My second trip to Guatemala was mostly geared to finding the Resplendant Quetzal, and other highland species. After checking out the EXCELLENT Guatemalan Birding Resource Center website, and a Lonely Planet Guide I had a better idea of where I wanted to go. I hired Marvin to guide me to the best spots in the Guatemalan Highlands, and he sure delivered. He brought Fermin from Belize (Wings Of Nature) who was a great birder as well, and we enjoyed excellent weather , great local food, and beautiful scenery. The goal species were also ticked off in very little time:
Resplendant Quetzal, Blue and white Mockingbird, Cabani's Tanager, Pink-headed Warbler, Rufous-browed Wren, Guatemalan Flicker, Guatemalan Pygmy Owl ,Rufous-Collared Robin, Brown-backed Solitaire, Azure-crowned Hummingbird, Blue-crowned Chlorophonia, Mountain Trogon just to name a few...

Marvin Morales, and Fermin Tzib
Quetzaltenango area - June, 2003

The mornings started with a road side stop for a refreshing Jugo Con Huevo, which is a true power drink. Made from the local oranges, and farm fresh eggs this brew is sure to sustain you till lunch (raw egg floating in OJ).
Jugo Con Huevo
Quetzaltenango area - June, 2003

Across from the active volcano of Santa Maria the the dramatic view from the westernmost cordillieras was stupendous. In one direction the active volcano with its ashes dusting my rental car, and in the other the coastal plains stretching towards the Pacific Ocean in the horizon.

The steep, slippery hill sides were breath taking in a totally different way as well; when we were out of water, and my legs were just about to buckle a local farmer approached me. Not knowing a lick of Spanish, I pointed towards the trail where Fermin was slowly approaching; "No Habla espanol"" pointing again "compadre". Fermin appeared and started talking to the farmer while I tried to charm the bravest and oh so cute children. We had not yet seen the Quetzal, but the farmer told Fermin that he indeed knew a great place for them. We decided to follow him , and thought that the hike wouldn't be any worse than what we already had done that morning. An hour or so later up narrow, muddy trails, dotted with ancient Maya ceramic pieces, we finally reached the end of the trail, and the beginning of the dense, pristine cloud forest. My loungs were about to burst, my legs felt like stone and I couldn't walk any faster though we heard the birds not far away. The Quetzals were very vocal, and were even courtship displaying showing off their long, gold-green shimmering, curved tail feathers. It was a magical encounter even though the optical equipment fogged up, and the afternoon rain began to fall. I was quite happy collecting the rain water in my rain poncho to quench my thirst after the crazy hike up and down the volcano.

We also visited the pacific lowlands with a completely different avifauna (e.g., Long-billed Starthroat, Pacific Parakeet, a few new warblers, Seedeaters, Magpie-jays etc) before we headed back to Guatemala City where I continued to Lago Atitlan on my own. That beautiful spot gave me new birds such as Belted Flycatcher, Rufous Sabrewing, and more Blue-throated Motmots before heading back to Guatemala City on the Chicken bus (yes it is true, i was sitting behind a cute Mayan girl with a Rooster in her lap!).

I also continued with a bus to the humid forest of Tikal in the Péten, and ticked off Orange-breasted Falcon, Collared Trogon, Purple-crowned Fairy among the new birds for me. I have previously visited this great place and spotted the wonderfully odd Pheasant Cuckoo, Tody Motmot, Bare-throated Tiger-heron, Red-capped Manakin, Least grebe, Limpkin etc. The rest of that vacation was done back-packing through Belieze, and Mexico with most of the birds seen from the buses (including one adult Jabiru on a flooded field half an hour north of Belize city!)

Volcan Santa Maria
Quetzaltenango area - June, 2003

Victor, the local farmer who led us to the Resplendant Quetzals
Santa Maria area - June, 2003

Two of Victor's children, "capriciosa", in front of their Casa where I was lucky to be invited to sit down for some sweet coffee, and rest after the strenuous hike.

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