Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Birding in Guatemala

This past February, I was lucky enough to go on my first birding trip - and it was in Guatemala! Birding, I've learned, is a great way to see new countries and cultures, get a lot of exercise and very little sleep.

I was invited along with 25 or so other people - videographers, tour operators, photographers, artists and writers - to attend the 2nd Annual International Bird Watching Encounter hosted by INGUAT, Guatemala's Tourism Board. For seven days, we were carted around the country to various birding destinations that included Retalhuleu on the Pacific coast, Flores in the north and the Chicabal Volcano near Quezaltenago. Guatemala is a beautiful country that is filled with black sand beaches, numerous volcanoes (active and inactive), cloud forests, Mayan ruins and friendly people - oh, and don't forget the pollo! I swear we had chicken for lunch and dinner every day. Breakfast was mostly ignored, because who wants to eat at 4 AM? That's when we got up most days. And I thought pet-bird people were an early lot with their 8 AM seminars. See, the thing is, birds are most active at dawn so that's when we had to be in the field. We hiked all morning, took a break for lunch and went back for more later. But it was worth it most days.

At Tikal, I saw so many red-lored Amazons that they actually got a little boring. I was on the hunt for a mealy, which finally came into sight while at the top of a ruin in the middle of the Park. It was perfect. I also saw white-fronted Amazons, Pacific parakeets, yellow-naped Amazons, collared aracaris, toucans and orange-chinned parakeets. No wild scarlet macaws though. Oh well, on the next trip?

I'll post more photos as I get them. This one was taken by my new friend, Mae Cheung, who I met on the trip. She was the only other non-birder on the trip, so we hung together while the rest were building their life lists at a rate of 5 per second. Of course, everyone was generous with their spotting scopes, extra binocs (mine broke in my luggage) and jackets, so I certainly felt one of the group despite my limited - er, no - experience.


Check out more info on birding in Guatemala here.

So now the editorial team has been to Peru, Brazil and Guatemala. Let's do an ecotour closer to home next year -- how about Mexico and Amazons?
Sounds like a great trip. When is the team going to visit the Outback and see all the wild cockatiels?
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