Birding Belize 2006
Journal 24 Jan 06
|We had very heavy rains all night and woke to moderate rain and fairly thick fog. We got word at breakfast that Tropic Air might not make it in. We went to Plan B: we'd drive to the airport and if Tropic Air reported it was a bust then we'd head to Belize International Airport by road. Before we even got down the road to the Gallon Jug strip Tropic Air had called to scratch. So we were on a road trip.
The rain had damaged the roads. Our route took us past the turn for Laguna Seca, and the road was in far worse shape than even the day before. After a surprisingly long drive, we reached the gate that is the edge of the Rio Bravo Conservation Area. Less than half a mile past the gate, you could see why the gate was necessary. Throughout what I guess was the Mennonite District, there was slash and burn for extended areas on the northerly side of the road, extending well up into the hills. We had a short break in the village of Tres Leguas, and then motored over worse road to Orange Walk. There we connected to the Northern Highway, quite good road. After a stop at New River, with pretty good birding, we headed down the Northern Highway to Ladyville and the junction for the airport.
From about Biscayne south, roughly beginning at the Belize River, there was flooding everywhere. I saw schools and houses with two to three feet of water in the yards. It is very sad to see clean laundry draped in muddy flood water. It's hard to imagine what it must be like here in a real rainy season.
At the airport, Ron, Mary and Wendy met a van for their ride to Hidden Valley. We said a hasty goodbye to them, and to Jeff and Dave, and headed to American Airlines for the flight to Miami.
Customs went smoothly, but the shuttle to the Sheraton was 45 minutes, and included a drive-by refusal to stop and a world-class surly driver. The already occupied room to which we were assigned was just icing on the cake. And the desk clerk didn't even apologize. The contrast to Chan Chich couldn't be stronger. Strike the Sheraton from your preferred hotel list.
Despite bug bites, illness, the rainiest weather ever and sometimes surly support, this was a very good birding trip. About 193 species in Belize, and over 240 if you count Florida. And I'd love to do Cockscomb and Laguna Seca in good weather...
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