Jeremy and I said goodbye to Phil, Katherine, and Kitty at the Belize airport, and then headed straight to the zoo. We had just finished a wonderful week of birding and working with Belize Audubon on the official Forsyth Audubon trip.  Phil and I wrote a series of posts about the trip on the Forsyth Audubon blog.  I wanted to stay longer than eight days, so I was very happy that Forsyth Audubon President and fellow Belize traveler, Jeremy Reiskind, also wanted a few more days in Belize.  The Belize Zoo calls itself “The best little zoo in the world” and we agree.  It was clean, interesting, and the animals appeared to be cared for very well.

Spider Monkey at zoo

Spider Monkey at The Belize Zoo

Monkey sign at zoo

The zoo had wonderful signs like this everywhere!

An added bonus was the many wild birds seen at the zoo.  Many enjoy sharing fruit served to the zoo animals.  One of our favorite birds was a Common Tody-Flycatcher who flitted about just a few feet from the platform by the Howler Monkeys.  We appreciated the Rufous-browed Peppershrike, too, a life bird for both of us.  We could have stayed all day, but we wanted to reach duPlooy’s before dark.

Common Tody-flycatcher

Common Tody-flycatcher

DuPlooy’s Jungle Lodge is located on the Macal River in the Cayo District near San Ignacio, close to the Guatemala border.  DuPlooy’s had the best accommodations of the entire trip, the food was excellent, and birds were easy to see at the fruit feeders on the deck by the bar/restaurant and in the adjacent Belize Botanic Gardens.  On our first day, we just relaxed and enjoyed exploring the lodge area.  New life birds that we found for ourselves included Gartered Trogon and Black-crowned Tityra.  I was also thrilled to finally see Belize’s national bird, Keel-billed Toucan, a life bird for me, but one that Jeremy had seen previously in Nicaragua.

Collared Aracari

Collared Aracari

Yellow-winged Tanager

Yellow-winged Tanager

The second day, we opted for a little help and spent the morning with local guide, Philip Mai.  The roads were difficult due to the unusual amount of recent rain, so Philip made up a new route.

Olive-throated Parakeets

Olive-throated Parakeets

Jeremy and I enjoyed the teamwork with Philip.  And, Philip was so pleased with our results that he might add our route to his regular itinerary.  Special birds that morning included flyover wild Muscovy Ducks that we all saw well.  Olive-throated Parakeets made several appearances, including a pair right over our heads preening each other.  We found both Yellow-backed and Yellow-tailed Orioles.  For me, the highlight was a field with at least a dozen Fork-tailed Flycatchers, the bird that I’d most wanted to see.  It was magical watching them float over the field foraging and then perching on sturdy weeds.  That morning I added seven birds to my life list.

Fork-tailed Flycatcher

Fork-tailed Flycatcher

Fork-tailed Flycatcher

Fork-tailed Flycatcher

I knew that duPlooy’s caters to birders, but I didn’t expect the extent of help that we received.  One afternoon on my way from my room to the bar/deck, a woman with a laundry basket on her hip ran after me calling, “Ma’am, ma’am, would you like to see a Squirrel Cuckoo?”  Of course I did and the woman showed me exactly where the bird was.

Squirrel Cuckoo

Squirrel Cuckoo

A fun part of the daily routine at duPlooy’s is feeding the Kinkajous.  I just happened to be on the deck at 5:30 one afternoon when an employee handed out bananas.  After all the kids got one, one banana was left, which was handed to me.  Two Kinkajous came in for the treats and I stood back and watched the kids feed them.  After the kids had given away all of their bananas, I stepped up and began feeding the Kinkajous.  Then, all of a sudden, a third Kinkajou seemed to realize that he was late to dinner and came tearing down the tree and onto the deck.  He grabbed the small piece of banana from my left hand and then crawled onto my arm to get to the banana in my right hand!

Feeding the Kinkajous at duPlooy's

Feeding the Kinkajous at duPlooy’s. Photo by Cecelia VanHof.

Our three days at duPlooy’s went too fast and I was sad to leave. But I was also excited to head north towards La Milpa Ecolodge and Research Center for the last leg of our trip where more birds and adventures awaited.

Variable Cracker - Hamadryas feronia

Variable Cracker – Hamadryas feronia

Dirce Beauty - Colobura dirce

Dirce Beauty – Colobura dirce

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