Sunday, January 30, 2011

January 29th... The day I almost died

Yesterday I went on my first real adventure here in Belize. And an adventure it was! The morning started at 5am leaving from San Ignacio and traveling through the Mountain Pine Ridge which is a huge area covered in pine trees. Our final destination was a cave system that is one of the largest in Central America.

Next we arrived at the forestry department base in the Chiquibul Forest. There we met up with the forestry department officers a.k.a. our entourage and switched vehicles. They had to accompany us because the cave is close to the border of Guatemala and has a lot of illegal logging etc.Also, the cave system and the area is closed to the public! This is not exactly an easily accessible tourist spot

At this point it was around 8am. We loaded up into two vehicles and set off down a "road." Then we got to another "road" which really wasn't a road at all. I rode in the back of the land rover and fought off trees and spiders most of the trip but it was really fun. In front of us was a guard on an ATV who had a chainsaw. Everyone had machetes : )   We had to cut fallen trees as we went.

Then we got to the trail which was about a mile all uphill it felt like. We attempted to take a short cut and ended up on the side of the cave so we had to basically hang by trees to get to the entrance. Once inside the cave we walked another hour climbing and slipping. This cave was pretty huge and it was once a Mayan sacrifice spot. We saw some bones and apparently they've found lots of mayan pottery, a prehistoric bear, and deer here.
Fresh Jaguar Prints

Our trip back was just as exciting as we were trying to beat the dark and along the way one of the vehicles ran a log over puncturing the radiator and the other got a flat tire. We did eventually make it home however around 11pm. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

January 26th, 2011

Today I spent almost an hour chasing after a Pygmy Owl on the grounds trying to get a good picture. I was unsuccessful but had a great time watching him watch me and actually saw a second one fly in for a brief moment. Keeping my fingers crossed for super cute baby pygmy owls!

This is the pic I got. If you look at it carefully you can make out his face.

And in case you want to see a good pic of one: 

We also put Elmo, one of our residents back in his large enclosure today. He seemed super excited and let us know by preening and calling out to his wild Toucan friends.

One more side note, does anyone know how I would go about bringing a dog and some pet mice back into the states with me?

Monday, January 24, 2011

January 24th 2011

Frogs everywhere!

Today we went to a Mennonite Community to buy horse food. We took a hand cranked ferry over the river and when I asked why they didn't just build a bridge the response was "then someone would be out of a job!"
All of the young men were riding dirt bikes and Ricky the grounds/head guy called them "progressive" Mennonites. 
Ricky also does the tours for the eco-lodge and he knows every bird. It's like having your own personal tour guide with you. Today he pointed out vermillion fly-catchers that are bright red, scissor tail flycatchers, grey hawks, hummingbirds, and the list goes on. 
In other news, I met one of the authors of the Lonely Planet guidebooks and his assistant. They came up to CASA to meet the residents and take a tour. They also helped me find a home for our stray horse. Of course two hours after they left the owners came by looking for the horse. Luckily he was still in our yard tearing all of the foliage to pieces and he was returned to a very distraught owner who had been looking for him for four days (apparently he came here right after running away and decided to stay). My favorite part about the stray horse is he would break himself into the pasture with our horse and then break himself out when he got bored. Stay tuned for the next season of "Prison Break."

Thursday, January 20, 2011

January 20th 2011

So the past few days have been pretty uneventful. I'm just trying to set everything up for baby bird season at this point so that I'm ready when it begins. The pigeon is starting to eat seed on his own which is wonderful! He still acts like a baby though and attacks my toes when I go into his enclosure to feed him.
Today I learned that in Belize people let their horses wander like people do at home with their dogs and cats (and on occasion cows) I met one of these wandering horses after watching him stroll past my window and then try to come into the dining room. I decided he might need a snack and a drink of water during his travels so I set out to find a carrot and fill up a huge mixing type bowl full of water. Ten minutes later I was covered in water after falling in a hole. It was so ridiculous to me, just the thought of wandering out in the yard in Belize with a mixing bowl of water after a horse that I burst into laughter. As I did the horse turned around and walked right up to me, drinking what was left of the water. I ended up filling that bowl three more times and each time I walked out of the kitchen the horse came walking towards me eying the bowl. Although I almost broke my ankle and I was completely soaked after the ordeal I was glad I could help him out during his travels.

Also, I met one of the neighbors last night:

Monday, January 17, 2011

January 17th 2011

Lots of visitors for Elmo today

I've seen this guy(or girl) the past few days sleeping outside of the  kitchen

On a side note, when I walked the trail today I must have walked into a Hummingbird's territory because he flew out of his tree and just hovered in front of my face cheeping at me. It didn't sound like a nice cheep if you catch my drift

Saturday, January 15, 2011

January 15th 2011

I ran into this lady last night on my way to my room after feeding the pigeon:

   She seemed nice but too busy to hang out and chat. 

And here is a pic I just took of the view from the "office" 

This pic is of some type of woodpecker that is stealing corn from one of the permanent resident's food dish

And last but not least, I have created a wishlist through  you can find it by searching my email
The things listed can easily be found at your local grocery store or pet store. Unfortunately I am unable to get any of the things listed and I need them to make up baby bird food. If you want to donate a few items please send them to 

  CASA Avian Support Alliance, LLC, NGO
3 Kotsaris Court
Petaluma, CA 94952


Friday, January 14, 2011

January 14th 2011 Day three

I saved my first bird yesterday. Coincidentally it is the same type of bird I saved on one of my last days in the U.S. A pigeon!! Technically I didn't really save him though. Ricky, the eco-lodge manager received him about three days before I got here. He was letting him walk around the grounds and I came across him. He was thin and begging for food! Apparently he was raised by a little boy and then some americans who gave him to Ricky to have as a pet. I am not completely sure, but I think he is still a baby. Either that or he never learned how to be a pigeon. His beak is slightly deformed, probably due to lack of a proper diet, but I think it will fix itself over time. He weighed 170 grams last night when I put him to bed. He is so thin that even after I fill up his crop he still begs for food out of hunger.

Their are two other birds here that are permanent residents and I have been spending most of my time with them. The first is Captain Jack and the second is Elmo. I will post pics soon. I made them scrambled eggs this morning with garlic and greens and it made me think of my birds at home which put a nice smile on my face.

I need to go into town to hunt down supplies for baby bird season but am still a bit too nervous to drive here, which means I would have to walk, which also seems a bit dangerous over here. Maybe tomorrow. Also, I'm going to find out when the biologist from the US is coming down. If he is coming down soon maybe my oh so generous friends can send supplies to him to send to me. It's going to be an interesting baby bird season without a microwave, a phone, or any of the supplies I need for bird diets regularly available in town.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

January 12th 2011 Day one

Today I arrived at the Casa Avian Alliance in Belize. It's about 7pm, it's getting dark, and this felt like the longest day of my life. I am exhausted, suffering from culture shock, and haven't eaten all day.  The first bird I came into contact with after landing in Belize was a boat tail grackle. We have them in the Eastern U.S. I think. They are fun to watch and helped me pass the time while I waited for my ride.