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Luke Seitz on his recent tour, Guatemala

May 22: Luke Seitz on his recent tour, Guatemala

Our tour to Guatemala this year was nothing short of spectacular – it’s difficult to articulate just how much fun we had. Of course, I always try to make my tours sound as good as possible in the write-up...maybe embellishing just a little bit, or glossing over the more challenging days. For this tour, the only challenge will be finding enough unique superlatives to use in describing our outrageous views of rare and difficult birds, the great sense of humor shared by everyone in the group, and the memories of a trip that will go down as one of the best I’ll ever do!

We started off with some easy highland birding around the historic city of Antigua (with regional specialties like Blue-throated Motmot, Blue-and-white Mockingbird, and our first Pink-headed Warblers) before heading west towards Huehuetenango. The weather on the high plateau is unpredictable but our time here was beautiful, allowing for a full morning of birding among the pines and junipers with abundant Goldman’s Warblers…

Goldman's Warbler

...and before long, it was time to head even further west, birding for two days on the slopes of Volcán Tacaná. The bamboo was seeding, so amazingly, we enjoyed mega views of a singing Maroon-chested Ground-Dove in the scope for fifteen minutes! Wow – arguably one of the most difficult and unpredictable species in the Neotropics. 

Maroon-chested Ground-Dove

One of the most sought-after species for any birder visiting Guatemala is the unique Pink-headed Warbler. It’s a fairly common bird, and it’s not too difficult to find a couple pairs in a morning of birding…but we were hardly expecting to see over SIXTY individuals in just a couple hours! We didn’t get bored of this stunner, though.

Pink-headed Warbler

Heading back east, we worked our way through various other birding locations in the highlands, with highlights too numerous to list…Fulvous Owls perched right over our heads, Azure-rumped Tanager singing in the scope, Bar-winged Orioles, Black-crested Coquette, outrageous views of White-faced and White-eared Ground-Sparrows, Slender Sheartail, Belted Flycatcher…our luck simply never ended. As our time in the highlands wrapped up, we looked forward to the Tikal extension…would our perfect trip continue? Unequivocally, yes, with cooperative Pheasant Cuckoos and Tody Motmots…

Tody Motmot

…and, most unexpected of all, JAGUAR! An adult quickly crossed the road in front of us, followed by this youngster, which paused for a solid 15 seconds as our group stared in disbelief. It’s difficult to describe the adrenaline rush and excitement that come with seeing a big cat in the Neotropics. Heart pounding, goosebumps, and nausea were all among my symptoms. Wow – I wonder what next year’s tour will hold?!


Posted: May 22, 2019