Our 20th Annual Gallon Jug Christmas Bird Count, in conjunction with National Audubon Society, was one for the record books. We had perfect weather -- sunny and 80F or so -- and 34 enthusiastic participants.
Our stalwarts from Corozal Town, 3 hours north of us, came down. This includes a retired teacher from Corozal Community College and 4 of his former students, all of whom have become very competent birders over the many years of their participation. Victor Emanual Nature Tours, booked in at Chan Chich, participated as they have done for all 20 counts and contributed some great birds to our efforts. Several other guests at the Lodge also contributed as well as all of us "locals" from Gallon Jug community and Chan Chich Lodge.
We ended up with 214 species -- best count since 2001! -- and just over 3000 individuals. We had been concerned that Hurricane Richard that plowed a path through our area (24 October), would adversely affect the count. And some aspects certainly were "different." The frugivores (fruit eaters) like the toucans and parrots were present only in small numbers, perhaps since leaves and fruits were stripped from many trees during the storm. Presumably they've moved elsewhere to look for food resources while the forest regenerates. Hopefully, we'll be seeing them soon.
Neotropical migrants were conspicuous and represented in good numbers, especially the Gray Catbird which seemed to be everywhere! Warblers and thrushes were also in good evidence.
As far as resident species go, one of the real oddities this year was the White-whiskered Puffbird (Malacoptila panamensis). By no means rare, it is always recorded a few times. This year every team, except at the farm, had several, enough to total 32. It was a record year for them! My personal favorite bird for the count was the White-necked Puffbird (Notharchus hyperrhynchus; above) perched on a sign. Normally this is a bird found high in the canopy. It had been some years since I'd had a good close look at one, and here it was at eye level, posing for pictures.