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BELIZE  --  Northern Belize

14-23 June 2008

by Mark & Sandra Dennis


Belize has been an ambition birding destination for sometime and, although a winter visit would have been preferable, June it was. We arranged to have five nights at both Chan Chich and Crooked Tree and kept our fingers crossed that we would not have a repeat of a previous June visit to the tropics, which featured rain quite heavily. The trip was to be a birding vacation but we also wanted to see some Mayan ruins, most of which are conveniently situated in forests.


As we are resident in Montreal all details relate to there, any prices mentioned are in US dollars mainly because most people are used to that currency but also because it makes the Americans feel more important and less embarrassed about the Canadian Dollar having parity. The US dollar is widely used in Belize, the Belizean dollar usually received as change, the rate being 2 $Bz:1 $US

We flew Continental Airlines out via Cleveland Ohio and Houston Texas. The trip was very smooth, no messing about unnecessarily and everything was to schedule. Returning we were with American Airlines, they cancelled our flight from Belize to Miami forcing a 2.5 hour wait then lost the luggage in Miami, returning it to us the day after we got home. At no time did we get a “we apologize” announcement at Belize Airport regarding the cancelled flight but they did contact us via email and We greatly enjoyed reading that email when we got home. To be fair they did find the luggage although it probably stuck out a bit, being, as it was, with the other 20 or so other passenger’s belongings who had patiently joined us at the Montreal AA office at midnight to make a baggage claim.

At Miami Airport, trying to make our connection, we had the slowest ever customs guy and possibly three of the stupidest groups of travellers in front of us in the queue. Our increasing discomfort at the possibility of missing the connection was ameliorated by a very helpful security guy who moved us from our queue and a young customs lady who zipped us through effortlessly in about two minutes, she should be in charge of retraining.

A word on We have always used them for booking our trips but, when Continental changed our itinerary slightly, they bailed and left Continental to manage the whole booking. Their help desk wasn’t and I would not like to be stuck somewhere relying on them to sort out a problem, no mater how frequently they assure me how important our business is to them while waiting for a busy operative. We will fly Continental again in future, they were quite impressive and we will book directly.

In Belize the neat little airport was friendly, efficient and clean.

Car Hire

We used Hertz who were competitive. We had a four-wheel drive Kia Similar or some such model which coped well with the eclectic Belizean roads but a smaller 4-WD would have been ok. It was roomy and comfortable and reasonable on diesel, good air con but very annoying seat belt and key in ignition alarms. We have used Hertz in the past and the guy in Belize was probably the best we have ever had, even to the point of giving us advice about where to see a nesting Jabiru en-route. A welcome change from the Heathrow crew who always seem to be chewing lemons. Getting fuel was pretty easy but was not cheap and stations few and far between. A typical fill up cost $50.00.

For most Belizean roads cruise control is not needed but an altimeter might be a good idea and very useful in measuring the height of the flying car as it passes over unsigned speed bumps (or even signed ones for that matter).

The map we used was the standard Internationally available one and largely wrong, although an almost complete absence of road signage away from the main highway prevents me from proving it. An example of this would be travelling to Lamanai to see the Mayan site. The sign off the highway is quite grand, assuring you that it is only twenty something miles away. From then on you are on your own until two miles from the site, when, on a perfectly straight, 5km long track, a proud and upright sign announces that you got lucky, oh how we laughed. Overall though the driving was easy, the Belizeans are good, sensible drivers who use their indicators and are judicious in their overtaking decisions.

Apart from the Northern Highway, which is basically a two way country road, all other roads were rough to very rough, many very potholed and, in the Mennonite areas (I thought Mennonite was a form of coal, apparently not) rather buggy rutted. One final thing, everybody speaks English so asking directions is no problem.


It was hot, very hot, very humid. A couple of weeks prior to our arrival, the lake at Crooked Tree was nearly dry. Three days of rain and the locals were amazed by the swift rise in water and many moved their possessions upstairs (where they had one). For our stay we had a shower at Chan Chich and two at Crooked Tree, all during the night.



Mosquitoes were a problem at Chan Chich, also a Sand fly did Sandra, making her leg look like it had been machine gunned, on the bright side at least she kept them occupied while I birded. Crooked Tree was OK but Lamanai was very buggy and Shipstern buggier still. In open areas there were no problems at all.


No problems, we took Chloroquin to deter malaria, used 30% deet which was partially effective until you sweated it off. We drank bottled water and shied away from raw fish and the like. At Shipstern I managed to push a sharp stump through my shoe and into my foot: it’s not gone green yet.


No problems at all, nothing disappeared, we never felt threatened by anyone, even when brandishing expensive optics in front of less wealthy people at Crooked Tree, they didn’t even stop their cell phone conversations to look at us sometimes. It seems amazing to me that, virtually everywhere, people who seem so poor they have to crap in the rivers have cell phones, “honey I’m on my haunches” each to their own.


At Chan Chich we took 2.5 hours guiding (at a price) with Gilberto, which was very enjoyable. We wanted Tody Motmot and eventually got one. Unfortunately he had filled his ear with water during his ablutions the evening before, which comically gave him no homing abilities and so when he pointed out something calling it was invariably 180 degrees from where he was facing.

At Crooked Tree we did a boat trip, $25.00 per person on a boat of six. We were guided by Leonard who we thought was very good, he knew the calls and the sites and we saw plenty. Our companions on the trip were not birders and may even have been turnips for all the interest they took. I tried to engage father, explaining a bit about Mangrove Vireo and its exclusive habitat but he appeared to be recovering slowly from his lobotomy so it didn’t elicit a response.


14-June-2008: Left Montreal 06.00 – Cleveland – Houston – Belize City – arriving 13.30 (15.30 eastern standard) on the road by 14.30. Arrived Chan Chich 18.30ish.

15 to 18 June 2008: Chan Chich – Gallon Jug – Sylvester – Laguna Verde – Laguna Seca – En-route to Crooked Tree via San Filipe and Orange Walk.

19-June-2008: Crooked Tree am - Altun Ha and environs – Crooked Tree pm.

20-June-2008: Crooked Tree boat trip and island all day.

21-June-2008: Crooked Tree am - Lamanai and environs – pm at Crooked Tree.

22-June-2008: Crooked Tree am – Shipstern and route – Crooked Tree pm.

23-June-2008: Crooked Tree am and route to airport.

The Lodges and Sites

Everything you have heard about Chan Chich is true. Yes it’s expensive and if you do trips on a dollar per bird basis you’ll cough a bit, but it really is a marvellous place. The birds are all around you, the trails are in good condition and productive, the staff are very friendly, the food too good, the rooms luxurious and our only complaint, if you could call it that, was that the site would benefit from a hummer feeding area, somewhere to pause in the heat. As it was we asked for a hummer feeder to be put up on our porch in advance and enjoyed the dog fights between the evil Rufous-tailed Hummingbird that claimed the prize for his own and the shy but determined Long-tailed and Stripe-throated Hermits that vied for a slurp.

The bugs on the trails were a pain but we walked most of them a few times, fleeing the Bajo Trail when they just would not back off. The King’s Tomb area was productive, the Back Plaza and Upper Plaza very good and the Logger’s Trail very birdy. We walked the road to the suspension bridge, a quarter of a mile from the main plaza. and saw some nice things, we also tarried on a few of the other trails a bit and always found something to entertain. A guide to birding at Chan Chich would be very useful, but then what would the bird guides do?

The lodge does night drives but we didn’t read any great things about them and they seemed to be unavailable when we were there so we did our own. We drove out to Gallon Jug after dinner each evening, a bumpy four miles from Chan Chich, where we cruised the open farmland roads. We saw lots of Paraques, a Common Potoo, a Yucatan Poorwill and a big cat, quite distant, probably a Puma.

The benefits of having our own transport meant we were also able to bird away from the lodge in the hottest part of the day. We visited Laguna Verde, which was very nice with a few birds. We also checked out some of the lanes and even refuelled in Gallon Jug at a farm.

The drive to Chan Chich was very birdy, took about 4.5 hours with stops and was enormous fun. Fill up at Linda Vista Credit Union on the way, they sell ice cream. You need written permission to traverse the private road to Chan Chich, there are two checkpoints, Chan Chich will provide directions.

Crooked Tree was quite different, the Bird’s Eye Lodge is homely and we would recommend an upstairs terrace room, the ground rooms are rather cell like. The food is local, nourishing and includes vegetables unfortunately. Birding is done from the road as all trails run through the village; there are lots of birds though. The lodging prices are cheaper than Chan Chich, but not cheap in real terms but then neither is anything in Belize, see their web site for details. Their long staying Southern Lapwing appears to have shuffled off this mortal coil in May 2008.

For many people, wandering around birding people’s gardens is not a problem, we are not that fussed by it though and the absence of secluded trails we found odd. Don’t get me wrong, we felt very safe, the people smiled and were friendly and even their dogs wagged their tails while barking, but its not really our scene.

Crooked Tree has a leaflet, sponsored in part by Bird life International and available when you sign in and pay your $4.00 at the visitor centre, it is after all a Ramsar site. The leaflet does not mention the trails though in fact it tells you nothing useful. The site really could do with its own printed trail guide and some sort of birding guide and perhaps a checklist. You can hire a bird guide which is a shortcut to finding things but the independent birder is not catered for. We also thought that, despite many public exhortations to keep the place clean and tidy, some of the islands inhabitants clearly rebelled and their properties were covered in trash. This was in contrast to many other villages, equally less wealthy, which kept things neat and tidy.

Having said all of the above, Crooked Tree is a must visit site in Northern Belize. You can see its birds with effort and you would probably only need a couple of nights there. Bird’s Eye Lodge is the best accommodation around and we enjoyed our time there even if meal times were a bit intrusive into the best birding times.

At both lodges there was Internet access.

Other Sites Visited

Chan Chich is too remote to visit anywhere else from really, although we did visit Laguna Seca on the way out, it is about four miles north of Gallon Jug and easily reached by your own transport. We would have liked to visit the ridge south of Chan Chich to do some raptor watching but ran out of time.

From Crooked Tree we went to Altun Ha, a Mayan ruin with some birding on the site and good birding on the old Northern Highway. We also went to the Lamanai Mayan site via road. Most people go there by river, again at a price, but the road route also offers good birding and the site itself has excellent forests. To get to Lamanai go north on the Northern Highway almost to Orange Walk. Lamanai is signposted after the toll bridge which is not operational at the weekend. Take the road and keep going to the T-junction, go left. Keep going a good distance until the road bends and Lamanai Outpost Lodge is signed on the left, take this left and you will arrive at the site.

On the Northern Highway at Sandhill there are some nice lagoons which always had birds when we passed. There is also a Jabiru nest somewhere just past the village to the north but we didn’t see it.

Shipstern National Reserve

This little visited reserve would be worth a few days alone. Situated three miles south of the coastal village of Sarteneja it is not easy to get too. We did our last full days birding there reaching it eventually and birding along the way, we also dropped in on the coast to try to find a birdy mangrove to try for Mangrove Warbler and Yucatan Vireo. As it happened it took so long that we could only spend a short time on the reserve. Upon arrival you have a guide assigned and can walk a variety of trails and visit the excellent canopy tower. We did a slow midday walk on the botanically trail, the knowledgeable guide doing the special mosquito jig with much slapping and scratching, we joined in, abstention was not an option!

To get to Shipstern from Crooked Tree go north to Orange Walk and then right at the traffic island, go right at the next island to the village of San Estevan. Go right at the graveyard, then first left then right on the broad track. After about four miles a lake appears on the left, it is part of some tourist complex, go right here and just keep going.

Lagoon between San Filipe and Blue Creek

We fortuitously found a large flooded paddy off the road between San Filipe and Blue Creek south west of Orange Walk. We counted a minimum of 72 Jabiru along with a variety of other birds. If passing its worth a look, just take the track that appears to lead the right direction, we did, nobody stopped us.

Dear diary…

Day 1: 14-June-2008

Arriving in Belize just about on time, the trip down the metal ladder from the plane gave us the first of many Grey-breasted Martins and a taste of the heat and humidity typical of the tropics. Once on the road a few birds appeared, Roseate Spoonbill and Great Egret at the end of the runway, also a House Sparrow. Further on a few roadside stops produced Snail Kite, Belted Kingfisher, Vermillion Flycatcher, the ubiquitous trio of common vultures and the first of a million White-collared Seedeaters.

With no desire to be navigating unknown quantities at night, we pressed quickly on adding four Muscovy Ducks, a few White Ibis, Blue & Black Grassquit, Eastern Meadowlark and a Mourning Dove to the trip list. Passing on to the rougher roads from Blue Creek through the private areas, Keel-billed Toucan, Collared Aracari and Masked Tityra were seen for the first of what were to be many occasions. As we neared Chan Chich, Ocellated Turkeys began to become common roadside birds. Having checked in we just had time to enjoy the Montezuma’s Oropendolas, Melodious Blackbirds and a couple of Bat Falcons from the chalet before dinner.

Trip list: 45.

Day 2: 15-June-2008

The oropendolas went off at 04.20, there is no snooze button. Sandra dozed so I took a short stroll around the plaza. A violent disturbance of the air around my head announced the arrival of two Crested Guan, which proceeded to move around their selected tree with the grace of a fridge. Mealy and Red-lored Parrots billed and coo’d in the tree tops and Short-billed Pigeons did their thing despite their impediment. Yellow-green Vireos were everywhere and so it proved the length and breadth of north Belize. A sharp double rap alerted me to the possibility of one of the larger woodpeckers and a Lineated was eventually located. By now the trogons had found their voice and the chatter of Black-headed Trogons was evident. Ocellated Turkeys appeared, showing scant regard for health and safety as they seemed intent on tripping me up. Back at our thatch covered palace our newly sited hummingbird feeder had customers, Western Long-tailed Hermit, Stripe-throated Hermit and their nemesis, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, time to eat breakfast.

Inevitably, the first morning back in the tropics, for those of us who just don’t get there often enough, is spent remembering some songs, chasing others and getting largely frustrated. Our plan was to walk to the suspension bridge, a quarter of a mile from the plaza, but progress was slow. A King Vulture breezed over, a Plumbeous Kite looked down its beak at us from its lofty perch and the aforementioned trogons went into overdrive.

Sandra, with her younger eyes, picked out a large flycatcher near the frog pond, which remained extremely mobile for five minutes before settling down and showing itself to be Northern Royal, the second tick for the day. Next an even more elusive bird turned out to be a Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher followed by Black-cowled Oriole, we were on a stroll. A nearby double rap seemed close enough to touch and a little searching picked out one of the trip’s ‘really would like to see’ birds, Pale-billed Woodpecker. These fantastic birds were a ‘cannot miss’ species for the duration of our stay at Chan Chich, there must be two or three pairs along that road.

Just before reaching the bridge, a rifle crack from within the vegetation slowed us down and we were entertained by two male White-collared Manakins doing their energetic dance for their lady. At the bridge we could not find the hoped for Lovely Cotinga, we later found out that its tree needs to be fruiting to stand a good chance.

The rest of the morning was spent picking up more birds along the Sec Be trail. Slaty-tailed Trogon, Sepia-capped Flycatcher, numerous Spot-breasted Wrens and a few calls Remembirded to work on later.

After lunch the heat took over so we explored out around Gallon Jug a bit. The forests come right down to the roads and we picked up Olive-backed and Scrub Euphonia, Yucatan Flycatcher and Couch’s Kingbird to join the half a million Tropical Kingbirds on our list, we also found a Yellow-winged Tanager, they look rather like a talented Palm Tanager.

Dinner was excellent and we were soon out doing our first night drive, almost glued to the windshield. The lanes around Gallon Jug produced many Common Paraque, a Northern Potoo making sallies from its woodland edge perch and a Barn Owl, they get everywhere. Eye shine was evident and turned out to be exclusively from the two deer species in the area, White-tailed and Red Brocket, no cats. We pushed north a little and came across a group of three birds sat on the track, two were clearly Paraque, the other was much smaller with a plumage rich in browns. A steady approach gave reasonable views and we identified it as a Yucatan Poorwill.

Driving back we continued to be vigilant but only saw more Paraques and a startled Opossum.

Day list: 64.

Trip: 94.

Day 3: 16-June-2008

The previous days heat and bites had taken their toll and we slept in to 04.28.

The plaza held the same species as before but we still fancied the chance of a Cotinga before breakfast so quick marched to the bridge, adding Smokey-Brown Woodpecker, Golden-Hooded Tanager, both greenlets, Long-billed Gnatwren and Scaly-breasted Hummingbird to the list. Again no Cotinga but good views of Gilberto, the senior and most respected Chan Chich guide going about his business with a couple out of Colorado.

Having cleared breakfast, we headed out to the Bajo trail reputed to hold a good variety of birds we had yet to see. The old Sylvester road that leads to the trail was quite buggy but, undeterred, we pressed on; it was also getting much hotter. The Bajo trail was pretty humid and quiet but we picked along adding Tawny-winged Woodcreeper, Black-faced Grosbeak and Blue Bunting. An Ochre-bellied Flycatcher distracted us for a while but not as much as the swarms of mossies did. I understand why so many birds eat them but really, they taste of nothing! Neither of us was enjoying this so we retraced our steps and went for more open trail birding along the road. Happier in our reduced bug environment we managed to see Eye-ringed Flatbill, Azure-headed Hummingbird and White-fronted Parrot. The Bajo trail and its delights would have to wait for a winter visit when Chan Chich is virtually bug free.

Post lunch Sandra relaxed, I went back to the Suspension Bridge and trails but didn’t see anything new. As the sun fell we both ventured out to the Upper Plaza looking for whatever. Blue-crowned Motmot was the first to show, along with Northern Barred Woodcreeper and some fleeting Dot-winged Antbirds. Insistent calling to our left led us to the King’s Tomb trail. We never actually tracked down the caller but did find a group of noisy and agitated Spider Monkeys. Walking the rise to the tomb we looked into a wooded depression when suddenly a Puma erupted from the vegetation and legged it through the forest away. It wasn't quite emergency laundry time but pretty exciting.

Our night trip again failed to find a cat but the Yucatan Poorwill was again on the road with its Paraque posse, no potoo though.

Day list: 59.

Trip list: 115.

Day 4: 17-June-2008

Our last full day at Chan Chich required remedial action to resolve some gaps so we turned to Gilberto for assistance. A 6.00 start was OK with us and we set about the Upper Plaza looking for the main prize, Tody Motmot. Gilberto took us along barely recognisable trails explaining this enigmatic little bird’s preferences. A Great Tinamou called nearby but, as ever, refused to show. Ivory-billed Woodcreepers belted out their call but they too were being obstreperous. After much walking and stalking we heard a quiet call responding to Gilberto and finally tracked down the Tody Motmot tick-tocking its tail a metre from the ground. The bird behaved very well, allowing photos and video before nipping off for a morsel. We completed our 2.5-hour walk and went to breakfast very satisfied.

Fed, sprayed and sluiced we set off to retrace our steps of the previous few hours looking for the woodcreepers and anything else. We birded the Back Plaza around the King’s Tomb and then took the Logger’s Trail to the bridge. At the King’s Tomb we listened to the call of the Ivory-billed Woodcreeper on my ipod to remind us what we were looking for but I may have had the sound up a bit because on responded immediately, Sandra saw it well but it took another 30 minutes before I managed to see it.

The Logger’s trail was less buggy than most and we enjoyed picking our way along seeing Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher and a very obliging Thrush-like Schiffornis. As the heat of the day peaked we returned to eat lunch and to visit Gallon Jug to put a bit more diesel in the truck to allow one final night crawl. While out that way we went to Laguna Verde and sat on the deck watching Swallow-tailed Kite, our first Blue-grey Tanagers of the trip, Tropical Gnatcatcher and Northern Beardless Tyrannulet. Ruddy Crakes called from the margins but just would not show, eventually the heat got to us a bit.

We slowly drove the tracks back to Gallon Jug, I casually commented as we stopped to check yet another Ocellated Turkey, that one would turn out to be a Great Curassow sooner or later. By Murphy’s law the next bird was a curassow and a superb male too. It strolled over the road at 150m range. Unfortunately, no chance of a photo but what a great bird.

That evening we did the night drive with Rick and Debbie from Colorado for company. The usual Paraques were present and the Barn Owl was back but no potoo or poorwill. We did see a cat though.

Day list: 86.

Trip list: 131.

Day 5: 18-June-2008

A travel day as we were to leave Chan Chich and go to Crooked Tree for the next five nights. Birding Chan Chich added Wedge-tailed Sabrewing, Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner and Grey Hawk to the list. We departed at 10.00 and went north to Laguna Seca, seeing a fine Grey Fox on the way.

Laguna Seca is a fair sized shallow lake and part of the Chan Chich area. A fallen tree was just being removed from the track by staff as we arrived. A short circuit gives good views over much of the lake and Jabiru, Purple Gallinule, and Anhinga were new for the trip. Pushing on back to Orange Walk we birded a few roadside spots seeing Hooded Oriole, Laughing Falcon.

Refreshing ourselves with Ice cream at Linda Vista, we crested a ridge on the road and the vast lowlands that make up Northern Belize spread before us. Roadside birds were stopped when seen and when we had passed the half way point between Blue Creek and San Filipe we noticed a collection of birds out on a flooded paddy, Jabirus. Stopping and scanning they seemed to be everywhere, not just on the paddy but in creeks nearby too.

We drove on, finding a farm track which went the right way and just followed our noses. Eventually we traversed a soft track to the paddy’s edge and started to scan. I counted 72 visible Jabiru; there were also Black-necked Stilts, Great Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets and a few Wood Storks on show.

With time pushing on, so did we, passing a few flocks of White-winged Doves and the usual vultures and we made Crooked Tree and Bird’s Eye Lodge by 17.10. Our original room on the ground floor was not the stuff of dreams so we shifted up to a balcony room and became much happier almost instantly. Time for rice and beans!

Day list: 101.

Trip list: 152.

Day 6: 19-June-2008

Heavy rain during the night had eased by morning and so we pottered around our new locale. The birder unfriendly meal times meant a short walk before returning to eat. We then explored the place, having dropped in to the visitor centre to chat to a very nice guy who sold a us a one off, four day permit for $16.00 and showed us dead things in jars.

This was to be the part of the trip that included ruins so we birded the causeway, adding Yucatan Bobwhite and Yucatan Woodpecker in short order. Our next stop was Altun Ha and we were able to see a few things on the way with Bare-throated Tiger-Heron new for the trip.

Altun Ha was interesting, although kids with parrots, Crocodiles and Coati trying to get their picture taken for a price was irritating. The lousy reggae being played by a bar at the entrance even more so. I don’t like reggae, its awful, but at least it wasn’t rap!

Once the rubble lust had been assuaged we drove the old Northern Highway birding as we went seeing Limpkin, Canivet’s Emerald and Short-tailed Hawk. Back at base we went out to ‘the pines’ where Acorn Woodpeckers abounded and we saw the only Chipping Sparrow of the trip without getting too excited.

One treat was to watch an ant swarm crossing the road and moving through the shrubbery. It was attended almost exclusively by Melodious Blackbirds for much of the time, a Great Kiskadee dropped by later.

Day list: 66.

Trip list: 170.

Day 7: 20-June-2008

The Crooked Tree boat trips have a good reputation as good for birds and so it proved to be. The weather was a bit grey at first but we were off at 06.00 and soon into a few birds. The first bird of real interest was Mangrove Vireo which sang and showed to our delight. Our boat companions were a po-faced family who showed little interest in anything, their uninspired kids only said ‘awesome’ once which actually is quite awesome.

Leonard, our skipper and in fact the entire crew, picked his way skilfully down to Spanish Creek and we added several species to life and trip lists, notably Black-collared and Great Black Hawks as the lifers, Tricoloured Heron, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Yellow-tailed Oriole, Osprey and Boat-billed Heron for the trip.

Back on land and having had our delayed breakfasts! we went off to ‘the pines’ finding Yucatan Jay, Northern (though in the south a bit) Cardinal, Plain Chachalaca and a Rose-throated Becard. Repairing to base for a coffee (fat chance) so tepid tea instead we were sat on the lower patio when a Grey-necked Wood-rail wandered past.

I decided to do a Big Sit (yes in the middle of the day, well I am English) and placed myself on one of the viewing benches overlooking a pool to the rear of the lodge and started to spot, I saw, in order seen:

Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Black Vulture, Northern Jacana, Tropical Kingbird, Vermillion Flycatcher, White-collared Seedeater, Tropical Mockingbird, Great-tailed Grackle, Melodious Blackbird, Groove-billed Ani, Great Kiskadee, Green Heron, Cattle Egret, Ruddy Ground-dove, Ringed Kingfisher, Great Black Hawk, Blue-grey Tanager, Short-tailed Hawk, Northern Bentbill, Pale-vented Pigeon, Grey-breasted Martin, Clay-coloured Robin, Yellow-green Vireo, Wood Stork, Olive-throated Parakeet, White Ibis, Red-winged Blackbird, Mangrove Swallow, Bronzed Cowbird, House Wren, Common Tody-flycatcher.

Once the heat had abated we walked a few local trails finding Yellow-headed Parrot and Yellow-throated Euphonia. A try at a night trip saw us find a freshly dead Boa Constrictor on a road we had walked an hour previously, but any night birds would have needed to shout for attention over the loud music heard everywhere.

Day list: 75.

Trip list: 187.

Day 8: 21-June-2008

Today was another Mayan ruin day but it was not at all ruined by the Mayan ruins, on the contrary, it was pretty good. After breakfast at the crack of 07.30 we sped off the island north to Orange Walk. Details for how to find Lamanai later but needless to say we birded on the way, stared at those crazy Mennonites (well they stared at us too!) and hit Lamanai around 10.00. The ruins here are very impressive and don’t obscure the trees too much. Bugs were much in evidence but we walked the trails a bit, seeing some nice but not new birds. After the last Mayan monolith we followed a trail to a tree, which is the only way to describe it, and as we approached I saw a snake fleeing off the track, you forget how quick they can go. We also found a real life feeding flock of birds. Blue-crowned Motmots were the most obvious birds but a Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Plain Xenops, Northern Royal Flycatcher, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Ivory-billed Woodcreeper, Chestnut-coloured and Smokey-brown Woodpecker and the many noisy Brown Jays made this flock the best we had seen in Belize so far (make that ever).

Back at the ruins’ reception area a gargle (I think its called or perhaps a Listerine) of Yucatan Howler Monkeys fed quietly above the picnic areas.

Driving back we continued to find flock after flock of Cattle Egrets, a sign that the land change brought about by forest clearance suits them rather well.

Belize, like all countries with poorer people and a natural crop of wood they have no affinity for, is being deforested. Everywhere you go the land smokes as the trees go, the cows move in and their buyers pass the guilt on to you with every burger. The country boasts that it still has 75% of its original forest but that is no cause for complacency. They may be a sovereign nation but they form a greater part of what should be a continuous habitat from Mexico to Argentina. Take that 75% and watch it drop, as the whole percentage of the forest lost in Central America is included. I think if the wealthy nations want to keep these forests in poorer countries they have to pay for them, the locals can’t afford to, after all cell phones cost money.

Day list: 68.

Trip list: 187.

Day 9: 22-June-2008

We decided that we could either wander around the Crooked Tree area trying to find a few species or we could explore a bit. As it was the last day we thought we would explore a bit so plotted a course north for Shipstern National Park.

We wanted to try to find some extensive mangroves which were accessible. Previous attempts had been foiled as the water levels in the mangrove swamps was very high and the roads we tried impassable. Pressing back north through Orange Walk to San Estevan we then went off on a trying track to Shipstern. It took a lot longer than we thought it would and so it was midday when we reached Shipstern. We went on a bit to the coastal town of Sarteneja, this was not just so we could add Magnificent Frigatebird to the list, oh no, there should have been mangroves but we couldn’t find access to them.

The route to Shipstern is very birdy, open farmland, patches of rich forest, a few lakes etc. We managed to find a singing Black Catbird, which was nice, and a family of Grey-necked Wood-rails crossing the track were a treat. When we eventually turned into the park after our coastal sojourn it was blazing hot. A Ferruginous Pygmy-owl flew into a cavity in a dead palm by the entrance and we watched it try to feed its well-grown youngster panting in the heat (the owl and us too).

At Shipstern you pay $5.Bz each and you get a free guide. Ours was a nice chap who knew squat about birds but could point to a tree at ten paces, no really he was very nice and botanically knowledgeable. We walked and swatted our way around the botanical trail which was quite good, well marked and interesting although I must admit to paying more attention to the dove I could hear calling rather than to the tree lecture.

The walk ended with me sticking a newly cut stump through my foot and an offer from the guide to ascend their new canopy tower which is very impressive, the dove still called. As we reached the compound it flew up into view, Caribbean Dove, another hoped for. We added an Altimira Oriole before setting off back ‘home’. Just after leaving we rounded a bend when a lump of a bird flew over the track, our second Great Curassow. Further on we made a few more stops but rice and beans was beckoning so we just had to go.

Day list: 82.

Trip list: 199.

Day 10: 23-June-2008

Our midday flight meant that we could make our way to the airport at a leisurely pace, although realistically there is no other pace in Belize as far as we could see.

Birding the causeway out from Crooked Tree we saw a flock of parrots. A Yellow-lored gap in our want to see parrot list was quickly filled with good views of just that species. The 200 for the trip was up, the car hire time was expiring and it was time to go. A last stop at the Sandhill lagoons added Amazon Kingfisher to the final list and we dumped the car and settled down for the pain that is travel. That pain increased when an American Airways employee sneaked out and put a cancelled sign on our flight, the day just got longer.

We eventually arrived home at 01.00 on 24-June having enjoyed another bout of ‘oh god not Miami airport again’ syndrome and vowing to avoid there at all costs in the future.

Day: 53.



If we were to plan the trip again we would keep the Chan Chich trip as is, stop two nights at Lamanai outpost after, then end at Crooked Tree. A few more days in Belize would have been nice too!

Reviewing the list of birds seen there are some obvious gaps which we would have filled with more diligence and effort although a large trip list was not the object of the vacation. Either way we saw 45 new species and had a good time. Belize has an equally interesting southern part and we will do a visit there sometime in the next few years.


We used the web for trip reports, none for June until now though, but many thanks to everyone who published. We also relied on the lodge web sites for information, the Birding Belize site and of course the field guides and the annotated checklist of the Birds of Belize.

References used:

    Lonely Planet Belize guide.

    Birds of Belize
, H Lee Jones.

    The Birds of Mexico and Adjacent areas, Belize, Guatemala and El Salvador
, E P Edwards.

    A Field Guide to the Mammals of Central America and Southeast Mexico
, Fiona Reid.

Belize & Northern Guatemala: The Ecotravellers' Wildlife Guide, Les Beletski.

Various sound tracks culled from wherever available. NB use of playback is frowned on at Chan Chich. We also used the Remembird device both for field recordings and notes, it is quite effective and useful for recording a singing bird for reference and, now the price has dropped a bit, more within budget.

Birds seen

The list follows the sequence used in The Birds of Belize by H Lee Jones. I’ve only included brief details of what we saw unless I thought more details useful to others, the little devils fly away.

Great Tinamou Tinamus major

Heard at Chan Chich but as ever, elusive.

Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus

One off Sartenega on 21-6-8.

Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasilianus

Common at Crooked Tree with c350 in one feeding group. Also seen at Laguna Verde while at Chan Chich.

Anhinga Anhinga anhinga

Seen on several lagoons and fairly common at Crooked Tree.

Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens

Seen off Sartenega on our brief visit.

Bare-throated Tiger-Heron Tigrisoma mexicanum

Three at Crooked Tree on the boat tour, odd ones elsewhere.

Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias

Seen at Laguna Seca and on the flooded paddy near San Filipe.

Great Egret Ardea alba


Snowy Egret Egretta thula

Seen at several sites, around 25 in total.

Little Blue Heron Egretta caerulea

A few birds moulting from sub-adult and rather scabby looking present at several sites.

Tricolored Heron Egretta tricolor

A couple of sub-adults around Crooked Tree and an adult near the airport.

Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis

Not common anywhere away from the Mennonite farming areas where they fair bloom. The area north of Lamanai had mny flocks attending the cattle, there were fewer in the area on the raod to Shipstern but they were still noticeable.

Green Heron Butorides virescens

Common enough, nothing suggested striated.

Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax

Seen at dusk at Crooked Tree a couple of times.

Boat-billed Heron Cochlearius cochlearius

One at Crooked Tree from the boat tour.

White Ibis Eudocimus albus

Usually a few at wetland sites

Roseate Spoonbill Platalea ajaja

Same as above

Jabiru Jabiru mycteria

We rather enjoyed prolonged views of one at Laguna Seca on the way out of Chan Chich. This experience was rather eclipsed when we saw ‘lots’ flying around an area of flooded paddy between Blue Creek and San Filipe south-west of Orange Walk. Birds were coming and going all of the time and many pitched into a creek hidden from us. By negotiating the farm tracks were able to get to one corner of the lagoon counting 72 visible birds.

Wood Stork Mycteria Americana

Common enough in open country with pools

Black Vulture Coragyps atratus


Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura


Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture Cathartes burrovianus

Actually lots too, they seemed to be very common in the open country, especially around the fields of Gallon Jug.

King Vulture Sarcoramphus papa

Seen at Chan Chich and on the access road between Gallon Jug and Blue Creek.

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna autumnalis

Common on pools and at Crooked Tree.

Muscovy Duck Cairina moschata

Four on the way to Chan Chich, another near the airport on a nice little flooded area.

Osprey Pandion haliaetus

A couple around Crooked Tree.

Swallow-tailed Kite Elanoides forficatus

Two around Laguna Verde just north of Gallon Jug.

White-tailed Kite Elanus leucurus

Seen around Gallon Jug and near Lamanai.

Snail Kite Rostrhamus sociabilis

Several around the roadside lagoons near Sandhill on the Northern Highway north of the airport.

Plumbeous Kite Ictinia plumbea

Seen around Chan Chich.

Black-collared Hawk Busarellus nigricollis

One from the Crooked Tree boat trip.

Common Black-Hawk Buteogallus anthracinus

One on the way to Chan Chich.

Great Black-Hawk Buteogallus urubitinga

Three around Crooked Tree.

Grey Hawk Buteo nitidus

A couple around Gallon Jug.

Roadside Hawk Buteo magnirostris


Short-tailed Hawk Buteo brachyurus

About five seen in open country.

Laughing Falcon Herpetotheres cachinnans

Three seen.

Bat Falcon Falco rufigularis

A pair at Chan Chich around the main plaza, another from the Crooked Tree boat trip.

Plain Chachalaca Ortalis vetula

Seen at three sites.

Crested Guan Penelope purpurascens

Common around Chan Chich and Laguna Seca.

Great Curassow Crax rubra

One male at Laguna Verde, one near Shipstern.

Ocellated Turkey Meleagris ocellata

Very common at Chan Chich and on the approach road.

Yucatan Bobwhite Colinus nigrogularis

Two pairs seen on the Crooked Tree track before the causeway. Two flushed from the road west of Shipstern.

Ruddy Crake Laterallus rubber

Heard at Laguna Verde.

Grey-necked Wood-Rail Aramides cajanea

One walking the tide line at Crooked Tree, a pair with two small young near Shipstern.

Purple Gallinule Porphyrio martinica

One at Laguna Seca.

Limpkin Aramus guarauna

Seen from the Crooked Tree boat trip, heard in many placed and one face down on the Northern Highway.

Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus

Twenty five on the paddy near San Filipe, a pair near Shipstern.

Northern Jacana Jacana spinosa

Common but not up in trees so not in the jungle.

Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica

Two at Crooked Tree.

Rock Pigeon Columba livia

Not very common, never mind.

Pale-vented Pigeon Patagioenas cayennensis

Common at Crooked Tree.

Red-billed Pigeon Patagioenas flavirostris

Seen at Chan Chich, didn’t really look much for them otherwise.

Short-billed Pigeon Patagioenas nigrirostris


Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura

One seen near Orange Walk on June 14th.

White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica

Small flocks in farm country, odd groups elsewhere.

Common Ground-Dove Columbina passerina

Common near Shipstern, also a couple seen near Crooked Tree.

Ruddy Ground-Dove Columbina talpacoti


Blue Ground-Dove Claravis pretiosa

Seen daily at Chan Chich.

Gray-headed Dove Leptotila plumbeiceps

Seen at Chan Chich.

Caribbean Dove Leptotila jamaicensis

One at Shipstern.

Olive-throated Parakeet Aratinga nana


Brown-hooded Parrot Pionopsitta haematotis

Seen at Chan Chich.

White-crowned Parrot Pionus senilis

Seen at Chan Chich.

White-fronted Parrot Amazona albifrons

Seen at several places.

Yellow-lored Parrot Amazona xantholora

Saved until the last day when seen well from the access track to Crooked Tree.

Red-lored Parrot Amazona autumnalis


Mealy Parrot Amazona farinose

Common at Chan Chich.

Yellow-headed Parrot Amazona oratrix

Two pairs around Crooked Tree, their subdued calls are distinctive.

Squirrel Cuckoo Piaya cayana

Heard Chan Chich, seen near Shipstern.

Groove-billed Ani Crotophaga sulcirostris


Barn Owl Tyto alba

One around Gallon Jug on two night drives.

Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium brasilianum

A nest at the entrance to Shipstern NP that the rangers seemed unaware of. An adult bird was trying to feed a frog to its well grown young.

Pauraque Nyctidromus albicollis

Common at Chan Chich and Gallon Jug, also heard at Crooked Tree.

Yucatan Poorwill Nyctiphrynus yucatanicus

One on the road at Gallon Jug seen well with Paraque on the ground for comparison.

Northern Potoo Nyctibius jamaicensis

One at Gallon Jug on one date, it would have been seen better had not the paranoid woman at Pierre Trudeau Airport confiscated our spot lamp.

White-collared Swift Streptoprocne zonaris

A couple at Gallon Jug.

Vaux's Swift Chaetura vauxi

Several seen in open country.

Western Long-tailed Hermit Phaethornis longirostris

Several seen at Chan Chich.

Stripe-throated Hermit Phaethornis striigularis

A couple around Chan Chich.

Scaly-breasted Hummingbird Phaeochroa cuvierii

Several at Chan Chich.

Wedge-tailed Sabrewing Campylopterus curvipennis

One, Chan Chich.

Canivet's Emerald Chlorostilbon canivetii

One near Altun Ha.

White-bellied Emerald Agyrtria candida

Fairly common at Chan Chich, several elsewhere.

Azure-crowned Hummingbird Agyrtria cyanocephala

One at Chan Chich.

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird Amazilia tzacatl


Black-headed Trogon Trogon melanocephalus

Common and seen or heard everywhere.

Violaceous Trogon Trogon violaceus

Fairly common, trogons in Belize are easy to see.

Slaty-tailed Trogon Trogon Massena

A few at Chan Chich.

Tody Motmot Hylomanes momotula

A dinky little bird that took some finding at Chan Chich. Eventually, with the aid of Gilberto and his hidden trails, we tracked down a tame individual which sat and ticked its tail pendulum style and smiled for the camera.

Blue-crowned Motmot Momotus momota

Heard lots in the forests with several seen.

Ringed Kingfisher Megaceryle torquata


Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon

One near Sandhill surprisingly.

Amazon Kingfisher Chloroceryle amazona

One near Sandhill.

Green Kingfisher Chloroceryle Americana

Seen at Crooked Tree.

Rufous-tailed Jacamar Galbula ruficauda

Flushed off the roads a few times and odd birds seen and heard in the woods.

Collared Araçari Pteroglossus torquatus

Pretty common.

Keel-billed Toucan Ramphastos sulfuratus

Common in the forests.

Acorn Woodpecker Melanerpes formicivorus

Seen at Crooked Tree where fairly common.

Black-cheeked Woodpecker Melanerpes pucherani

Common at Chan Chich, odd ones elsewhere.

Yucatan Woodpecker Melanerpes pygmaeus

Fairly common in open country, especially at Crooked Tree.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker Melanerpes aurifrons

Common in open country.

Smoky-brown Woodpecker Veniliornis fumigatus

Several seen in the forests.

Golden-olive Woodpecker Piculus rubiginosus

One only at Chan Chich.

Chestnut-coloured Woodpecker Celeus castaneus

Four seen, one very well at Lamanai.

Lineated Woodpecker Dryocopus lineatus

A pair in the main plaza at Chan Chich.

Pale-billed Woodpecker Campephilus guatemalensis

Perhaps three pairs at Chan Chich and very showy.

Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner Automolus ochrolaemus

One at Chan Chich.

Plain Xenops Xenops minutes

Heard at Chan Chich, seen Lamanai.

Tawny-winged Woodcreeper Dendrocincla anabatina

One at Chan Chich, we expected more.


Olivaceous Woodcreeper Sittasomus griseicapillus

A couple seen at Chan Chich, one Lamanai.

Wedge-billed Woodcreeper Glyphorynchus spirurus

Seen, Chan Chich.

Strong-billed Woodcreeper Xiphocolaptes promeropirhynchus

Heard Chan Chich.

Northern Barred-Woodcreeper Dendrocolaptes sanctithomae

One, Chan Chich.

Ivory-billed Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus flavigaster

Seen at Chan Chich and Lamanai.

Barred Antshrike Thamnophilus doliatus

Common in secondary growth but not easy to see.

Dot-winged Antwren Microrhopias quixensis

Present at Chan Chich.

Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet Camptostoma imberbe

One at Laguna Verde.

Yellow-bellied Elaenia Elaenia flavogaster

A couple around Crooked Tree.

Ochre-bellied Flycatcher Mionectes oleagineus

Seen, Chan Chich.

Sepia-capped Flycatcher Leptopogon amaurocephalus

Seen, Chan Chich.

Northern Bentbill Oncostoma cinereigulare

One seen well at Chan Chich, heard and occasionally seen almost daily elsewhere.

Common Tody-Flycatcher Todirostrum cinereum

Common at Crooked Tree.

Eye-ringed Flatbill Rhynchocyclus brevirostris

One seen well at Chan Chich a few others seen badly elsewhere.

Yellow-olive Flycatcher Tolmomyias sulphurescens

Seen at Chan Chich.

Northern Royal Flycatcher Onychorhynchus mexicanus

Singles, Chan Chich and Lamanai.

Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher Myiobius sulphureipygius

One, Chan Chich, by the frog pond.

Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher Terenotriccus erythrurus

One, Chan Chich.

Tropical Pewee Contopus cinereus

One, Chan Chich.

Vermilion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus

Common at Crooked Tree and in open country.

Bright-rumped Attila Attila spadiceus

One at Crooked Tree.

Yucatan Flycatcher Myiarchus yucatanensis

Reasonably common although the Myiarchus flycatchers seen were not always scrutinised.

Dusky-capped Flycatcher Myiarchus tuberculifer


Brown-crested Flycatcher Myiarchus tyrannulus

Rather overlooked.

Great Kiskadee Pitangus sulphuratus


Social Flycatcher Myiozetetes similes


Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher Myiodynastes luteiventris

Fairly common.

Piratic Flycatcher Legatus leucophaius

One near Sandhill.

Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus

Very common.

Couch's Kingbird Tyrannus couchii

Quite common but not always specifically looked, or rather listened for.

Fork-tailed Flycatcher Tyrannus savana

Reasonably common in open country.

Thrush-like Schiffornis Schiffornis turdina

Seen and heard at Chan Chich.

Rose-throated Becard Pachyramphus aglaiae

Common around Shipstern.

Masked Tityra Tityra semifasciata

Common, a wire or dead snag bird.

Black-crowned Tityra Tityra inquisitor

A pair breeding in the Main Plaza at Chan Chich.

White-collared Manakin Manacus candei

Common at Chan Chich and on the access road, great fun.

Red-capped Manakin Pipra mentalis

See,n Chan Chich.

Mangrove Vireo Vireo pallens

Seen well at Crooked Tree.

Yellow-green Vireo Vireo flavoviridis

Very common.

Tawny-crowned Greenlet Hylophilus ochraceiceps

Common in the forests.

Lesser Greenlet Hylophilus decurtatus

Common in the forests.

Rufous-browed Peppershrike Cyclarhis gujanensis

One at Crooked Tree.

Brown Jay Cyanocorax morio

Common, noisy birds.

Yucatan Jay Cyanocorax yucatanicus

Seen at Crooked Tree and Shipstern.

Purple Martin Progne subis

An adult roosting on wires with Grey-breasted Martins near Altun Ha.

Grey-breasted Martin Progne chalybea

Common, the first bird you see off the plane, they breed at the airport.

Mangrove Swallow Tachycineta albilinea


Spot-breasted Wren Thryothorus maculipectus


House Wren Troglodytes aedon


White-bellied Wren Uropsila leucogastra

Pretty Common, heard more than seen.

White-breasted Wood-Wren Henicorhina leucosticta


Long-billed Gnatwren Ramphocaenus melanurus

A couple seen at Chan Chich, one building a nest.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Polioptila caerulea

Common at Crooked Tree.

Tropical Gnatcatcher Polioptila plumbea

Seen, Chan Chich.

Clay-colored Robin Turdus grayi


White-throated Thrush Turdus assimilis

Two at Chan Chich surprised us but Gilberto confirmed their presence in the area in June.

Black Catbird Melanoptila glabrirostris

One in full song by the roadside on the way to Shipstern.

Tropical Mockingbird Mimus gilvus


Red-crowned Ant-Tanager Habia rubica

Common, Chan Chich.

Red-throated Ant-Tanager Habia fuscicauda

Common, Chan Chich.

Blue-gray Tanager Thraupis episcopus

Common in open country.

Yellow-winged Tanager Thraupis abbas

A couple at Chan Chich, tanagers in general were hard to find.

Scrub Euphonia Euphonia affinis

Several seen at Chan Chich.

Yellow-throated Euphonia Euphonia hirundinacea

Fairly common at Crooked Tree.

Olive-backed Euphonia Euphonia gouldi

Seen, Chan Chich.

Golden-hooded Tanager Tangara larvata

One, Chan Chich.

Green Honeycreeper Chlorophanes spiza

A few seen at Chan Chich.

Shining Honeycreeper Cyanerpes lucidus

Seen in several forest locations.

Red-legged Honeycreeper Cyanerpes cyaneus

The commonest honeycreeper, seen many places.

Blue-black Grassquit Volatinia jacarina

Common in open country.

White-collared Seedeater Sporophila torqueola

Very common everwhere.

Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina

One at Crooked Tree.

Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis

Only heard, can you believe it, must try harder.

Grayish Saltator Saltator coerulescens

Common, Crooked Tree.

Black-headed Saltator Saltator atriceps

Common, Chan Chich.

Black-faced Grosbeak Caryothraustes poliogaster

Several competing verbally on the road to Sylvester at Chan Chich.

Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis

Common at Crooked Tree, when do they become Central Cardinals, they seem brighter than the ones in our garden.

Blue Bunting Cyanocompsa parellina

Common along the Sylvester Road at Chan Chich.

Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus

Small numbers in the right habitats, vocally different from Canadian birds.

Eastern Meadowlark Sturnella magna

Common in the open areas.

Melodious Blackbird Dives dives

Common, big whistler in the jungle.

Great-tailed Grackle Quiscalus mexicanus


Bronzed Cowbird Molothrus aeneus


Giant Cowbird Molothrus oryzivorus

Seen at Chan Chich.

Yellow-tailed Oriole Icterus mesomelas

Common Crooked Tree and in open areas.

Altamira Oriole Icterus gularis

Frequent around Shipstern.

Hooded Oriole Icterus cucullatus

Odd ones seen.

Black-cowled Oriole Icterus prosthemelas

The commonest oriole.

Yellow-billed Cacique Amblycercus holosericeus

Present, Chan Chich and Crooked Tree.

Montezuma Oropendola Gymnostinops Montezuma

Frankly rather silly birds, very common at Chan Chich.

House Sparrow Passer domesticus

One near the airport.


Belize has a solid reputation for its wildlife including its large mammals. We saw a good variety of animals, mostly very well, but didn’t manage a Jaguar.

The list follows the order used in Reid’s mammal guide mentioned earlier.

Common Opossum Didelphis marsupialis

One at Chan Chich.

Yucatan Howler Monkey Alouatta pigra

Heard daily at Chan Chich. Nice views of a group at Lamanai.

Central American Spider Monkey Ateles geoffroyi.

Common at Chan Chich.

Yucatan Squirrel Sciurus yucatanensis

Seen at Crooked Tree.

Deppe’s Squirrel Sciurus deppei.

Seen, Chan Chich.

Central American Agouti Dasyprocta punctata

A couple seen at Chan Chich.

Gray Fox Urocyon cinereoargenteus

One on the way out of Chan Chich, a smart looking animal.

White-nosed Coati Nasua narica

Several seen. One grumpy, the obvious mother of tiny ones, scalded us as we walked the Chan Chich road.

Kinkajou Potos flavus

One at Chan Chich.

Puma Puma concolor

While birding in the area of the King’s tomb at Chan Chich we noticed the monkeys getting noisy and upset, just over a raised bank we flushed a Puma at 40 feet range, it went the right way thankfully.

During a night drive from Chan Chich to the Gallon Jug area, we picked up a distant large cat’s eye shine just off the road, about 40m before the start of a sugar cane crop. The poor view through the bins revealed a large cat, pale and seemingly without markings, probably a Puma. In typical cat fashion it moved slowly from the roadside to the sugar cane crop edge, gave us another look and was gone. We crept up to the area but found no sign of the cat, perhaps with bait it might have shown, where was a Californian jogger when you need one!

White-tailed Deer Odocoileus virginianus.

Common around Gallon Jug.

Red Brocket Mazama americana

Common around Gallon Jug too.


At Chan Chich a family of bats kept landing around us on the deck while we ate diiner, no idea what species though. Bigger bats with pale undersides were seen on night drives.

Snakes & Amphibians

One about 1m long one at Lamanai flashed across the track, rich pale brown in colour.

A dead Boa Constrictor, which had been very recently killed, was at Crooked Tree.

Frogs and toads

Lots, but no poison dart frogs seen. Some amphibians around Chan Chich were the size of a house brick.


Green Iguana Iguana iguana

Common at Crooked Tree

Spiny-tailed Iguana Ctenosaura similis

One at Shipstern.

Striped Basilisk Basiliscus vittatus

Common, also known as the Jesus Christ Lizard as it runs on water (AKA Brian Clough Lizard in Nottinghamshire for much the same reason).

Also something rather Chameleon like at Shipstern which the guide had never seen before and lot of chattering geckoes everywhere.

If you want to contact us about anything in this report feel free.

Some images and video appear on my blog at

Mark Dennis

Birding Top 500 Counter