birds and some decent photos. And no sunburn.
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