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Birds of Lake Yojoa and the Honduran north coast

“Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation has asked Beaks and Peaks to develop a number of tours in Honduras to help us with our conservation efforts for Missouri birds. Many of Missouri’s birds migrate south to the beautiful habitats of Honduras and other Central American countries. Over the past couple decades, Missouri ornithologists in partnership with biologists from other states and countries have worked diligently to prevent the loss of bird habitat and migratory pathways both in the United States of America and in Central America. Our partnership with Beaks and Peaks is part of our efforts to continue funding and raising awareness of the importance of this work. Each time you purchase one of these Conservation trips, you are contributing toward the ongoing protection of bird habitat. I am excited about the adventure ahead of us!” – Cynthia Hawcroft, Research/Foundation Associate, Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation

This short trip offers a quick but rich introduction to birding in Honduras. In only one week, you will visit several of our country’s top birding locations. From gorgeous Lake Yojoa and its adjacent mountain ranges of Santa Bárbara and Cerro Azul Meámbar to the rainforests of Pico Bonito and the lovely islands of the Caribbean coast.

This is intense trip; with a high birding pace, some long drives, and a few rather strenuous walks in Santa Bárbara and Pico Bonito (think: pretty steep and potentially slippery). But if you are up to it, it will be very rewarding: thanks to the variety in habitat types you will visit during this trip, you will be going home with an impressive bird list, and a truly authentic experience in an off-the-beaten-track — yet rapidly upcoming — birding and nature destination!

DEPARTURES

January 6-13, 2018 (option*)

*min. 4 participants are needed to guarantee departure (and max. 8)

BRIEF SUMMARY

Day 1

Pickup at San Pedro Sula airport, transfer to Cerro Azul Meámbar NP, birding around PANACAM Lodge

Day 2

Birding in eco-archaeological park Los Naranjos & La Ensenada

Day 3

Birding at La Fuente de Vida, an ecotourism project in the Santa Bárbara mountains

Day 4

Birding in eco-finca Luna del Puente, transfer to Pico Bonito NP, birding around the hotel

Day 5

Birding in Rio Santiago Nature Resort

Day 6

Birding in Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge

Day 7

Birding on Guanaja

Day 8

Transfer to San Pedro Sula airport

Crimson-collared Tanager

This short trip offers a quick but rich introduction to birding in Honduras. In only one week, you will visit several of our country’s top birding locations. From gorgeous Lake Yojoa and its adjacent mountain ranges of Santa Bárbara and Cerro Azul Meámbar to the rainforests of Pico Bonito and the Caribbean coast. This is an intense trip; the birding pace is fast, we will have quite a bit of driving to do, and the walking in Santa Bárbara and Pico Bonito can be tough because of the steep and sometimes slippery terrain. But if you are up to it, it will be very rewarding. Thanks to the variety in habitat types you will visit during this trip, you have great chances of going home with a rather impressive bird list.

Day-by-day itinerary

Day 1 | Pickup at San Pedro Sula airport, transfer to Cerro Azul Meámbar NP, birding around PANACAM Lodge

After we pick you up at San Pedro Sula airport, we drive to Cerro Azul Meámbar National Park near Lake Yojoa. We settle into our hotel and go out for some afternoon birding around PANACAM Lodge. We may already get some real treats such as the Keel-billed Motmot, Black-crested Coquette, Barred Forest- Falcon, Collared Araçari, Blue-crowned Motmot, Masked Tityra, Crimson-collared Tanager, Blue-crowned Chlorophonia, White-throated Thrush, Long-billed Hermit, Violet Sabrewing and more.

Day 2 | Birding in eco-archaeological park Los Naranjos & La Ensenada

This morning we visit the eco-archaeological park Los Naranjos on the northern shore of Lake Yojoa. It is a proto-Lenca historical site – though besides the artefacts in the museum you will mostly see so-called ‘tumuli’ that give away the underlying manmade structures, because it was decided not to excavate the site to keep the remnants from desintegrating. Apart from being an interesting historical place, Los Naranjos is also a great location for birding! We keep our eyes and ears open for Black-crowned Tityra’s, Green-backed Sparrows, Rufousbreasted Spinetails, Grey-breasted Crakes, Gartered Trogons, Laughing Falcons, Collared Forest-Falcons and others.

In the afternoon we head to the southern tip of the Lake, a place called La Ensenada or Pito Solo. The combination of the tall trees bordering the road and wetlands in the back make it an extremely varied birding area. We look out for all sorts of tanagers, orioles, warblers and vireos, and for Tricolored Herons, Spotted Rails, Masked Ducks, Ospreys, Black-bellied and Fulvous Whistling-Ducks etc.

Green-backed Sparrow

Day 3 | Birding at La Fuente de Vida, an ecotourism project in the Santa Bárbara mountains

Today we are headed to Santa Bárbara National Park. We visit the La Fuente de Vida ecotourism project that Beaks and Peaks is supporting. The communities up here are trying to protect a beautiful parch of forest for the future. They have decided to make the change from exclusive coffee growing to providing sustainable tourism services. They have for example built a series of beautiful trails that offer excellent birdwatching opportunities.

Very early in the morning, we drive up to the communities. That should take us about an hour. Upon arrival we enjoy breakfast with one of the local families and after that we start looking for birds such as the Prevost’s Ground-Sparrow, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Resplendent Quetzal, Emerald-chinned Hummingbird, White-breasted Hawk, Green-throated MountainGem, Buffy-crowned Woodpartridge, Slate-colored Solitaire, Rusty Sparrow, Collared Trogon, Spotted Woodcreeper, Ruddy Foliage-Gleaner, Scaly- throated Foliage-Gleaner, Buff-throated Foliage-Gleaner, Black-headed Nightingale- Thrush, Chestnut-capped BrushFinch, White-naped Brush-Finch, Spot-breasted Wren etc. This is probably one of the most rewarding birding hotspots around – and you know you are supporting a great social and ecological project at the same time!

Prevost’s Ground-Sparrow

White-breasted Hawk

White-collared Manakin

Day 4 | Birding in eco-finca Luna del Puente, transfer to Pico Bonito NP, birding around the hotel

On our way to the north coast, we stop at one of the most diverse locations for birding. Eco-finca Luna del Puente is a coffee and cocoa farm and a private nature reserve. Its main objective is protecting the environment by raising awareness of biodiversity and applying sustainable agroforestry practices. The finca has also created some excellent birdwatching trails, which we are more than happy to explore. We will be on the lookout for Northern Potoos, Green Jays, Blue-throated Goldentails, Tody Motmots, White-collared Manakins, Prevost’s Ground-Sparrows, Yellow-billed Caciques and more.

As the owner of the Finca, Cecilia, also serves an excellent breakfast, we enjoy a traditional Honduran típico before taking back to the road and continuing our way to Pico Bonito National Park.

Upon arrival at our next destination, there should still be enough daylight for a short afternoon bird walk around our hotel.

Day 5 | Birding in Rio Santiago Nature Resort

Rio Santiago Nature Resort is also known as the ‘Hummingbird Paradise’ of Honduras. Dozens of feeders and flowering plants around the bar and restaurant area indeed attract hundreds of hummers of to date 22 different species – and they don’t seem to be bothered by human presence at all. However, before we indulge in lazily observing these tiniest of creaters buzzing around our heads, we put on our boots and hike up the hill in search for Black-crested Coquettes, Keel-billed Motmots, Bright-rumped Atillas, Great and Little Tinamous, Black-headed Trogons, Spectacled Owls, Redcapped Manakins and many, many more.

Black-crowned Antshrike

After this effort, we treat ourselves to a hearty lunch – and as promised some more relaxed afternoon birding in the gardens and along the lower trails of the property.

Day 6 | Birding in Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge

On the schedule today is a visit to Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge. We board the only train that is still functioning in Honduras – it dates back to the times of the ‘Banana republic’ and was indeed used to transport bananas. What remains now is are two rickety little wagons racing over crooked rails. Lots of fun. And excellent birding opportunities along the way: Glossy Ibis, Bat Falcon, Ferruginous Pgymy Owl, Black-cowled Oriole, Crested Caracara.

At the visitors’ centre, we board a motorboat that will take us onto the rivers and canals of the Cuero y Salado Mangroves. Top species that we will try to get good looks at here include Agami Heron, White-necked Puffbird, American Pygmy Kingfisher, Black-crowned Antshrike and more. Lunch will be prepared by a local family upon our return from the boat ride.

In the afternoon we go for another hike, this time to Río Zacate. This is a great place to look for Crested Owls and Tody Motmots. Let’s hope they are cooperative today!

Day 7 | Birding on Guanaja

We fly to Guanaja today for some caribbean island birding! Here, you can get species you won’t find anywhere on the Honduran mainland. Think Canivet’s Emerald, Yucatan Woodpecker, Yellow-naped Parrots, Yucatan Vireo or Rufous-necked Woodrail! All of that against the background of Guanaja’s gorgeous white sandy beaches and turquoise waters!

Late afternoon, we take the little plane back to the Honduran mainland in time for our farewell dinner.

Day 8 | Transfer to San Pedro Sula Airport

We bring you to San Pedro Sula airport in time for your flight back home.