Birding in Guatemala
We'd come from all corners of the globe to take part in this unique and wonderful program sponsored by INGUAT (Instituto Guatemalteco de Tourismo) and their partners. Birders all united by a common avian thread!
I arrived too late to really appreciate any birds that first night. All I was able to muster in the failing light was a couple Great-tailed Grackles as we were shuttled to the luxurious Vista Real Hotel in Guatemala City. I still appreciated the glorious accommodations, and was thrilled to meet some of the participants I hadn't met, and reacquaint myself with others I'd met in the past. However, as the logo at top implies it was really all about the birds for me! So I'd have to wait a bit longer for my personal highlights to begin.....
The following morning we awoke at 0-dark thirty and boarded one of three flights to Flores in the state of Peten in northern Guatemala to begin our first official segment of the trip. It was overcast and Guatemala's natural beauty still lay hidden from me as we flew north through the clouds and mist. As surely as some wish to be pinched to prove they are truly awake, I eagerly awaited some proof that I'd ACTUALLY arrived in Guatemala.
We arrived at Flores and were immediately shuffled to a grand breakfast at a nearby hotel with a marsh behind. They'd put out an amazing spread for breakfast including the "fantastico" crocodile pastry above, but in typical birder fashion we all shot past the food and were drawn immediately to the marshy edges behind. It was then that I knew I was clearly with kindred spirits, despite the international boundaries and miles that typically separated us!
Upon entering the courtyard surrounding the pool a Yellow-throated Warbler chipped from the ornamental palms here. Green & Little-blue Herons, fed at the marsh edge alongside Common Moorhens and Purple Gallinules. I admittedly had not ever seen one using those big toes to cling to a chain link fence, but otherwise there was nothing new. Nothing that would definitively tell me that I "wasn't in Kansas anymore" (or Florida as the case may be). So, I continued to look for my sure fire proof, something I wouldn't see at home. Something to let me be sure I'd truly arrived south of the border.... and then it was there. Someone called out "Northern Jacana at the edge of the close mud!"
Northern Jacana digiscoped with Leica scope, Peten, Guatemala 03/02/08
Sure enough there it was the first hint of something undeniably different, and sure fire proof that I'd finally arrived. The first of many with more to come. So stay tuned!