Yes another Crooked Tree blog. Like I said in the previous blog Crooked Tree is a birding hotspot and it's not just the egrets ,ibises, cormorants, storks and herons that call the lagoon and waterways home.We have vireos, warblers, woodpeckers and whole bunch of other "land dwelling" (I don't think land dwelling is a good term to describe birds) birds. Since I've begun birding I've failed at trying to class the village of Crooked Tree as one sole habitat. I mean it's primarily cashew trees? with Pine, Oak, Palmetto and even few patches of Broadleaf. This mixture offers some good birding.
Crooked Tree has been where I've done a lot my birding in my short time as a birder mainly because I spend a lot of time here, my grandfather was born and raised in Crooked Tree so I'm often visiting. I've been birding the same patches over and over so I decided to try somewhere different, there is this road know by the villagers as the Big Pond Road, before the highway was built it was used to connect the villages of Crooked Tree and Carmelita, now that there's a highway vehicular traffic is almost none existent. Perfect for birding!!!!
|The beginning of the Big Road|
I tried get out before sunrise but I wasn't successful, I managed to start my journey to the Big Pond Road at 5:30. Me and my cousin hopped on our beach cruisers and headed out, we had to ride about 15 minutes through the village before we reached the road.Yellow-green Vireos, Rufous-browed Peppershikes, Clay-colored Thrushes, Thick-billed Seedfinches and a Bright-rumped Attila all participated in the morning chorus.
|Birding by beachcruiser|
|Female Thick-billed Seedfinch|
We continued riding along until the sand got too thick for the bikes. We stashed the bikes in the bushes and continued by foot which in my opinion is the best way to bird. Olive Sparrows,White-bellied Wrens and Northern Cardinals were very much present along this road calling from within the brush and some bravely coming into the open. Pale-vented pigeons were quite common and even a few Barred Antshrikes were present with their awesome calls.
|The sand got too thick for the bikes.|
|The road narrows|
The road began to narrow and the vegetation began to change, less signs of humans? yes more birds? yes!!! We came upon what was supposed to be the big pond, the road's namesake but it was more of a marsh it did give me a good look at low flying Aplomado Falcon. A large Oak tree had a great mixed flock of birds such as White-bellied Wrens, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Spot-breasted Wrens, Scrub Euphonias, even a Northern Cardinal and a Buff-bellied Hummingbird were there, that was a treat to see all those birds in that one area.
|A young Roadside Hawk|
We continued on for a bit along the road but I stopped when a heard an almost mournful call, I listened some more just to be sure and it was certainly the call of a Collared Forest Falcon! in my book that a damn good bird for Crooked Tree. By this time the morning sun was starting to "lick" ( as we Belizeans would say) so we started our journey back passing by a young Roadside Hawk calling for its mom, a male Canivet's Emerald who almost hit me in the face (who doesn't like a feisty hummingbird?) , a Laughing Falcon way off in the distance, two species of warblers the migrant Yellow Warbler (Northern) and the local and very much at home in Crooked Tree Grace's Warbler.
|Camp David was found on the way back.|
This area was very good for birding it had some very intact pine-oak forest and a nice mix of species I managed to get 70 species but I did miss some very easy birds to get in Crooked Tree like the Yucatan Jay (how did I miss this jay????) and Yucatan Flycatcher.
I fear that it may not continue to be that way for years to come because of the fact that I found some property markers and large areas were already fenced off, I could also hear the trucks passing on the Phillip Goldson Highway. I hope when I come back to bird this area it isn't cleared out and made into a cattle pasture ( this seems to be the trend in Crooked Tree).
I believe that the village of Crooked Tree can benefit a lot from bird tourism. But currently from what I can see the village is against conservation which isn't good for the birds. But I believe there is hope that Crooked Tree will change and become a great example of how beneficial a community within a Wildlife Sanctuary can be rather than how detrimental it is.