Wednesday, December 19, 2012

More highlights from Honduras

In addition to birding around the lodge grounds at The Lodge at Pico Bonito, we visited some other places in Honduras that are great birding and wildlife watching locations: 

Rio Santiago
James at The Lodge at Pico Bonito told us about this great place not far from the lodge.  This is a new place that offers cabins and a restaurant, and is about ready to open to the public.  Its a beautiful property that extends through various elevations and forests and has some nice trails.  Here we found our Keel-billed Motmot and Rufous-tailed Jacamar, as well as Blue-crowned Motmot, White-collared Manakin, Spot-breasted Wren, White-breasted Wood-Wren, Rufous Mourner, Long-billed Gnatwren, Great Tinamou, Olive-backed Euphonia, Golden-crowned Warbler, Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, Passerini's Tanager, Chestnut-headed Oropendola, Black-faced Grosbeak & Worm-eating Warbler.  The owner (who is Canadian) has also manufactured over 100 hummingbird feeders that attract huge numbers of Violet-crowned Woodnymphs, Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds, White-necked Jacobins, Violet Sabrewings, Long-billed Hermits, and even a Band-tailed Barbthroat.
Keel-billed Motmot
Keel-billed Motmot, Electron carinatum
Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge
This wildlife refuge sits along the Caribbean coast and is a matrix of rivers and waterways that supports extensive mangrove ecosystems.  To get here, we took a narrow-gauge rail train from the town of La Union for 9 km into the refuge, and then hopped into a motorboat to head out into the rivers.  From here we spotted an abundance of waterbird life, including several species of herons, anhingas, kingfishers, some raptors including Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture and Bat Falcon, and Sungrebes!  A very enjoyable afternoon.  
Mantled Howler
Mantled Howler, Alouatta palliata

Rio Aguan Honduran Emerald Preserve

Honduras has one endemic species of bird - the critically endangered Honduran Emerald hummingbird.  The preserve is located directly south of Pico Bonito National Park and is a dry forest habitat.  Our day started out very early (4:00 am!) but it was well worth it.  Once we got to the preserve a short walk into the protected area turned up several Honduran Emeralds, which feed on the tiny cactus flowers in the area.  Other highlights included Lesser Nighthawk, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Brown-crested Flycatcher and Turquoise-browed Motmot in the preserve, and Altamira Oriole, Painted Bunting, White-fronted Parrot and a very cute pair of White-lored Gnatcatchers en route to the preserve.  Well worth the long trip!

Honduran Emerald
Honduran Emerald, Amazilia luciae
Lancetilla Botanical Gardens
One of the largest botanical gardens in Central America, Lancetilla Botanical Gardens is a nice greenspace in north central Honduras.  We started out walking this short trail off to the right just past the entrance into the gardens, which was abundant with bird life.  Raptors were a common sight overhead, including Short-tailed Hawk, Gray Hawk, Roadside Hawk, Common Black-Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, and in the forest we spotted a Laughing Falcon and Black Hawk-Eagle.  We had a quick glimpse of a Ruddy Crake as it darted across the path.  Other highlights included Yellow-bellied Tyrannulet, Black-headed Trogon, Smoky-brown Woodpecker and Yellow-winged Tanager.  
Keel-billed Toucan
Keel-billed Toucan, Ramphastos sulfuratus
We got a nice taste of Honduras and its wildlife during our time there.  I already look forward to going back, visiting the areas we have been to again and exploring new areas - Copan Mayan ruins and the cloud forests in western Honduras, as well as the islands.  Check out Natura Tours for information on tours to Honduras and other destinations!

~ Jenn 

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