27th-28th February 2014
Crooked Tree, Belize
The star birds for the end of February were undoubtably the group of 20-30 Yucatan Jays I found at the back of Crooked Tree village. The birds were feeding on a swarm of ants that were climbing up the trunk of the tree and I couldn't believe my luck when I saw the Jays lining up along the length of the tree trunk to provide an almost perfect composition.
Yucatan Jays are unusual in that the immatures, with their yellow bills and eye ring, are more beautiful than the adults, who have wholely black heads. The juvenile plumage is even more spectacular with the black head and breast and belly being replaced by pure white feathers. Unfortunately this is only a very transitory plumage and it is currently the wrong time of year for there to be any juveniles about.
The only other species of Corvid in the area is the Brown Jay, who can usually easily be located by their loud, raucous calls.
Several species of parrot can be found around the village, including the White-fronted and Yellow-headed Amazons shown above and below, although they are often difficult to see when perched since their green plumage blends in so well with the foliage of the trees.
The only parakeet found in the whole of Belize is the Olive-throated Parakeet, and they are numerous around Crooked Tree.
Other common birds around the village included House Wrens, Tropical Mockingbirds, Melodious Blackbirds, Great-tailed Grackles, Ruddy Ground-doves, Great Kiskadees and Social Flycatchers.
Their habit of basking on the top of exposed tree stumps around the village made the Black Iguanas particularly photogenic in the early mornings...
A pair of Grey-necked Wood Rails were extremely reliable on one of the roadside ponds and, although secretive, were not at all shy and often approached to within a few metres of me.
Northern Waterthrushes and Common Yellowthroat could also usually be found relatively easily in the same pond.
A pair of Striped Basilisks could also often be found here, basking on the low bushes in the early morning sun.
These spectacular lizards are also frequently known as the Jesus Christ Lizard due to their amazing ability to run across the surface of open water for up to 30 feet (10metres).
Above the pond, in one of the big trees, a pair of Yucatan Grey Squirrels were busy stripping the bark from the branches...
...and in the scrubby bushes along the roadsides, Spot-breasted Wrens and Barred Antshrikes were frequently seen skulking their way through the foliage.
Higher up, in the larger trees, Rose-throated Becards, Yellow-olive Flycatcher and Pale-vented Pigeons could occasionally be found.
The only woodcreeper I've seen so far was a solitary Ivory-billed Woodcreeper that was exploring the roadside fence posts just before sunrise.
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