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Chan Chich Lodge
Lamanai Outpost Lodge

05 - 12 February 2008 

by Genie Silver

From February 5-12, My husband and I were birding in Belize, for 3 nights at the Lamanai Outpost Lodge and then 4 nights at Chan Chich Lodge.  We saw 110 species in all, 76 at Lamanai and 67 at Chan Chich, and 33 we saw at both lodges. The guide book we used was Birds of Belize by H. Lee Jones and illustrated by Dana Gardner.  (I ordered the book from The Audubon Shop in CT where they will split the plates from the book and bind them for you so you don't have to carry the whole book in the field which is helpful.  Their number is 1-800-505-9056). Caligo Ventures arranged the trip for us.

Both lodges were very nice, CC was more upscale and larger and had more trails.  But Lamanai was intimate and it is located on a large lagoon on the New River so it was good to be near the water and have the opportunity to see water as well as land birds. Lamanai takes its name from the nearby Mayan ruins where we also birded and you can go on a tour of the ruins with a guide from the lodge.   The highlight of the time at Lamanai was the spotlight safari when we took a small boat at night down the river into all kinds of inlets to see the beautiful Agami Heron, Ringed Kingfisher, sleeping Green Kingfisher and tiny American  Pygmy Kingfisher as well as herons, bats and the Northern Potoo and the Yucatan Nightjar (smallest of the nightjars).  The spotlight didn't cause them to move at all.  We flushed a few huge crocs and saw their eerie shadows under the water as they swam away.

We were picked up at the Belize airport and drove 45 minutes to Orange Walk where we picked up the boat for the 28 mile trip south on the New River.  As well as 7'-8' crocodiles (which mostly eat apple snails, as do the Limpkins and Snail Kites we saw later) there was an abundance of birdlife on the water.   In 1995, the Belize government, the U.S Audubon Society and the World Wildlife Fund worked out an agreement that 66' on either side along all waterways in Belize would be a preserve for birds and mammals. Some of the birds we saw were Green Heron, Great Blue Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, Black-necked Stilts, Ringed and Belted Kingfishers, Tropical Kingbird, Anhinga, Neotropic Cormorant, Great Egret. The Mangrove Swallows were everywhere gleaning the water for bugs and doing arial displays.  The highlight of the trip was seeing a very large Jabiru (stork) on its nest.

The first nigtht, the Howler Monkeys were very actively calling, the same the next morning when we met our guide Mauricio at the main house.  (Both Lamanai and Chan Chich have cottages for the guests.  The ones at CC are much larger and well-decorated, with a huge bathroom but the ones at Lamanai are comfortable even if there was barely enough light to read, or see yourself in the mirror!) 

We started out just as light was breaking. We went ot the lodge's parking lot first and then the little village of Indian Church,  both had a lot of  flowering red bushes and trees, where we saw the Plain Chachalaca, the Grey-necked Wood-Rail, the Melodius Blackbird, an immature Summer Tanager with some red on his forehead (later at CC we saw the adult male), the Olive-throated Parakeet,  the White-bellied Emerald hummer, rhe Rufous-Tailed hummer, the Stripe-Tailed hummer and the Ruby-throated hummingbird.  We saw many birds which I will list later but the highlights of the morning were the Chestnut-colored Woodpecker, Black-cowled Oriole. The Social Flycatcher we saw many times on the trip but it is a very pretty small bird with a yellow breast with a head that is dark gray and white. Three more of the our summer birds were around, the Ovenbird, Magnolia Warbler and Blue-gray Tanager.

My husband took the Nature Walk in the afternoon and was very excited to see a Royal Flycatcher as well as Keel-billed Toucans and the Ivory-billed Woodcreeper.  The next afternoon I joined Michael and our guide. Mr. Star, and we took the same route, leaving from our cottage, number 13 and walking along the jungle trail to an airtsrip and then circling back through Indian Church Village.  We saw three woodcreepers, The Ivory-billed again, the Strong-billed and the Olivaceous. (At Chan Chich we had great views of the Strong-billed Woodcreeper.)  But we unknowingly stepped thorugh some Marching Ants and all of a sudden felt all these stings up our pants -- took a few minutes to shake them off but they left no lasting bites. Mr.Star explained that the ants stirred up the insects allowing the birds to catch them better.  (Michael, at some point, got horribly bitten by chiggers.  He used bug spray but that didn't keep them away.) But to get back to the walk through the jungle we saw a Barred Antshrike and a Red-throated Ant-Tanager in the jungle and at the airstrip, a Roadside Hawk, as well as a Socal Flycatcher and Tropical Kingbird.

Early on the 7th, we went with Mauricio to the Mayan Ruins. We took a quick boat ride to the ruins and by the dock, we got great looks at the Snail Kite with a snail in its bill an a Limpkin also eating a snail. Once we got near the Jaguar Temple, we saw lots of birds in the trees, including the Great Kiskadee, the Red-lored Parrot, the Keel-billed Toucan, the Lineated Woodpecker, the Ladder-backed Woodpecker, the Collared Aracari, the Black-headed Trogon and the Montezuma Oropendolas, with their striking yellow tail and red-orange bill.  Chan Chich has hundreds of Montezuma Oropendolas and they are large birds, so that when they are flying overhead, you can hear the heavy flapping of their wings.

It started pouring and we took cover but after the rain let up, the birds came out again and we saw the Masked Tityra, the Yellow-throated Euphonia (although common, it is a very pretty little bird with a blue-black back and yellow forehead and underparts). We also got a good look at a Hooded Warbler. Down by the water we saw a Bare-headed Tiger-Heron,  a White-tipped Dove, a Mangrove Vireo and a Little Blue Heron.

On the 8th we drove in the afternoon to Chan Chich.  That night we took a night drive but didn't see much, for birds only the Northern Potoo and the Roadside Hawk.  The next morning we were up early.  Our cottage was close to the huge Bully Hop tree where hundreds of Oropendolas were nesting. There nests are basket shaped and about 3' long.  The baskets were hanging from every branch.  We spotted a Giant Cowbird who acts like our cowbirds in the states -- try to steal the Oropendolas' eggs and replace them with their own.

Our main guide at CC was Gilberto who is 67 and has worked as a guide at CC for 20 years -- he was quite a character and knew where to find which birds. I really wanted to see the little and adorable Red-capped Manakin which was one of the first and last birds we saw during our stay.  In fact, the last day, when we were having lunch, one flew into a bush right next to our outdoor table and was eating little black berries off the bush -- we were only feet away. The bird has a black body, a bright red cap and yellow legs. The other Manakin we saw on the grounds was the White-collared Manakin, which is yellow, black and white and also very pretty and petite.

The grounds of CC are filled with Ocellated Turkeys which have a purple-blue unfeathered head with orange warts.  The body is all colors, green, blue, purple, orange, white, yellow, a full rainbow, and when the male opens his tail it is magnificent..

The first morning out at CC we walked down the service road and saw Chesnut-sided Warblers, Yellow-throated Warblers and Black-and-white Warblers.  We also saw the Short-billed pigeon, Squirrel Cuckoo, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Mealy and Red-lored Parrots (among other birds to be listed).  In the afternoon, Gilberto took us on the Logger's Trail but the only bird we saw until we got to the river was a White-throated Robin. Coming out of the trial, you take a left and folow the river to the suspension bridge, about a quarter of a mile from the entrance to the lodge. There you can see a lot of birds.  We got a beautiful look at an adult summer Tanager, a Cinnamon Becard,  Green Flycatcher, Baltimore Oriole, King Vultures soaring, and Yellow-winged Tanager.  On our way back to the lodge a whole troop of Spider monkeys were swimging in the trees and a juvenile was acting as if he was on a jungle gym (perhaps where the name comes from!).

The next morning, Michael slept in but I went out with another guide, Marvin.  We walked the main road down to the bridge and had great looks at Red-lored Parrots, Scaly-breasted Hummingbird, Bat Falcon, Black-headed Trogons, a Red-billed Pigeon and a Pale-billed Woodpecker.

The afternoon of the 10th we went out with Gilberto to the Upper Plaza and had a great view of a male and female Slaty-Tailed Trogon, as well as a very strange bird called a Crested Guan; large, black with a red wattle. A Pale-billed Woodpecker was also well in our sight and we could see it pecking on the wood.  We saw more Keel-billed Toucans, a Sulpher-rumped Flycatcher and a Clay-colored Robin.

It poured overnight which brought out over a dozen Slaty-tailed Trogons --  they seemd to be everywhere on the main road leading to the bridge.  We also saw a Louisiana Waterthrush, more Bat Falcons, Chesnut-colored Woodpeckers, Yellow-winged Tanagers and a cute Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher.  A Green Heron was perched on a branch above the water near the bridge. We also saw the Red-billed Pigeon again.

The last walk we took was in the afternoon on the 11th and we went first on the Sac Be trail to the river.  On the trail,  we got great views of a Red-crowned Ant-Tanager and Red-throated Ant-Tanager.   We could clearly see the different colorations of red on the birds. By the river, we saw our old friend the Green Kingfisher, a Northern Waterthrush, a Hooded Warbler, a Magnolia Warbler, and another Black-and-white Warbler.  The last bird of the walk was a Blue-black Grosbeak.

One note, unlike Canopy Towers in Panama and Hotel Savegre in Costa Rica, there were no hummingbird feeders at the main lodge.  The last day we were there -- just before we were leaving, I saw a woman carrying feeders and I asked where she was taking them "To the Villa" she said, which is one of the lodgings.  She asked me if I wanted one.  It was too late for that! But if you go to Chan Chich, know to ask them to put one up at your cottage.


In listing the birds we saw while in Belize I'm using the order of the H. Lee Jones plates. 


NR = New River
LG = Lamanai Grounds (including the parking lot and Indian Church Village)
LMR = Lamanai Mayan Ruins (including boat dock)
LNW = Lamanai Nature Walk
LSS = Lamanai Spotlight Safari
CCG = Chan Chich grounds (including the service area, suspension bridge, river, and main road, Sac Be and Logger's Trails)
CCND = Chan Chich Night Drive

Common Name                          Scientific Name + locality observed

Anhinga                              Anhinga anhinga  NR
Neotropic Cormorant                  Phalancrocorax brasilianus NR
Green Heron                          Butorides virescens NR, LSS, CCG
Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron           Nyctanassa violacea  NR
Agami Heron                          Agamia agami  LSS
Bare-Throated Tiger-Heron            Tigrisoma mexicanum  LMR
Great Blue Heron                     Ardea herodias  NR
Limpkin                              Aramus guarauna NR, LSS, LMR
Jabiru                               Jabiru mycteria NR
Great Egret                          Ardea alba  NR
Little Blue Heron                    Egretta caerulea LMR, LSS
Cattle Egrets                        Bubulcus ibis  LG
Black-Bellied Whistling Duck         Dendrocygna autumnalis  LG
Turkey Vulture                       Cathartes aura  NR
Black Vulture                        Coragyps atratus NR
King Vulture                         Sarcoramphus papa CCG
Roadside Hawk                        Buteo magnirostris LNW, LMR,CCG
Bat Falcon                           Falco rufigularis CCG
Snail Kite                           Rostrhamus sociabilis  NR, LMR
Plain Chachalaca                     Ortalis vetula  LG
Crested Guan                         Penelope purpurascens CCG
Ocellated Turkey                     Meleagris ocellata CCG
Gray-Necked Wood-Rail                Aramides cajanea  LG, LSS
Pied-Billed Grebe                    Podilymbus podiceps LMR
Black-Necked Stilt                   Himantopus mexicanus NR
Red-Billed Pigeon                    Columba flavirostris LMR, CCG
Short-Billed Pigeon                  Columba nigrirostris CCG
Ruddy Ground-Dove                    Columbina talpacoti  CCG
White-Tipped Dove                    Leptotila verreauxi LMR
Olive-Throated Parrot                Aratinga nana   LG, CCG
Brown-Hooded Parrot                  Pionopsitta haematotis LG
White-Crowned Parrot                 Pionus senilis LMR, CCG
White-Fronted Parrot                 Amazona albifrons LG
Red-Lored Parrot                     Amazona autumnalis , LG, CCG
Mealy Parrot                         Amazona farinosa CCG
Squirrel Cuckoo                      Piaya cayana  CCG
Northern Potoo                       Nyctibius jamaicensis LSS, CCND
Yucatan Nightjar                     Caprimulgus badius LSS
Long-Billed Hermit                   Phaethornis longirostris  CCG
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird            Archilochus colubris  LG
Stripe-Tailed Hummingbird            Eupherusa eximia  LG
White-Bellied Emerald                Amazilia candida  LG
Rufous-Tailed Hummingbird            Amazilia tzacatl   LG, CCG
Scaly-Breasted Hummingbird           Phaeochroa cuvierii   CCG
Black-Headed Trogon                  Trogon melanocephalus LMR,CCG
Slaty-Tailed Trogon                  Trogon massena CCG
Rufous-Tailed Jacamar                Galbula ruficauda CCG
Collared Aracari                     Pteroglossus torquantus  LMR, CCG
Keel-Billed Toucan                   Ramphastos sulfuratus LNW, CCG
Belted Kingfisher                    Ceryle alcyon NR, LMR
Ringed Kingfisher                    Ceryle torquata NR, LMR
Green Kingfisher                     Chloroceryle americana  CCG
American Pygmy Kingfisher            Chloroceryle aenea   LSS
Golden-Fronted Woodpecker            Melanerpes aurifrons  LMR
Ladder-Backed Woodpecker             Picoides scalaris   LMR
Pale-Billed Woodpecker               Campephilus guatemalensis LMR, CCG
Lineated Woodpecker                  Dryocoptus lineatus LMR
Chesnut-Colored Woodpecker           Celeus castaneus  LG, LMR
Olivaceous Woodcreeper               Sittasommus griseicapillus LNW
Streak-Headed Woodcreeper            Lepidocolaptes souleyeii LNW
Ivory-Billed Woodcreeper             Xiphorhynchus flavigaster LNW
Strong-Billed Woodcreeper            Xiphocolaptes promeropirhynchus  LNW, CCG
Barred Antshrike                     Thamnophilus doliatus  LN
Dot-Winged Antwren                   Microhopias quixensis CCG
Ruddy-Tailed Flycatcher              Terenotriccus erythurus CCG
Sulphur-Rumped Flycatcher            Myiobius sulphureipygius CCG
Ochre-Bellied Flycatcher             Mionectes oleagineus CCG
Royal Flycatcher                     Onychorhynchus coronatus  LNW
Brown-Crested Flycatcher             Myiarchus tyrannulus CCG
Tropical Kingbird                    Tyrannus melancholicus  NR, LNW, CCG
Social Flycatcher                    Myiozetetes similis  LG, LNW, CCG
Great Kiskadee                       Pitangus sulphuratus  LMR
White-Collared Manakin               Manacus candei  CCG
Red-capped Manakin                   Pipra mentalis  CCG
Cinnamon Becard                      Pachyramphus cinnamomeus  CCG
Masked Tityra                        Tityra semifasciata  LMR, CCG
Mangrove Vireo                       Vireo pallens LMR
Brown Jay                            Cyanocorax morio  LG, CCG
Gray Catbird                         Dumetella carolinensis  LG, CCG
Mangrove Swallow                     Tachycineta bicolor NR
House Wren                           Troglodytes aedon  CCG (at our cottage)
White-Throated Robin                 Turdus assimilis CCG
Clay-Colored Robin                   Turdus grayi CCG
Chesnut-Sided Warbler                Dendroica pensylvanica  CCG
Yellow-Throated Warbler              Dendroica dominica CCG
Black-Throated Green Warbler         Dendroica virens  CCG
Magnolia Warbler                     Dendroica magnolia LG, CCG
Hooded Warbler                       Wilsonia citrina LMR, CCG
Black-and-White Warbler              Mniotilta varia, LG, LNW, CCG
Ovenbird                             Seiurus aurocapilla  LG
Northern Waterthrush                 Seiurus noveboratcensis  CCG
Louisiana Waterthrush                Seiurus motacilla CCG
Yellow-Breasted Chat                 Icteria virens CCG (in a bush close by the verandah)
Blue-Gray Tanager                    Thraupis episcopus  LG
Yellow-Winged Tanager                Thraupis abbas CCG
Red-Crowned Ant Tanager              Habia rubica  CCG
Red-Throated Ant-Tanager             Habia fuscicauda LNW, CCG
Summer Tanager                       Piranga rubra LG, CCG
Yellow-Throated Euphonia             Euphonia hirundinacea  LMR, CCG
White-Collared Seedeater             Sporophilia Torqueola   LG
Black-Headed Saltator                Saltator atriceps  LG
Blue-Black Grosbeak                  Cyanocompsa cyanoides CCG
Blue Grosbeak (female)               Passerina caerulea  LG
Red-Winged Blackbird                 Agelaius phoeniceus  NR
Montezuma Oropendola                 Psarocolius montezuma  CCG
Great-Tailed Grackle                 Quiscalus mexicanus  LG, CCG
Melodius Blackbird                   Dives dives LG, CCG
Giant Cowbird                        Molothrus oryzivorus   CCG
Black-Cowled Oriole                  Icterus prosthemelas  LG

Genie Silver
Wynnewood, PA 19096

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