Choosing the proper guide who knows the terrain is the key to a successful bird watching experience in Belize, according to a Chaa Creek birding expert.
Naturalist guide Miguel Choco said that with such a wealth of avian wildlife in Belize, finding birds is easy. But finding the birds you want is where experience and expertise comes in.
“Belize is definitely birding heaven, with over 308 species recorded in the Chaa Creek nature reserve alone,” Mr Choco said. “Even people not generally interested in birding soon become fans just by walking along the miles of trails and spotting the toucans, parrots, falcons and other birds that make their homes here.
“But for the keen birder, or someone who really wants an education in the birds of Belize, having a knowledgeable guide with specific experience in birding is essential,” he cautioned.
The tiny Caribbean nation of Belize is part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor, which stretches from Mexico through Central America and is home to a diverse range of birds and wildlife. Mr Choco said that this, combined with Chaa Creek’s own 365 acre private rainforest reserve, has created an unparalleled opportunity for birding.
“We’re basically a protected region within a protected region, so it’s a great sanctuary for local and migratory birds, and that’s why we have such an abundance of wildlife here,” he said.
“But again, to make the most of it, people should go out with a licensed naturalist guide with specific experience in birds. That’s why at Chaa Creek we have unique birding programs and specialist birding guides.”
Mr Choco said that Chaa Creek has a long association with birding, having worked with the Zoological Society of Milwaukee and the Foundation for Wildlife Conservation in hosting avian research projects. The Chaa Creek nature reserve was one of the study sites for the Birds Without Borders project, which identified 308 species in that area alone.
Mr Choco said that he has been conducting birding excursions for over 10 years and praised Chaa Creek birding specialist Ricky Manzanero as another licensed guide with similar experience and passion for birding.
“We’re very lucky in being able to work in an environment that’s so rich and unspoiled. Chaa Creek’s owners, Mick and Lucy Fleming, are very strong conservationists and committed to protecting Belize’s natural environment. This means that we get guests who are also passionate, which makes our birding tours fun, and lets us take part in projects such as Birds Without Borders. For me, it’s like having the best job in the world and doing it in the best place possible,” he said.
Mr Choco said that Chaa Creek offers all-inclusive Bird Watching vacation packages that immerse guests in the birds of Belize while enjoying a Belize vacation complete with tours of ancient Maya temples and archaeological sites, canoe trips and all the amenities of a Chaa Creek vacation package, including excursions to the Caribbean coast and Belize Great Barrier Reef, if they wish.
“Birding in ancient Maya sites, and looking at the same exotic birds the ancient Maya revered is definitely an experience of a lifetime,” Mr Choco said. “In all my years of conducting these tours, I never get tired of them,” he added.