more I get into this art of backyard birding in Belize, the more
I realize that the reason people have come to birding slower than
they have to other adventure sports, is that from the outside
looking in I too always thought is was an elite undertaking. However,
with closer examination and active participation, that reasoning
just could not be further from the truth.
it certainly helps to have at least a pair of worthy binoculars
if you are over the age of fourteen and require eye glasses to
read the burger menu at most drive thru restaurants, it is not
mandatory to see birds in paradise. Nor is it required that you
own the latest copy of a bird identification book accompanied
by a list of blank spaces to log your sightings, though both compliment
each other and in the case of the former, a book with pictures
sure is better than one without.
said, I was sitting in the local Tropic Air terminal in Punta
Gorda one day awaiting the arrival and the subsequent departure
of the flight north from PG to Placencia when I noticed a promotional
poster for TIDE. The acronym is short for the Toledo Institute
for the Development of the Environment, the non governmental organization
based in Punta Gorda charged with the task of maintaining the
Port of Honduras Marine Reserve as well as vast tracts of some
of the last remaining natural ecological landscapes found only
in the Toledo District of Belize.
I studied the information contained in TIDE's poster display,
I focused my attention upon the photographs of many of the rare
birds and their threatened habitats. Suddenly I realized I was
looking at a photograph of a bird that just days before I had
found myself staring up at. It was perched upon a tree branch
directly above my head. Indeed, it was the exact same bird the
TIDE poster in the Tropic Air terminal in PG was declaring a rare
and endangered species.
sighting came at the point in my day when birds seemed to be ready
to be noticed or simply at that time when I afford time to look
in their direction. It had been another early rising as jungle
mornings so often require and I was listening to Nuri Muhammad
and Richard Merrill, the two morning talk show host for LOVE-FM,
the only nationwide Belizean radio broadcast that reaches the
back porch of the thatch roofed champa that houses my kitchen.
Richard was as usual expounding upon the virtues he had learned
about life during his years in the "far frozen north"
when Nuri decided enough was enough and either by accident or
by design turned off the microphone in Belmopan that insured to
all the listeners that once again Mr. Merrill would not be able
to finish his thought.
when I decided to flip the dial and change over to the only other
channel that comes in loud and clear. That would be a Guatemalan
station in Puerto Barrios that blares out salsa and a handful
of reggae regulars mixed with a basket filled full with corazon
love songs that in any language will break your heart in pieces.
Whether I like it or not doesn't really matter, for my choices
are so limited on my portable radio and this station comes in
so crystal clear it sounds as though they are broadcasting from
the other room.
fact, this day when the music from Guatemala took over the airwaves,
that's when I noticed a lone bird sitting above me on the branch
of the tree that Lionel, the carpenter who built the porch on
the back of the kitchen champa, said had to stay. It was Lionel
who felt it was best to leave it in place and in turn we agreed
to build the decking around the tree.