Journal archives for January 2022

January 16, 2022

Back From Guatemala

My wife and I enjoyed a relatively quick (12-day) getaway to Guatemala for a birding trip. Traveling, flying, or just being in public places in this continuing pandemic is particularly stressful, but we were traveling with a trusted group of Covid-vaccinated and tested friends and excellent local guides with a well-established itinerary. Aside from the two long and uncomfortable travel days (airports, planes, etc.), touring in Guatemala was very exciting and pleasurable.

Arranged through JB Journeys, our local guides were the incomparable (and surprisingly young) John Cahill and Josue de León L. Part of our stay was at the Community Cloud Forest Conservation (CCFC) in the highlands of central Guatemala, hosted by John’s parents, Rob and Tara Cahill. All of these folks are superb birders and naturalists. The work being done at CCFC is particularly inspiring; see the link below to their website for full details of their important efforts. One afternoon, I got a picture of John, Rob, Josue, and visiting friend Moises Rodriguez, who collectively constitute 4 of the 5 top eBirders in the country!
https://ebird.org/tx/region/GT/ebirders?yr=all&m=
My first upload from the trip is appropriately emblematic of the country and the journey:
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/105035553
We saw two male Quetzals in beautiful cloud forest habitat. I ended up with a bird list of over 300 species, including at least 27 Life Birds. That latter number may be supplemented by some "heard only" species--some glimpsed briefly--that were new to me.

Perhaps most thrilling for me were a few encounters with over-wintering Golden-cheeked Warblers in cloud forest and humid pine-oak habitat in the highlands. In very real ways, those brief sightings rounded out my life-long studies and work with the Golden-cheeked Warbler. I certainly hope to spend more time with GCWAs on their winter range, but now their full life history story has so much more meaning to me personally, bringing it “full-circle” in an ecological sense. John even took us birding in the hills above the village of Tactic, presumably close to the spot where the Golden-cheeked was originally discovered by Osbert Salvin in 1859. We saw one of our Golden-cheeked Warblers close at hand, foraging in oaks in those hills. That gave me chills just thinking about the history involved in all of that.

I will have hundreds of iNat uploads of plants, insects, and a few more birds over the next several days and weeks. Stay tuned! Here are a some relevant links to information on the tour company, guides, and other Guatemalan information:
https://www.jbjourneys.com (our U.S.-based tour company)
https://xikanel.com (John Cahill’s tour company)
https://cloudforestconservation.org (CCFC; hosted by Rob and Tara Cahill)
https://www.hotelatitlan.com (4-star hotel for our first two nights)
http://www.hposadaquetzal.com (2 night’s stay in cloud forest)
http://www.tikalnationalpark.org (our last 2 days and nights. It’s Tikal; what more can I say!)
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=6940 (all iNaturalist observations for Guatemala)
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations?place_id=6940&user_id=gcwarbler&verifiable=any (my Guatemala sightings—keep checking back)

Posted on January 16, 2022 17:33 by gcwarbler gcwarbler | 25 observations | 10 comments | Leave a comment

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