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Hummingbird Quest

Photography Tour

Honduras is the heart of Central America. The country is sandwiched between Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. It has a long coastline in the north, on the Caribbean Sea, and a small piece on the Pacific coast in the south, the Gulf of Fonseca. The capital is Tegucigalpa, often abbreviated to Tegus. San Pedro Sula is the second largest city in the country and the economic center. Other towns of any size are La Ceiba on the north coast and the twin cities La Esperanza and Intibucá in the central highlands.

Honduras is a mountainous country (the highest point being Cerro de las Minas in Celaque NP, towering 2849m above sea level), with a whole range of vegetation and habitat types: rainforest, deciduous forest, pine forest, mangrove, sandy beaches (pearly white on the north coast, volcanic black in the south), cloud forests, and so on. That diversity in ecosystems also explains the huge variety of birds (776 species to date, and more are being discovered regularly), insects, plants, mammals…

Since Honduras has not yet been discovered by the big crowds of tourists, there are still many unspoilt natural places. Here you can still spend hours or days wandering the mountains and forests without ever encountering even one other person. Honduras is therefore a paradise for any nature lover.

The Hummingbird Quest Photography Tour was created for photographers with a special interest in hummers. We will exclusively focus on these tiny little creatures, so you can make the best use of the time to find the best angle, the perfect light, that one stunning shot that might bring you fame—or at least the great feeling of having seen an excellent picture of an even better bird.

We have developed a tour that will give you good chances of seeing over three quarters of Honduras’ 43 hummingbird species. Spaces on this tour are limited to a maximum of six people to give all participants enough time and space to focus on their photography.

DEPARTURES

July 9 to 18, 2017 (option*)

*min. 4 participants are needed to guarantee departure (and max. 6)

BRIEF SUMMARY

Day 1

Pick-up at Tegucigalpa airport, transfer to hotel near La Tigra National Park

Day 2

Full day birding in La Tigra National Park

Day 3

Morning birding around Cerro de Hula, transfer to La Esperanza

Day 4

Morning birding in El Consejero Hummingbird Garden, transfer to Lake Yojoa, afternoon birding in Los Naranjos

Day 5

Full day birding in Santa Bárbara La Fuente de Vida

Day 6

Morning birding in Santa Bárbara Honduran Emerald Reserve, transfer to Rio Santiago

Day 7

Full day birding in Rio Santiago Nature Resort

Day 8

Full day birding in Pico Bonito Lodge

Day 9

Full day birding on Guanaja

Day 10

Transfer to San Pedro Sula airport

Wine-throated Hummingbird

Hummingbirds we are likely to see during this trip:

Azure-crowned Hummingbird, Band-tailed Barbthroat, Berylline Hummingbird, Black-crested Coquette, Blue-tailed Hummingbird, Blue-throated Goldentail, Brown Violetear, Cinnamon Hummingbird, Emerald-chinned Hummingbird, Garnet-throated Hummingbird, Green Violetear, Green-breasted Mango, Green-breasted Mountaingem, Green-throated Mountaingem, Honduran Emerald, Long-billed Hermit, Long-billed Starthroat, Magnificent Hummingbird, Plain-capped Starthroat, Purple-crowned Fairy, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Salvin’s Emerald, Scalybreasted Hummingbird, Slender Sheartail, Sparkling-tailed Woodstar, Stripe-tailed Hummingbird, Stripe-throated Hermit, Violet Sabrewing, Crowned Woodnymph, Violetheaded Hummingbird, White-bellied Emerald, White-eared Hummingbird, Whitenecked Jacobin, Wine-throated Hummingbird.

Day-by-day itinerary

Day 1| Pick-up at Tegucigalpa airport, transfer to hotel near La Tigra National Park

We meet you upon your arrival in Toncontin International Airport in Tegucigalpa, and bring you to our hotel near La Tigra National Park, our base for the next 3 nights. In the afternoon, we will already give the Azurecrowned and White-eared Hummingbird— and maybe even the Garnet-throated Hummingbird—a try in the gardens of the hotel.

Day 2 | Full day birding at La Tigra National Park

We spend the whole day in La Tigra National Park on our quest for one of the most beautiful hummingbirds of the trip: the amazing Wine-throated Hummingbird. The extravagant magenta gorget of the displaying male is likely to make your finger shake when you that button. They feed from the nectar of wild flowers like the Salvia cinnabarina, Salvia lavanduloides, Vaccinium poasanum, Mountain fuchsia and others. We also look for the Green-breasted Mountain-Gem, Green Violetear, White-eared Hummingbird, Amethyst-throated Hummingbird, and Garnet-throated Hummingbird and try to get a few good shots from these beauties too.

Day 3 | Morning birding around Cerro de Hula, transfer to La Esperanza

Our quest for some of the rarest Hummingbirds starts very early today. At 5:00 am, we drive to Cerro de Hula (we will have breakfast on the go), where we look for the
Magnificent Slender Sheartail and Sparkling-tailed Hummingbird, both residents of the southwestern highlands. These two long-tailed hummingbirds are rare, but Cerro de Hula in Honduras is one of the best spots to see them, as the area provides many wild flowers that attract hummingbirds. One tree in particular is very interesting to our two target species for today: it is called the Pito-tree. It produces a long, red flower that is a favorite of not only the Slender Sheartail, but also of various other hummers such as the Azure-crowned Hummingbird, Blue-tailed Hummingbird, Green Violetear, White-eared Hummingbird and Cinnamon Hummingbird. Make sure to inspect every Pito-tree for our tiny bee-like hummingbirds! After a picnic lunch we assume the drive to the central highlands around La Esperanza.

Magnificent Hummingbird

Azure-crowned Hummingbird

Hummingbird photography at El Consejero

Day 4 | Morning birding in El Consejero Hummingbird Garden, transfer to Lake Yojoa, afternoon birding in Los Naranjos

This morning, we visit Julio Bu’s Hummingbird Garden and Private Reserve in Yamaranguila, near La Esperanza. Julio is a conservationist, and has decided to convert almost the entirety of his land into a nature reserve. Beaks and Peaks has worked with him on creating a Hummingbird Garden, which after a merely a couple of months started to attract 7 different types of highland hummers,: Magnificent Hummingbird, Sparklingtailed Hummingbird, Ruby-throated Hummingbird (during migration), Azure-crowned Hummingbird, White-eared Hummingbird, Amethyst-throated Hummingbird, and Green-throated Mountaingem

The hummingbird garden is helping this very humble family attract visitors to their property, and make a living in a sustainable way, in harmony with nature.

After lunch in La Esperanza, we Lake Yojoa, Honduras’ only natural freshwater lake. Once we are settled in our hotel, we go to Los Naranjos eco-archaeological park for our afternoon birding. Here, we especially keep an eye out for Berylline Hummingbird, but we will probably also see Green-breasted Mango, Azurecrowned Hummingbird, Cinnamon Hummingbird, and Rufous-tailed Hummingbird.

Day 5 | Full day birding in Santa Bárbara La Fuente de Vida

Very early in the morning we drive up into the mountains of Santa Bárbara, where we will follow the Quetzal Trail. This is part of a conservation project we support, called “La Fuente de Vida”. The name of the project means “The Source of Life” and reflects the importance of the mountain and the forest and its natural resources for the communities of El Dorado, San Luis Planes and el Sauce. The three communities sit on the edge of the national park and are offering basic ecotourism services to diversify their income–which is now exclusively based on coffee growing – and protect their natural environment.

Up here, we will look for the Emerald-chinned Hummingbird, a spectacular creature living in the cloud forest and feeding on small insects and the nectar of fresh flowers. There are also good chances to photograph the Long-billed Hermit, Stripe-throated Hermit, Mexican Violetear, Garnet-throated Hummingbird, Green-throated Mountaingem and Violet Sabrewing. After a full day up in the mountains, with breakfast and lunch provided by the community, we return to the hotel for dinner.

Mexican Violetear

Emerald-chinned Hummingbird

Honduran Emerald

Day 6 | Morning birding in Santa Bárbara Honduran Emerald Reserve, transfer to Rio Santiago

We are up very early again today, and drive to an area of dry forest and shrub southwest of the lake, in the Santa Bárbara mountains. Our next target bird is the Honduran Emerald. This iridescent beauty is Honduras’ only endemic bird (to date). Until about five years ago, people assumed the Emerald occured solely in Olancho or Yoro, but several new populations have been discovered in recent years, including the one we are visiting today in the Santa Bárbara mountains. And luckily, the owner of the property where this gorgeous creature lives, is into conservation, and happy to welcome birders to his place! We will spend all morning searching and photographing our national birders’ pride—and potentially a few other hummers such as Salvin’s Emerald or Cinnamon Hummingbird.

After a delicious lunch served by the family that owns the property, we take off to Rio Santiago on Honduras’ north coast, where we should arrive shortly before dark.

Long-billed Starthroat

White-necked Jacobin

Violet-headed Hummingbird

Brown Violetear

Day 7 | Full day birding in Rio Santiago Nature Resort

Today we spend the whole day birding at Rio Santiago, enjoying the stunning beauty of the hummingbirds that come down to the garden. With 22 species of hummingbirds recorded here, this is Honduras’ absolute hummer paradise: Band-tailed Barbthroat, Long-billed Hermit, Stripethroated Hermit, Brown Violetear, Mexican Violetear, Purple-crowned Fairy, Greenbreasted Mango, Black-crested Coquette, Magnificent Hummingbird, Long-billed Starthroat, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Violet-headed Hummingbird, Scalybreasted Hummingbird, Violet Sabrewing, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Crowned Woodnymph, Stripe-tailed Hummingbird, White-bellied Emerald, Azure-crowned Hummingbird, Berylline Hummingbird, Blue-tailed Hummingbird, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Cinnamon Hummingbird and Blue-throated Goldentail have all been reported here.

Day 8 | Full day birding at Pico Bonito Lodge

Pico Bonito Lodge combines the adventure of the outdoors, the beauty of the rainforest, and the personal service of a boutique hotel and spa. In this luxurious setting, we enjoy yet another splendid birding day, as the area offers an array of interesting hummingbird species such as the Violet-headed Hummingbird, Purplecrowned Fairy, Stripe-tailed Hummingbird, Brown Violetear, Long-billed Hermit etc. The gardens and trails of the Lodge are well tended, and make for a beautiful setting for your photography. In between a great photoshoot, we will also enjoy a copious lunch, and return to our hotel at nightfall, shortly before dinner.

Day 9 | Full day birding on Guanaja

This morning, a small plane will bring us in about 20 minutes from La Ceiba to the island of Guanaja. This beautifully authentic island in the Caribbean sea is one of the only places—and by far the prettiest and easiest one—to observe and photograph the Canivet’s Emerald, a subspecies of Salvin’s Emerald that cannot be found on the Honduran mainland. Both from Manati restaurant or the deck at Roland’s Garden Guesthouse, we will have great views of these little guys, coming to the wealth of flowering plants and trees and some strategically placed feeders. And for sure you will appreciate the relaxed Caribbean vibe
of this location while taking heaps of gorgeous pictures. Add to that the delicious lunch served at Manati, and we are convinced you will not want to take the plane back this afternoon. However, it is time to get back to the mainland, and enjoy a final dinner together.

Day 10 | Transfer to San Pedro Sula airport

We will bring you to the international airport of San Pedro Sula in time for your flight. We hope you have had a great trip, and return home with lots of stunning pictures and wonderful memories.