Nature Reserve sights in Central America
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Between December and May, migrating birds flock to the lagoons, rivers and swamps of the massive Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, which is managed by Belize Audubon. The best bird-watching is in April and May, when the low level of the lagoon draws thousands of birds into the open to seek food in the shallows.
That said, at any time between December and May, bird-watchers are in for hours of ornithological bliss. Boat-billed, chestnut-bellied and bare-throated tiger herons, Muscovy and black-bellied whistling ducks, snail kites, ospreys, black-collared hawks and all of Belize's five species of kingfisher are among the 276 species recorded here. Jabiru storks, the largest…
The northernmost 100 acres of the island constitute the Caye Caulker Forest Reserve, also declared in 1998. The littoral forest on Caye Caulker is mostly red, white and black mangrove, which grows in the shallow water. The mangroves' root systems support an intricate ecosystem, including sponges, gorgonians, anemones and a wide variety of fish. Besides the mangroves, the forest contains buttonwood, gumbo-limbo (the 'tourist tree'), poisonwood, madre de cacao, ficus and ziracote. Coconut palms and Australian pines are not native to this region, but there is no shortage of them.
Birdlife is prolific in the mangrove swamp, especially wading birds such as the tricolored heron…
One of the most rugged and rarely visited reserves in the country, Hitoy-Cerere is only about 60km south of Puerto Limón. The 99-sq-km reserve sits on the edge of the Cordillera de Talamanca, characterized by varying altitudes, evergreen forests and rushing rivers. This may be one of the wettest reserves in the parks system, inundated with 4000mm to 6000mm of rain annually.
Naturally, wildlife is abundant. The most commonly sighted mammals include gray four-eyed opossums, tayras (a type of weasel), and howler and capuchin monkeys. There are plenty of ornithological delights as well (the area is home to more than 230 avian species), including keel-billed toucans,…