Birds of Honduras - Trade Mission March 2017
By Francine Clohosey
On behalf of Tours of Exploration I joined a small group of Canadian nature tour operators and several Honduran birding experts. The aim of the one-week journey was to assess the potential for expanding avitourism in this Central American country.
Two of the country’s many birding ecozones were selected; Lago de Yojoa and Pico Bonito National Park. The mission was led by Kisserup International Trade Roots, a leading edge trade and export development company. Through trade development, they have been building capacity and sustainable livelihoods since 1998.
We stayed for two nights at Panacam Lodge, an ideal setting to start our introduction to the birds of Honduras. Our first day alone yielded over 140 species, and set the average daily count for the remainder of the trip! We spent two days exploring the shore birds of Lago de Yajoa, and the nearby montane cloud forest in search of the illusive quetzal and other endemics. Then we headed north and spent our final two nights at Pico Bonito Lodge.
Of the land operators we met, we were particularly impressed by William and Katinka of Beaks and Peaks. They are passionate, knowledgeable guides and experienced birders who are well connected to Honduran birding community. In addition, we were fortunate to travel with Oliver Komar of Zamorano University who co-wrote Peterson's Field Guide to Birds of North Central America.
One of the highlights was when we visited a family farm, Eco Finca Luna de Puente, and enjoyed a full range of experiences including excellent birding, coffee sampling, a cocoa workshop, and lunch in a lovely outdoor setting with welcoming hosts. In the late afternoon, we stopped at the Lagos de Yojoa estuary which turned out to be one of the best birding sites of the trip and a spectacular setting.
On another day we learned about the la Montana Santa Barbara Project as we hiked with the leader of a community organization. We were impacted by this NGO’s efforts to protect the land and natural environment amid coffee producing land use demands. Back at the lake, we hopped onto a boat out of Honduyate Resort and were able to access birds from the canals. On another adventure, an early morning rickety train ride took us to Cuero y Salado Nature Reserve where we boarded a small vessel to navigate the mangrove rich shoreline. This was another highlight of the trip, again with great opportunities for birding.
Thanks to Kisserup for including us in this research project. It was a wonderful opportunity to share travel expertise and experience firsthand the rich birding and nature resources of this welcoming country.