- Category: Tours
- Published on Friday, 16 September 2011 22:29
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This mosaic of elongated lagoons, connected by creeks, savannas and logwood thickets is excellent for birds. As the dry season gets underway, they arrive in huge numbers from the Peten and Yucatan as swamps in these areas dry up. By April, the Crooked Tree landscape is alive with flocks of different water birds. Huge congregations of Double Crested Cormorants, Egrets, Herons, and different ducks all can be seen.
The Jabiru Stork, the largest bird in the Americas, also calls in from time to time. They appear in November, build their stick nesting platforms in December or January, and raise their young by June. Where they spend the rest of the year is a bit of a mystery, but the suspicion is Campeche in Mexico.
Crooked Tree also hosts the Peregrine, the world's fastest falcon. They patrol the waterways in search of a meal and have learnt to follow tour boats. The many Coots on the water are distracted when the boats pass, giving the Peregrine a chance to search out their prey, dive and strike. Powerful enough to grab an adult Coot right out of the water, the Peregrine carries its meal off to some perch.
Another Crooked Tree bird spectacle is the Snail Kites, feeding on Apple Snails whose large sun-bleached shells litter the banks. Their white egg clusters are also often to be seen on sedges and rushes, just above the waterline. The Kites hover round the sanctuary year round and are one of its characteristic animals.
Other permanent inhabitants include all Belize's species of kingfishers, and Muscovy and Black-bellied Whistling ducks that nest in the trees around the lagoons. Black Creek or Spanish Creek offer particular good birding, as they meander south to the Belize River. Colonies of Boatbilled Herons can be found. Hard to see but not to hear, they hide away in the darkest recesses of the canopy, but give themselves away with their squawking cackling calls. Along the rivers banks also look out for crocodiles, turtles and iguanas. In the middle of the sanctuary sites Crooked Tree itself Native cashew trees abound. Look out for the bright red Vermilion Flycatcher. It's hard to miss as it sits on fence posts waiting for passing insects.