Belize's Hidden Treasures: Mar 04—10, 2018
Pook's Hill & Black Rock Lodge
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Two outstanding lodges offering some of the best forest birding and raptor watching in Belize; many local specialties including Orange-breasted Falcon and Ornate Hawk-Eagle; day-trip to Mountain Pine Ridge; Mayan ruins at Xunantunich.
In western Belize’s Cayo District, two outstanding lodges, Pook’s Hill and Black Rock, serve as a perfect base for exploring the Maya Mountain foothills and Mountain Pine Ridge. This interesting area has a different mix of species than lowland Belize, including many regional specialties and possibilities for several very rare species.
Pook’s Hill lies in a private reserve along the Roaring River, adjoining the vast Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve, and offers some of the best forest birding in all of Belize. A full day exploring the trails here will seem barely adequate to soak in the bounty of this fabulous place. From before dawn when calls of Great Tinamou and Spectacled Owl echo through the forest, to mid-morning when White Hawk and King Vulture circle overhead, we’ll amass an amazing list of species. Some highlights may include Great Curassow, Purple-crowned Fairy, Wedge-tailed Sabrewing, Great Antshrike, Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, Royal and Ruddy-tailed flycatchers, and Rufous Mourner. At St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park we’ll search for Nightingale Wren and Tody Motmot, as well as such dazzling beauties as White-collared Manakin, Passerini’s Tanager, and Orange-billed Sparrow.
A short distance to the west, Black Rock Lodge is one of a kind. Operating off-grid, Black Rock uses micro-hydroelectric and solar power to run their facilities, and is also extremely comfortable. From the main veranda, a grand vista over the Macal River Gorge offers some of the best raptor watching in Belize, including resident Orange-breasted Falcon and Ornate Hawk-Eagle, and often eye level Swallow-tailed Kites! When we tear ourselves away from the veranda, excellent birding along the trails and entrance road may yield Spotted Wood-Quail, Collared Trogon, Emerald Toucanet, and Slate-headed Tody-Flycatcher. A day-trip to Mountain Pine Ridge will bring us to a whole new set of birds, such as Azure-crowned Hummingbird, Green Jay, Sedge and Cabanis’s wrens, Grace’s and Rufous-capped warblers, Rusty Sparrow, Yellow-backed and Yellow-tailed orioles, and Black-headed Siskin.
To make things even more exciting, this itinerary allows reasonable possibilities for some true rarities including Solitary Eagle, Uniform Crake, Pheasant Cuckoo, Stygian Owl, Black-crested Coquette, Lovely Cotinga, and Blue Seedeater. We won’t see all of these, but we’ll certainly look for them!
Based in two lodges with comfortable rooms and very good food; hilly environments; much walking on level to uneven terrain; warm, sunny climate.