The only bus that runs directly from the village of Crooked Tree to Belize City, the Jex bus, comes through at 6:30 am, so we knew it was going to be an early morning by necessity.  Fortunately, as I mentioned before, it's easy to get up early at the lodge, and I managed to pop out of bed just in time to catch the stunning sunrise over the lagoon.  Barry just missed it!
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Crazy beautiful, right?
We quickly dressed and packed our backpacks for the trek back to Ambergris Caye.  I was at the lodge a little before 6 am and caught Angie coming in from a walk.  The coffee was fresh and hot, and we were able to grab a cup (and a banana each for the road) while saying our goodbyes to Angie and Mick and checking out.  Mick offered us a lift down to the bus stop, but our backpacks weren't that heavy, and it was a beautiful morning for a walk, so we declined.
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Leaving the Crooked Tree Lodge
We walked quickly lest we miss the bus, arriving at the stop a few minutes before 6:30 am.  When we got there, we saw some locals gathered, so we knew it hadn't come yet.  And since the roads are unpaved, you can hear vehicles (especially bus-sized) from a long distance, and we hadn't heard a peep.  We ended up waiting about ten minutes and getting in a little last minute birding, of course! 
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At the bus stop
Finally the bus arrived, and we all filed on.  It was already quite crowded, a bit surprising since we thought that Crooked Tree was the start of the route, so apparently more folks from this village take the bus to the city than we realized.  We would be sitting together on the child-sized seat with our backpacks in our lap for the entire way this time.  In fact, the bus continued picking up folks all the way to Belize City, with very few getting off, so eventually it was standing room only.  I suspect a lot of these folks were heading to work or to appointments in the city.
When we got to Belize City, the bus attendant asked where we were heading. They don't get a lot of gringos on this bus line, so she had also taken care of us on the way to Crooked Tree, making sure we got off at the right spot.  We told her that we were taking the ferry to San Pedro, but first were planning a stop at Brodie's (grocery store) to pick up a few things.  We figured the bus would finish the journey at the same place we got on two days earlier, but she told us that they needed to fuel up first, and if we were in a hurry, she'd show us where to get off so that we could walk to Brodie's.  What a nice lady.  We hoped to make the 9 am ferry back to San Pedro, so we didn't want to wait for them to fuel up the bus.  

She instructed us to get off right where a local woman who was also heading towards Brodie's got off, so the local lady said she'd show us the way; we'd never gone there from this direction before.  Walking with a local was great -- no one hassled us, and we didn't get lost.
Finally she pointed us to Brodie's, but peeled off in the other direction herself, so perhaps she was just going near there, not actually there.   
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Brodie's is bigger than the grocery stores in San Pedro and usually has better prices, plus 10% off Friday through Sunday!
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We ate our bananas from the lodge before heading in
We found a good assortment of groceries at Brodie's that just fit into the extra canvas bag we'd brought along for that reason.  We were cutting the time very close to the 9 am ferry; however, so practically had to run to the ferry terminal.  We'd hoped to have time to hit the rest room at the terminal before boarding the boat, but as luck would have it, a field trip's worth of children and their chaperones were lined up in the ladies room, so I had to grin and bear it.  As it turned out, the ferry was late leaving after all (typical in Belize), so I probably could have made it, but fortunately I didn't wet my pants on the boat ride to San Pedro (heehee).

As is also very typical for our travels, we knew we'd be arriving in San Pedro just after the water taxi north would have departed the dock (and with two hours until the next one), so we decided to have brunch at Estel's before picking Paisley up at Pampered Paws.  Thus fortified, we picked her and her stuff up and still had a 45-minute wait for the next water taxi, but it costs quite a bit less than a land taxi, and we couldn't walk the two miles back to Chico Caribe with her and all our gear on such a hot, sunny day.  So we waited.  At least there are benches in the shade, with a nice breeze, and I had a book.  Could have been worse.

As usual, the water taxi was packed, and with all our gear, it was quite an uncomfortable ride, but we made it back safe and sound.  Paisley was glad to be home, though she does great at Pampered Paws.
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Paisley loves retrieving coconuts in the shallow ocean waters

The birds.

Since today's post is a shorter one (for us, anyway!), I'm including photos of some of the many birds we saw during our stay at Crooked Tree.  Each species that was a new one for our life lists, I've followed by an asterisk (*).
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American Coot* -- there were a ton of these on the lagoon
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Groove-Billed Ani*
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Bare-throated Tiger Heron*
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Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks*
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Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher
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Roseate Spoonbill
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Dusky-capped Flycatcher
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Ruddy Ground Dove
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Green Heron, juvenile
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Rufous-Tailed Hummingbird, fluffy during the rain
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Tropical Kingbird
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Ringed Kingfisher (female)
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Green Kingfisher* (female)
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Limpkin
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Northern Jacana*, a very cool bird we saw a lot of at the lagoon bank
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Northern Jacana - had to include this one too since it had its three juveniles with it. Super cute!
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Osprey
White pelicans are rare in Belize, so the folks at the lodge were excited to see this flock.
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American White Pelicans*
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Clay-colored Robin*
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White-Collared Seedeater (male)
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Snail Kite
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Blue-Gray Tanager -- we saw a lot of these, but they are hard to photograph, moving around frequently
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Caspian Terns*
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Vermillion Flycatcher* (male) -- a stunning bird we saw a lot
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Vermillion Flycatcher* (female)
There were large flocks of these Black Vultures in trees along the road (but not at the lodge, thankfully).  Reminded me places in rural North Carolina where we'd see them on our bike rides.
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Black Vulture
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Magnolia Warbler
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Acrorn Woodpecker -- there were two nesting pairs in this large dead tree at the lodge
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Solitary Sandpiper*
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Jabiru Stork*
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Wood Storks
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Wood Storks
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House Wren
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Double-Crested Cormorant, Snail Kite, White Ibis
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Great Egret, White Ibis, Caspian Terns
We saw a few other species that we were unable to get photos of.  And probably even more we didn't write down.  Here's a list of the ones we did note but didn't get photos of.  All of these were already on our life lists, but we never mind seeing them again!
Rose-Throated Becard (pair)
Chackalacka (audio only)
Social Flycatcher
Great-Tailed Grackle (many)
Great Kiskadee
Green-Breasted Mango
American Redstart
Mangrove Swallow
Blue-Winged Teal 
Golden-Fronted Woodpecker
If you enjoy bird-watching and are in Belize, you owe it to yourself to visit Crooked Tree.  We can highly recommend the Crooked Tree Lodge -- Mick and Angie will treat you right, and you will see more birds than you can imagine.
Sabrina
5/1/2012 12:37:57 am

That sunrise is spectacular! The American white pelicans like some some we get on our lake as they migrate south. Do you suppose it's some of the same? I don't know how far they migrate each season.

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BeBelize Emily
5/1/2012 04:12:31 am

Yes, that's the bird, Sabrina! Sounds like they winter on the Gulf Coast and Florida (and occasionally Belize!) then migrate to Minnesota and Canada in the summer, which would send them right over your area twice a year. Check this out: http://www.greatriverroad.com/nature/pelican.htm. We hadn't seen them before since we didn't live on their migration path. Very cool birds and HUGE!

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