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Tottering Farther Afield

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Zick with the frond of a cahoon palm, the largest leaf in the world!! Thanks to Jeff Gordon for telling me that tidbit, and to BOTB for taking this shot.

After a day and a half of lying around like a burlap bag, I was really ready to get out and watch some birds somewhere other than off my balcony. My balcony had been beddy good to me, but a girl has her limits. So I wandered alone on and off the hotel grounds, seeing what I could see.

Others have blogged about the crocodile made of dough that greeted us at our first breakfast at PetenItza. Well, that was cute, but I thought this was cuter. A Morelet's crocodile Crocodylus moreletii (an endemic, rare, and sometimes quite dangerous creature native to coastal Mexico, Belize and Guatemala) waits next to the reflection of a sign warning us of its malevolence. Patricia says "Watch this!" and grabs a bun out of our basket and tosses it into the water.

CLOMP!B'bye, bun. Although one of the two Morelet's crocs who live in a small lagoon at Tikal has been reputed to be a man-eater, I felt comfortable walking the edge of this lake, knowing at least one of the crocs had a belly full of buns.

I decided to make a photo safari, to get pictures of as many lakeside denizens as I could. To tell you the truth, since I got a good camera, every excursion turns into a photo safari. I wouldn't know what it's like just to hike, swinging my arms and covering ground, without a lead weight on my left shoulder and my eye always ready for the photo-op. But I'm not complaining. Hunting down and bringing back digital trophies is tons o' fun.

A gray-necked wood rail padded softly by a muddy inlet.
Mangrove swallows, cousins of our tree swallows who've only just arrived in Ohio for the spring, showed white rumps as they waited for insects to fly by their little posts.
Yes, there's something very familiar about this Tachycineta (albilinea).

A northern jacana teetered on spindly legs as it pecked at...buns. I'd love to say it was eating crustaceans, but it was eating part of a bun the croc had missed.
Get a load of that inflated, cushy frontal shield. Oh, I'd love to poke it with my fingertip, to see if it's as soft as it looks. Birds like me, but not that much. Someday, I'll poke a jacana's frontal shield. Before I die. We all must have goals.
Not far from a huge exposed earthen bank along the road, a harsh call rang out. Thirteen "yik's" in a row. Then another 13, then another. A female ringed kingfisher (discernible by her blue "bra," which the male lacks) was perched on a wire, scolding me. I thought she probably had a nest in the bank. For a kingfisher, she allowed a ridiculously close approach. I remember Susan Gets Native's plaintive caption, "Does ANYBODY get a good photo of a kingfisher?" Well, until now, I sure thought not!
You will notice that this kingfisher is huge, and equipped with a dagger for a bill. It's 16" long, to the belted kingfisher's 12". Oh, I would hate to be a fish in a lagoon under a ringed kingfisher.

At the start of each series of 13 calls, she'd jet her tail and let it fall as she yikked her complaint out into the hot, still air.
She perched briefly in a tree, letting me see her brilliant rufous underparts.
Then she flew into the woods, where she could keep scolding from a leafy fastness. What a satisfying encounter with the King Kongfisher.I spent today pulling up last year's vegetable garden, burning the stalks, raking up all the straw and finally rototilling the whole thing. I am semi-liquid, but must gather enough energy for a band practice in 1/2 hour. Oh, and cook dinner in between. Yeah, I'm wondering how I do it all, too.


Are you bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan? Shouldn't you be wearing some kind of perfume? Oh wait, that's that ad from the seventies...

Have a great practice. Do you have another gig coming up?

Oh, and as usual an interesting post. What an amazing leaf. It looks so very dinosaur era.

Fascinating pictures of the King Kongfisher and the croc. Don't over do in the garden.

Do you know how long I've been stalking a Belted Kingfisher and getting lousy shots??? Huh? You win. Hands down.

Photography is just so addicting. My husband is most patient on our "photo" walks ... some of my friends, not so!

"Someday, I'll poke a jacana's frontal shield."

LOL Julie! Indeed, we all have to have that list of things to do before we die! I am snorting...

Love your Kingfisher!

Such a WILD place--with man-eating crocodiles and king kongfishers!

As wonderful as it was, I'd bet you're glad to be home--watching OUR swallows and waiting for the hummers' return.

Shouldn't that be Kong Kingfisher? :-)

just catching up on things...oh, thank you for sharing all of these lovely photos!!! So sorry to hear of your digestive troubles...better now? And how much do I want to go to Guatemala?!?!

Great post!!

Julie--I apologize in advance for what I am about to write.
When I saw the first photo of you next to the giant frond, I couldn't help but think:
With fronds like this who needs anemones?

Well, fine then. Get a good picture of a kingfisher. See if I care.

: )

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