March 2014

24th March - 2nd April 2014 (part 2)
Tikal, Guatemala

Ornate Hawk-eagle (Spizaetus ornatus)

One of the most memorable experiences of my stay in Tikal was when I turned a corner on a forest trail one afternoon and came face-to-face with a gorgeous Ornate Hawk-eagle perched on an eye-level branch less than 10m from me. With its feathers soaking wet it looked like it had just been bathing in one of the many water troughs provided for the animals throughout the park. I couldn't believe my luck when, instead of immediately flying off like I expected it would, it just sat there watching me for 10 minutes, totally unconcerned by the machine gun-like noise of my camera blasting off several hundred frames. Opportunities like that don't come around very often and it is a very impressive bird when you see it that close! The only downside was that it was too close to be able to get any full-body photographs of it...

Ornate Hawk-eagle (Spizaetus ornatus)

Another good area for birding at Tikal is along the track towards the Aguada del Crocodilos that borders the old airfield. I took several late afternoon walks along this trail and found numerous species along here, such as Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Violaceous Trogons and Plain Xenops.

Rufous-tailed Jacamar (Galbula rificauda)

Violaceous Trogon (Trogon violaceus)

Violaceous Trogon (Trogon violaceus)

At the Crocodile lake itself, nocturnal Boat-billed Herons started coming out of their deep-cover daytime roosting sites as the sun began to set, although they still seemed a bit reluctant to come completely out in the open...

Plain Xenops (Xenops minutus)

Boat-billed Heron (Cochlearius cochlearius)

The male Orchard Oriole shown below was one of a flock of around 40 birds which were probably either stopping off on their way north from further south or gathering in preparation of their migration to their North American breeding grounds.

Orchard Oriole (Icterus spurius)

Grey Foxes and Agoutis could regularly be seen, especially in the early morning or late evening, around the hotel grounds.

Grey Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus)

Grey Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus)

Grey Fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus)

Agoutis are usually fairly shy animals, but the ones around Tikal were much braver than any I've seen elsewhere in the Neotropics, and if you kept quiet and your movements slow, it wasn't too difficult to get close without spooking them.

Central American Agouti (Dasyprocta punctata)

Central American Agouti (Dasyprocta punctata)

Central American Agouti (Dasyprocta punctata)

Due to the dense foliage, photography in the jungle can be very difficult and is usually quite frustrating as the birds invariably perch on a branch that it is impossible to get a clear shot of. Occasionally, however, you get lucky and not only did this White-whiskered Puffbird perch on an open branch with its freshly-caught meal of an Anole Lizard, but it also chose to sit in the only spot in the whole area that was illuminated by a shaft of sunlight that was somehow managing to penetrate the dense canopy.

White-whiskered Puffbird (Malacoptila panamensis) with a Dry-forest Anole (Anolis cupreus)

Hummingbirds were fairly sparsely distributed throughout the forest and unfortunately, out of the six species that I saw, I was only able to get decent photos of two of them.

female Canivet's Emerald (Chlorostilbon canivetii)

White-bellied Emerald (Amazilia candida)

Eye-ringed Flatbill was one of the more frequently encountered members of the Tyrant Flycatcher family and they often considerately came and perched quite close to me.

Eye-ringed Flatbill (Rhynchocyclus brevirostris)

Eye-ringed Flatbill (Rhynchocyclus brevirostris)

Black-throated Shrike-tanager (Lanio aurantius)

Yucatan Flycatcher (Myiarchus yucatanensis)

Dragonflies were fairly numerous around the park, especially around the borders of the small ponds that the Mayans created to irrigate their fields and the archaeologists have renovated so that they can again fulfill their purpose of providing a year-round supply of water.

Orthemis ferruginea (Libellulidae: Anisoptera)

Micrathyria aequalis (Libellulidae: Anisoptera)

Many-banded Daggerwing (Marpesia chiron)

unidentified lizard

Of course, it would be impossible to leave Tikal without one more photo of its spectacular monuments...

Temple I and the Central Acropolis viewed from the Northern Acropolis

24th March - 2nd April 2014 (pt.1) 2014 index 3rd - 8th April 2014