Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Trip Report from Adolfo Mendez to Quetzales NP, Aug. 16th

Trip on Aug-16th.

As I told you earlier, the idea was to take my boss and his family in search of the resplendent quetzal, the national bird of Guatemala, where they are originally from. I read that the quetzal is somewhat rare up there, and very few Guatemalans have seen one. Given its name, we initially visited the recently opened Quetzales NP. Its main entrance is located on kilometer 76 of the Panamerican HW, just in front of the Chespiritos Restaurant. Infrastructure is good and park rangers are very friendly. Because of its high altitude, the quetzal can not be seen on the surroundings of the rangers station. So we took one of the trails and hiked (2 km) towards lower elevations, following instructions from a guide we hired at the station (very friendly also, but not a great birder though). However, no quetzals were to be seen or heard. We returned to the station, jumped inside the car and drove 7 kms towards the village of Providencia, as the guide knew of a specific aguacatillo (Laureacea) tree which was full of fruit. After crossing a river and driving down some steep, scary slopes (4x4 vehicle, experienced driver needed), we got to the aguacatillo which was next to the road and with lots of fruit. And of course, there were plenty of quetzals there (at least 3 individuals taking turns on the tree). After the tough ride and mission accomplished, we decided to have lunch in San Gerardo (some 9 kms from the park entrance), and chose the Trogon Lodge. Ironically, just in front of the restaurant and in full view of the patrons, there was a lauracea tree with abundant fruit...and birds. There was not a moment, while we stayed there, when a quetzal was not there (to the delight of my boss). Emerald toucanets and other species also visited the tree.Conclusion: the park is not a good spot for quetzals, at least this time of year. It is better just to head down to San Gerardo and look in the usual places, just like you recommended. Below, a small list of other species I saw at the park:Black GuanBand-tailed PigeonMagnificent HummingbirdFiery-throated HummingbirdVolcano HummingbirdGray-breasted Wood-WrenBlack-billed Nightingale-ThrushMountain RobinBlack-and-yellow Silky-flycatcherThree-striped WarblerFlame-throated WarblerSooty-capped Bush Tanager



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