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La Laguna Del Pajaros

    La Laguna Del Pajaros


     Beginning my journey to the mainland, I hopped aboard Carlos Alejos' river trip boat from the island for Altun Ha, a thousand year old Maya site on the main land.    We crossed the Back Bay and cruised up the Northern River to the Bomba Village. From Bomba we chartered a van. Carlos dropped me at the Maskall Village, home of the  Jungle Ranch where I had been invited to stay.


    After a tour of the grounds around the lodge, I was  given an unusually elegant cabaña and introduced to a guide named Alex.

    Alex surprised me with his "quick study" English, and we chuckled about how we both wore similar "Botas Grandes". He immediately led me across a pasture of horses, thank God for big boots. We were on our way to his special bird  watching spot he called "La Laguna Del Pajaros".

    Beyond the pasture among strangler fig and cahune trees was an ancient spring fed lagoon, a special year-round supply of water at the foot of the jungle and end of the savanna. Just  what I had come to see - the conjuncture of two rich habitats at water. A small pier extended from the bank into the arena of the lagoon. Its surrounding trees created a panorama of jungle.

    I was almost overwhelmed by the birds that seemed to be everywhere I pointed my binoculars. Some I may never be able to identify.

    For a while I was frantically looking up new species in my field guide. I decided after a few minutes to just relax, let time go by and enjoy my watch.

    Chachalaca crackled in the background. Blue-gray Tangers, Tricolored Heron, a tree of Ani, a Green Kingfisher perching on a stick, two Gray Necked Wood Rails hunting along the bank with Little Ruddy Crakes mixing their hunting ground, two Red Billed Pigeons cooing from the tallest tree, a tree filled with yellow-lored Parrots, a variety of hawks soared above rocking wings and casting hunting eyes downward.

    I turned slowly to study four Boat Billed Heron perched on a dead tree leaning in the lagoon.

    During our stillness and quiet of awe, a crocodile larger than myself rose from below, then surfaced in slow motion, crawled atop a lagoon log and lay fully extended in the sun.

    Crocodile watching must be similar to bird watching.

    He was light mud brown and oddly yellow with dark, vertical bands on its tail. Reaching forward with his hind leg and twisting his neck back, he scratched behind one ear like Bubba does when it's time to relax on a rug.

    A passing light breeze blew open my bird book, flapping and flashing its white pages. The crocodile only paused a second at the notice of me then slid below the surface. I think even Alex was amazed.

    I was in bird watcher's heaven and nearing overload before I noticed this different looking tityra. I raised my binoculars to catch a close look and saw the bright red mask of a Masked Tityra.

    It was all I could take. I had to put down the binoculars. It was time to leave.

    Time started back slowly as I walked back across the pasture to the bar at the lodge.

    I'm going to like this place!