|Ready for a hike ?|
My Fourth and Fifth Day in Honduras - Rio Amarillo Nature Reserve and Bird # 500 ?
For my last full day in Honduras, Robert and I drove to the Rio Amarillo reserve. This reserve is unique; a rare patch of lowland rainforest in western Honduras. So the possibility for a whole batch of new birds beckoned but I soon ran into the price that ornithophiles have to pay: It is one hard hike...
|Approaching the forest at Rio Amarillo|
I imagine that Rio Amarillo is a challenging hike on a good day. To reach the actual forest reserve you must walk through a few cow pastures. Once you reach the forest, the hiking is all steeply uphill and then subsequently, all steeply downhill. Now, that is a good day: This day was wet and miserable, which turned a good, hard hike into an old-fashioned trudge. By the end of the day, my thighs ached, my calves were marked from the innumerable thorny plants that grow along the trails and my boots were caked with what I really hope was mud. Thankfully there were some good birds hanging around to reward my efforts.
A nice flock of WHITE-FRONTED PARROTS, BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING DUCKS and an overhead AMAZON KINGFISHER were seen on the drive to the reserve. SOUTHERN HOUSE WREN, VAUX'S SWIFT, RUFOUS-AND-WHITE WREN, MASKED TITYRA, RUDDY CRAKE, RED-LEGGED HONEYCREEPER, ROADSIDE HAWK and BRONZED COWBIRD showed up as we trudged trhough the pasture to the forest. Hummingbirds like LONG-BILLED HERMIT, STRIPE-THROATED HERMIT, CROWNED WOODNYMPH and RUFOUS-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD popped up along the forest trail. One spot led to sightings of PLAIN ANTVIREO, PLAIN XENOPS, GOLDEN-CROWNED WARBLER, WEDGE-BILLED WOODCREEPER and TAWNY-CROWNED GREENLET. Further up the hillside, a RED-CAPPED MANAKIN performed it's "wing-popping" display and two KEEL-BILLED TOUCANS put in a brief cameo.
The trip back down the hill yielded more birds: SMOKY-BROWN WOODPECKER, RED-THROATED ANTTANAGER, SEPIA-CROWNED FLYCHATCHER and a surprising RUDDY FOLIAGE-GLEANER ( more likely in cloud forest so this one was a little out of place ). The return walk through the pasture gave us YELLOW-THROATED EUPHONIAS and a flock of WHITE-CROWNED PARROTS.
Back at La Chorcha, I turned my attention to packing, a bit of souvenir shopping ( downtown Copan Ruinas is a 5 minute walk from the La Chorcha property ) and resting. A few of the regulars ( can you imagine calling a cinnamon hummingbird a regular ? ) came and went as I stayed planted on a chair, watching from my cabin patio ( taking a slumber in that hammock too...). Nothing jump-off-your-seat exciting, though. The following morning after a drive to the airport, a good-bye and thank you to Robert for his guiding and expertise, I was on a plane back to Toronto.
|The La Chorcha property. Can you see the cabins ?|
During my return trip, I thought about the birds I saw but also those tantalizing near-misses. Spot-Bellied Bobwhite and Spotted Wood-Quail around the grounds La Chorcha ( *sigh*)...Black-headed Siskin, Grace's Warbler, Spot-Breasted Wren and Olive Warbler from Las Lagunas-San Francisco Rd. ( all of them heard but not seen ). The hummingbird at Macaw Mountain I couldn't identify ( Azure-fronted, maybe ? ) ... The tantalizing call-in of a Black-faced Antthrush ( arrrgghhh...so close !) as well as Squirrel Cuckoo at Rio Amarillo.To make all these near-misses more agonizing, my life list was around 450 before thetrip.Obviously, I wanted to check off Bird #500 but it was going to be very close.Unfortunately for me, I had a lot of unexpected brooding time because I got stranded in Detroit for 24 hours due to inclimate weather.
By the time I reached home and entered all my info ( cheap plug for http://www.birdstack.com/ ), I found my life list hit 500 right on the button. Number 500, it turns out, was a bird I found late in the afternoon after returning from Rio Amarillo. Two of them hopped around the cabins at La Chorcha for a good ten minutes before coming into view clearly. Even once the species was ID'd, I thought I had already seen this bird on my honeymoon in Costa Rica. It turns out those two RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLERS are milestone birds and I have to declare them my MVB ( Most Valuable Bird ) for this trip ( all apologies to the Barred Antshrike).
A big thank you to Robert Gallardo, his wife and their staff. The cabins at La Chorcha ( http://lachorchalodge.com/ ) are wonderful and my recommendation goes without saying. Robert is also a teriffic guide and I wouldn't have had half as many birds without his help. Also a big thank you to 10,000 Birds for picking my name as the contest winner. And a huge thank you to my wife for staying home with our two young children while I was away.