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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

December 19th, 2011 · 2 Comments

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At Monkey Bay we didn’t see any monkeys. Or even a bay. But we had one of our biggest days of birding ever.

Sandy Komito, our tour companion, had his Big Years in 1987 and 1998 when he established new records by seeing 721 and 748 species of birds respectively. His record of 748 in 1998 still stands. In our Big Day we didn’t see quite as many, but they included the ones that Sharon and I most wanted to see in Belize.

Sharon most wanted to see a Jabiru Stork. I most wanted to see a toucan. We saw and photographed both on our fourth day in Belize. While I was in Panama during March, I had seen many Keel-billed Toucans. But the toucan we saw in Belize was, if anything, even more colorful.

En route from Crooked Tree Lodge to Monkey Bay, Glenn took us on a side road near Sand Hill where he thought he might find Jabirus. He did!

A Jabiru Flies

A Jabiru Flies

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The Jabiru is the tallest flying bird in South America and Central America, standing up to 5 feet tall. Along with the Andean Condor, it has the largest wingspan of any land bird in the world, about 9 or 10 feet.

The toucans that we saw later the same day are much smaller and much more colorful. These Collared Aracaris, like other toucans, have bright markings and huge bills.

Collared Aracaris Use Their Huge Bills to Eat Fruit

Collared Aracaris Use Their Huge Bills to Eat Fruit

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During the course of the day I photographed many other birds, animals, and scenes. Four of these avian photographs are worth sharing with you, along with three other images.

The Masked Tityra that I photographed that early morning even before Glenn found the Jabiru was also the first one of this species I had ever seen. While I was tempted to write that this bird doesn’t really wear a mask, that’s wrong. Its permanent mask is more real than one that you can put on or take off.

The Masked Tityra Has a Real Mask

The Masked Tityra Has a Real Mask

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Just a quarter of an hour later we came across another unusual bird, an American Pygmy Kingfisher. Like all kingfishers it has a long beak, a short tail, and exceptionally stocky build. But this thick kingfisher is so small that it’s only about 5 inches long, and we were lucky to spot this silent bird in the sun as it broke through the forest shade.

An American Pygmy Kingfisher Waits

An American Pygmy Kingfisher Waits

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That afternoon we spotted this sleepy-looking seedeater. This species is a member of the tanager family distinguished by its conical bill.

A Male White-Collared Seedeater in the Rain

A Male White-Collared Seedeater in the Rain

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I was glad that I could also see some regal birds of prey, including this Gray Hawk. We found this intent-looking bird right after lunch.

A Gray Hawk has Orange Legs

A Gray Hawk has Orange Legs

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We ate lunch at Cheers, a restaurant and bar along the Western Highway about 30 miles from Belize City. This Cheers is nothing like Cheers in Boston.

Sandy, Sharon, and Glenn Wait for Lunch at Cheers

Sandy, Sharon, and Glenn Wait for Lunch at Cheers

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While we ate lunch at Cheers, heavy rain came down on the roof, not us. It also came down on this Basilisk Lizard that I was able to photograph from under cover. People in Central America often call this species a Jesus Christ Lizard because it can walk on water, as the Bible says Jesus did.

A Basilisk Lizard in the Rain

A Basilisk Lizard in the Rain

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That day at Crooked Tree Lodge we visited with another animal. This is is Princess, an orphan cow that Mick and Angie Webb had adopted.

Sandy and Glenn Pet Princess

Sandy and Glenn Pet Princess

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What a glorious day in Belize! The name of this country most appropriately rhymes with the word “please.”

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Posted in: Belize

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Paul Riederer // Dec 24, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    David, we love all the great bird photos… makes us feel like we are there with you! All the best to you and Sharon, Paul & Susan

  • 2 David Mendosa // Dec 24, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Dear Paul and Susan,

    Thank you! I will pass on your greetings to Sharon. Happy holidays!

    David

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