However, every morning our hunt for the cats took the form of driving the roads around La Milpa just before dawn. Freddie had told us that several had been seen that way over the recent weeks, or in the area around the Mayan ruins (did I forget to mention that La Milpa is also home to the third largest Maya site in Belize which is currently under excavation by Boston University), so we were full of optimism. best solar trail camera
After a couple of mornings with no sightings we drove close to the ruin area and set off on foot, but still no jaguars. As we headed back to the truck something flew through the clearing that caught our eye, and on further scouring the trees we saw the most amazing bright blue bird. I’m not really a “twitcher” but this little fellow was beautiful and we spent several minutes watching him before we returned to the field station for breakfast.
As we tucked into scrambled eggs, sausages and fried jacks, Freddie asked if we had had any luck seeing jaguars that morning. We said unfortunately not, but that we had seen a really lovely blue bird. Silence fell around the room.
One of the researchers grabbed the “Birds of Belize” book and asked us to see if the bird we had seen was in there. We scanned through the colour plates and pointed to our “little fellow”. The questions now came quickly as people grabbed boots, cameras, binoculars and more. “Where exactly was it?” “Could we find it again?” “How long ago?” and “don’t just sit there eating, let’s GO!”.
We all bundled into trucks, vans, jeeps and with us at the front we drove the convoy back to where we had earlier parked our truck. We looked up into the high canopy and… there he was, just where we had left him. Photos were taken (we didn’t have the same fancy cameras as the researchers but were able to get a close-up shot by putting our camera lens right up against a telescope) and details were recorded. So what was so special? The bird we had spotted was the Lovely Cotinga, one, or possibly THE, rarest bird in Belize. As Freddie later told us, in over two years of living at La Milpa he had seen hundreds of Jaguars, but never a Lovely Cotinga before that morning!