Sunday, 7 February 2010
With another early start on the shores of Lake Atitlan, we said goodbye this morning to Nate and Debbie, both of whom had to depart pre-dawn for Guatemala City to catch their respective flights back home to the States. Our journey was far shorter, taking a boat across the lake to the delightful Laguna Lodge, on whose property we were going to search for the enigmatic Belted Flycatcher.
Still suffering with a knee problem after yesterday's volcano climb, my heart sank at the sight of a steep trail winding its way up the hillside. I took it at my own pace to avoid exacerbating the problem, and thus trailed behind the group for most of the way. Catching up the tail end of the others as the path levelled out on a ridge, I paused alongside Bill to say that, disappointingly, this was as far as I would make it today.
As the group continued on, Bill and I both caught a movement low down to the right of the path. I spun the focus wheel of my ELs as the bird momentarily hopped into the open. BELTED FLYCATCHER! My shout didn't exactly encourage the bird to continue showing confidently, but it was necessary to bring everyone back to see our targe birdt, which thankfully they all eventually did. As a group, Empidonax flycatchers and their allies are somewhat lacking in glamour, but Belted Flycatcher - actually in the genus Xenotriccus - is an exception and a beautifully marked bird. They are skulkers and this one was too quick for my camera, but this image shows you what I mean.
Thereafter, it was downhill all the way. Not just back to the lodge, but in body and spirit. On top of my knee injury, whatever the local equivalent of Montezuma's Revenge is struck with a vengeance, and within two hours I was as white as a sheet and flat out on the bus. I mustered enough energy to say goodbye to most of the group, and our gracious host Ana Cristina, before Bill, Laurens and I, now joined by Frank Gallo, made the 3.5 hour journey to Las Nubes, our base for the next three nights.