Monday, 13 October 2014

Belizean Rhapsody

White-necked Jacobin

This August, my family and I went on a jam-packed, adventure wildlife holiday lead by Nick Baker to Belize, to see a wide variety of flora and fauna. Belize is a small country the size of Wales, located in Central America, largely covered in rainforest and has a Caribbean feel to it. We explored the Rainforest for the first week, in search of snakes, gigantic trees and plants and magnificent, brightly coloured birds. For the second week we took an exciting trip on a speed boat to a Caribbean Sea island, a picturesque place, rich in marine life and a good variety of birds.

Central American Whiptail
 The Rainforest:

Our excursions involved walks through the rainforest; each walk was different and brought new and interesting species. Everywhere you looked you would see wildlife. We met thousands of Leaf Cutter ant trails; these were extraordinary, hundreds of ants in a line to-ing and fro-ing from the canopy of the rainforest to their nests carrying leaves, weighing more than their own weight.
Coral Snake
There was nectar feeders placed around the lodge which attracted beautiful and vibrantly coloured hummingbirds during the day and bats during the night. I was fascinated by the mesmeric, beating of the wings on these small creatures.
One of the highlights of our morning walk was crossing paths with a beautiful, but deadly Coral snake silently, slithering through the grass. It soon began to flee away from our group, as although it is considered dangerous, it is not an aggressive species.

After dark lots of moths, crickets, grasshoppers and wasps, were attracted to a moth trap (a white sheet which was illuminated by a very bright light), so we could examine them closely to learn about the insects from Nick. Also scorpions, tarantulas and geckos could be seen.
We were lucky enough to spot a Kinkajou high up in a tree on a night walk, a small, secretive mammal, rarely seen, that mainly feeds on fruit. Also a Snapping Turtle sat in the small stream, as well as a Cane Toad. We also found a Cat snake hiding in a crevice, protecting itself from any predators (seen on a night walk, as it is nocturnal.)
We saw many other creatures on the night walk (too many to list!) but it was fascinating and so much fun!
We saw a wide variety of birds on the morning walks including Woodpeckers, Trogons, Honeycreepers and Hummingbirds. We even got to see a Keel-billed Toucan! This is Belize’s national bird. 

The Island, South Water Caye:
Bluehead Wrasse
We then travelled on to the tranquil island of South Water Caye. After a windswept trip on the boat to the island we went straight into a refreshing snorkelling tour. We did snorkelling every day and even a night snorkel. As soon as we entered the water on our night snorkel thousands of tiny fish would swim around your body and peck at you, it was a marvellous thing to experience. It felt like once I had entered that water I was in a completely different world, full of strange life forms.
Brown Boobys
On our numerous snorkels we saw seahorses, a Loggerhead turtle and a Hawksbill Turtle swimming past us, a Nurse Shark, Spotted Eagle rays, Stingrays and Sand rays, a Porcupine fish, a bat fish, octopuses, and many different species of fish. The coral was in excellent condition and very beautiful.
On the first day we got a wonderful view of an Osprey soaring over the sea and off into the distance. It soon returned and it became a daily sighting, which was lovely to see. We saw Turnstones, Magnificent Frigatebirds, Brown booby’s, Brown pelicans, Neo-tropic Cormorants, Grackles and Yellow Crowned Night Herons. At night lots of Hermit crabs, small and large, would wander around and leave amazing footprints in the sand. The younger children in our group would race the crabs. It was great to see them getting so close to wildlife and having fun.

Nick setting a camera trap up
Overall, I would say I had the most fantastic trip and experience. I have gained a lot of knowledge from the trip. Nick's knowledge was outstanding and he also brought a lot of fun to the experience. It also made me realise how much I love wildlife, and not just UK species, but anywhere in the world. It also taught me even more how precious the habitats are; the rainforests and coral reef, which are very special places that we need to care for. We need to support conservation in these areas as much as possible and Eco-tourism has an important contribution to make.

1 comment:

  1. Nice words Evie; it sounds like you enjoyed yourself as much as I did. Good luck with the bird ringing, I look forward to hearing all about it in the future. I have no doubts our paths will cross again in the future. You and your sister Abbie are the bright young future of conservation and natural history, meeting you and spending time with all the young families inspired me a lot as well. Good luck and thanks for this post. My blog is still in progress it got eaten by Apple iOS 8 upgrade! All my work gone