Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Guatemala...Ranchitos del Quetzal

It's a lengthy drive from the dry forests of the Heloderma Reserve to the cloud forests of Ranchitos del Quetzal and we arrive late in the evening. With the increase in altitude comes a much cooler and damper climate but the cloud forests of Ranchitos are brimming with wildlife. Our reptile guide Andres Novales, is tasked with finding us some reptiles to film so he heads off to look for some while we all hit the sack so that we are ready to film the next morning.



We gather for breakfast and the news couldn't be better, Andres had found us a couple of magnificent Yellow-blotched Palm Pitvipers, Bothriechis aurifer. But before we see them we have an appointment with some very special birds. Birds that this private reserve was named after, the Resplendant Quetzal.

Resplendent Quetzal, famale

Resplendent Quetzal, male

A bird that lives up to its name.

As the Quetzals light up the trees, the Unicolored Jays start to arrive for breakfast. The lodge owners put food out for them every morning and they come in waves to feed. They really are attractive birds.

Unicolored Jay

Unicolored Jay

Unicolored Jay

Unicolored Jay
One of my favourite hummingbirds joins the throng, a brilliantly coloured Violet Saberwing. They're large hummers too and almost constantly on the move. I was lucky to find one that kept pitching up close to the breakfast area.

Violet Saberwing

Violet Saberwing, how different they look when they're sat in the shade.
Collard Trogon, male
At long last I get to see one of the most beautiful snakes I've ever had the pleasure of holding, a Yellow Botched Palm Pitviper, Bothriechis aurifer. My sincere thanks to Andres Novales for finding it.

Bothiechis aurifer, female - lime green and yellow beauty.
Photos don't do it justice...it's stunning!

Bothriechis aurifer, female

Another small crew of scientists were on site climbing trees and studying the reptiles and amphibians of the reserve. I noticed one of the guys was disfigured and it turned out this was caused by a rattlesnake that bit him on the forearm when he was 18. After a week in a coma and several skin grafts later, this is how he was left. A stark reminder of just how dangerous some of these snakes can be - accidents do happen!



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