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The Last Guatemala Post

Thursday, April 10, 2008

This lousy photo of the only bat falcon I saw in Guatemala is symbolic for me. The bat falcon is a bird I'd always wanted to see well, to luxuriate in for a little while. Thanks to some bad beans, I didn't get to see the bat falcon BOTB and Jeff Bouton digiscoped in Flores. I didn't get to go to Tikal, or take two other birding excursions on the schedule. But I did get to sit on my balcony and see what was going on with a pair of white-fronted Amazons, to watch a Guatemalan golden-fronted woodpecker excavate its nest cavity, to sneak up on a ringed kingfisher, to listen for the black-headed trogon and see his powder-blue eyering, to watch a rufous-tailed hummingbird sing his love song. It was terrific. Would I have traded it all for Tikal, for the company of husband and friends? Well, I couldn't, so I wouldn't. The moral: Lingering is sometimes just what we need (even if dysentery isn't!) Taking in one small scene (especially in lowland Guatemala) can be more rich and fulfilling than walking miles and ticking off bird after bird, but never getting to know any one bird for more than a moment. Lingering suits me fine.

A baby basilisk bites off a hibiscus flower.
He swallows it down, then poses in the sun. Who knew they ate flowers? Basilisks, or "Jesus lizards," are able to run over the surface of the water, light as the Holy Spirit.
A giant oncidium floops over with bloom.
A black-crowned tityra grunts, letting me know he is there. What a pretty little cotinga he is.I find the black-crowned tityra more elegant and cleanly beautiful than the more common masked tityra, with its beefy-red face. Here's another view of the male masked tityra. It's pronounced tit-TYE-rah, even though I thought they were tittyrahs as a freshman in college, before I heard anyone say the name.
A blue-gray tanager thinks about biting into a succulent fruit.
A pale-vented pigeon pants in the afternoon sun.
I was surprised to find a lone red-lored Amazon hanging out by the macaw enclosure, idly clipping off leaves and branches as it whiled part of a day away. I wondered if it was a refugee from captivity, since parrots almost always travel in pairs. Or perhaps, like the white-fronted Amazons of an earlier post, this is a male whose mate is incubating, and he's passing the time until the eggs hatch. I like that theory better. He's got a nice clean tail, undamaged by the interior of the nest cavity, which bolsters the evidence that he might be a mated male, batchin' it for the day. If only he could talk! but then he'd be somebody's pet.Continuing the psittacine theme, a gorgeous white-crowned Pionus fetched up in a treetop. I found myself wondering if all these lone soldiers were males, since it was the start of the nesting season and females were likely to be on eggs all day.

Just look at the color combinations in this glorious bird. Pink eye skin, steel-blue head and neck, bronzy shoulder, leaf-green wing coverts, sea-blue primaries, all underpinned by pink panties! and, I'd note, a perfect tail...
Hey, hon! Happy to bedazzle y'uns!

I most like my parrots on the wing.

As I made my slow way along a gravel road, a smallish buteo swept up and over my head. A roadside hawk! (Buteo magnirostris).
Roadside disapproval. Hey, Mr. Magnirostris, I'm just livin' my life, takin' pictures.

Yes, I was having tons o' fun. A steady pecking near the forest floor resolved into the same lineated woodpecker I had tried to photograph from my balcony--this time in subdued, but better light. Stealing beauty:We'd have to return to the States soon, and while I was sad to have missed the last few days of hanging out with everyone else, I didn't feel the least bit cheated or sad. The birds of Guatemala had stepped in to make sure I had a glorious time. Until next time, pajaritos. Hasta luego.
To all my dear friends in Guatemala: Ana, Marco, Hector, Kenneth, Hugo, Hilda, Claudia, Olga, Irene, Bitty, Estellita, Andy, Monica...thank you once again. I hope birdwatchers from all corners of the world treat themselves to some time in Guatemala with you. No finer people on the planet!
photo by Lisa White

This post is for my DOD, who never left the United States, but knew how to linger, and appreciate what he'd been given. He was born on June 18, 1912, two months after the Titanic set sail, and died April 10, 1994, the same date she sank. I planted snap peas and four kinds of greens, gladioli and tuberoses in his honor today. Called my mom from the cordless phone while standing out in the garden and told her I loved her.


Sweet post, J.

Here's to DOD, enjoy the peas! He would love to linger at your place. He probably is.

Thanks for more intriguing photos of wonderful birds from Guatemala, but I thank you more for your sweet remembrance of your DOD. I remember your April 10 post from last year, Julie. Peas. In the dirt. Were you on the mower last year? Yes, I think you were. Hugs to you.


Another great post.
Beautiful pictures and words from the heart.
Blessings from this side of the world :)

It's been such a feast for the eyes to be on this journey with you Julie. Thanks so much for letting those of us, who will probably never go there, be a part of a magical time. I know your dad is just busting at the seams with pride about the woman his little girl became. Hugs to you.

What a great series of posts. I'm so sorry that you got sick, but I was transported by those "lingering" photos. Today's lineated woodpecker shots are amazing.

And what a tribute to your father.
Thanks for sharing that.

I'm looking forward to your Ithaca posts, especially because I'll be there soon.

Julie, one of those lineated photos looks like a watercolor. It's really beautiful.

I know what you mean by DOD. Mine was born April 11,1932 and passed away April 20, 2007.
Here's to our DODads.

I loved reading all of your posts about Guatemala. I enjoyed all the birds of course but really liked the other wildlife you showed us. Especially the lizard.

Lovely blog :-)

You have brought Guatemala's beauty home to these pages and posts, Julie. I do think you captured the absolute essence of its wildness and fragrances.

Your homage to your DOD is especially lovely and touching. I didn't plant potatoes in honor of my father this year, I suspected we'd be gone by the time they'd be ready for harvesting. It looks like I was right. We accepted an offer on our house yesterday.

Thank you for this beautiful tour of places we may never go and critters we may never see. My father introduced me to backyard birdwatching when I was in my teens. If not for that first titmouse....


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