Honduras: The Lodge at Pico Bonito Feb 07—14, 2015

Posted by Brian Gibbons

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Brian Gibbons

Brian Gibbons grew up in suburban Dallas where he began exploring the wild world in local creeks and parks. Chasing butterflies and any animal that was unfortunate enough t...

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We enjoyed fine weather for the duration of our trip to the beautiful Lodge at Pico Bonito. Early arrivers had to settle for absolute downpour for their first couple of days in Honduras. We even lucked into a cloudy morning in the normally hot and dry Aguan Valley of the interior. Fruit trees of a variety of species were luring the Lovely Cotingas into view, and on our first morning we were overrun with these beautiful denizens of the forests of Pico Bonito National Park. Cruising the mangrove-lined lagoons of Cuero y Salado Refuge got us close to Howler Monkeys, tiger-herons, and Boat-billed Herons. Rio Santiago Nature Resort produced hummingbirds galore, as usual. Lancetilla added tanagers, warblers, and trogons to the mix of our trip, which topped out at 191 species.

Lovely Cotinga

Lovely Cotinga— Photo: Brian Gibbons

 

On our first morning we had excellent luck with trogons, tallying all four species that are right at the lodge: Collared, Gartered, Slaty-tailed, and Black-headed. Interrupting our viewing of the Lovely Cotingas were a Blue-crowned Motmot and a Slate-colored Solitaire that begged for attention. As the activity waned at this grove of fruit trees, a White Hawk soared up across the valley of the Rio Coloradito. Keel-billed Toucans were often in the area too, but proved tough to get a great look at.

Cuero y Salado train and boat trips proved very productive for birding and a very cooperative croc. A troop of Mantled Howler Monkeys lounged about as some dined on leaves, allowing point-blank views of these lethargic primates. Tiger-herons were sighted a couple of times in the red mangroves of the refuge. In one mangrove tunnel we spied a pair of American Pygmy Kingfishers delivering tiny minnows to their young that were tucked into a tunnel they had excavated into the upturned root ball of a fallen tree. Our prize of the swamp had to be a very cooperative Sungrebe that everyone saw well; these birds are excellent at melting into their flooded forest homes. Also seen during our day were Northern Jacana, Gray-necked Wood-Rail, Mangrove Cuckoo, Wood Storks, and tons of herons and egrets in the flooded fields and marsh. For some the highlight was the rickety burra (a small narrow-gauge railcar that took us to the lagoon). Again we relaxed and birded the lodge grounds in the afternoon.

American Pygmy Kingfisher, female

American Pygmy Kingfisher, female— Photo: Brian Gibbons

 

An early departure was necessary for the long drive over to the interior Aguan Valley, home of Honduras’s only endemic bird, the Honduran Emerald; we found many easily in the reserve, but I continue to be disturbed by the amount of grazing I see in the reserve each year. White-bellied Wren and White-lored Gnatcatchers also added to the diversity of this unique arid landscape. After we admired a Boat-billed Flycatcher, we were treated to a delicious lunch in a local woman’s home.

Rio Santiago Nature Resort is known for its hundreds of hummingbird feeders. This year they did not disappoint, giving us Band-tailed Barbthroat, Scaly-breasted Hummingbird, and Green-breasted Mango among the ten species that regularly visit the feeders this time of year. After a short hike into the forest we found a Keel-billed Motmot calling away, and after some searching we got decent scope views looking up a steep slope. Flycatchers, tanagers, warblers, trogons, aracaris, and more all call the forest here home, and we saw a great variety of birds. Along the Rio Santiago we got good scope views of the Amazon Kingfisher.

Honduran Emerald

Honduran Emerald— Photo: Brian Gibbons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Near Tela we visited the Lancetilla Botanical Garden famed for its collection of orchids and other tropical flora. The roadsides gave us great birding and we enjoyed the Montezuma Oropendola colony that was under reconstruction, under the watchful eyes of Giant Cowbirds, eager to shirk their parental responsibilities. Passerini’s and Crimson-collared tanagers brightened up the roadside vegetation with their glowing reds. Thick-billed Seed-Finch, while not stunning, was a good find too. Rufous-tailed Jacamar came out briefly for a look. As it was getting towards noon we came upon a great flock near a stream. White-collared Manakin, Worm-eating Warbler, flycatchers, woodcreepers, and even a Plain Xenops moved through as a throng. Eventually the birds moved off and we had to return to the lodge for another fantastic meal.

The Lodge at Pico Bonito provides an excellent base from which to explore northern Honduras. We enjoyed the comforts and excellent food of this top-rated lodge. Each day during lunch the hummingbirds were zipping all over the garden, and the Melostomes were full of tanagers, euphonias, flycatchers, and warblers. I hope you enjoyed Honduras, and I look forward to our next birding adventure.