Monday, August 26, 2013

The Test of Time

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,

By caves where never sun has shone,

By streams that never find the sea;

Over snow by winter sown,

And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.

    J.R.R. Tolkien-Lord of the Rings

As I explore the life around me, I begin to understand those innermost feelings tucked away deep inside.  Tikal National Park will do that to a person.

Slaty-tailed Trogon
Among the ancient trees with their dark shadows, I began to see.   Every drop of water, moving leaf....every vibration.  By this time on our trip, we were onto the secretive critters!

Spider Monkey.  As he put his back lazily on the branch, his tongue caught of drop of water from the leaves.  Incredible!
I was reminded of my own mortality as I walked among the great Mayan pyramids.  And it kept me present. How many people over the course of time have walked these trails and thought these same things?
Red-brocket Deer
We walked gently on the paths before us under the overcast skies.  So many things crept before our eyes. We were not alone.
Emerald Toucanet
The tour groups were still far off.  "Would we like a tour guide?", they asked. Never.  I am now trained in the way of scouting for wildlife thanks to birding.  We silently walked the ancient paths. And we saw life everywhere!  Will humanity ever learn from the mistakes of past civilizations?  The Mayan civilization collapsed under its own weight.  They didn't just disappear.  Overpopulation was the main reason for their downfall in Tikal.  The rain forest couldn't sustain this large city. It makes me think of today's increasing world population.

Montezuma Oropendula
But my mind was constantly distracted by all the life around us.....hidden in the dark canopy.  It was there!  My friend Lynda did some amazing spotting.  Together we found so many critters.  Meanwhile the tour groups were getting louder in the early morning hours. They were coming our way!

Howler Monkey
Above or below, the creatures of Tikal roamed about us silently.  This wasn't a zoo.  This was wild. And it felt real.

We are so fortunate to have these places preserved so that future generations may witness a piece of history with both its current and former inhabitants.

Golden-fronted Woodpecker
We continued our treks into an area known as the "Lost World" or as we say in Spanish, "El Mundo Perdido"

The ruins were covered for centuries and today, archaeologists from around the world continue to excavate new areas.

The incredible part?  Every niche had a different group of birds and mammals!  As the tourists began to filter in more with their loud voices, we countered opposite into the silent corners of the park.

Crested Guan
Some birds silently stalked us like this Collared Aracari.  But a massive group of tourists came by with their loud voices and scared this bird away.  While viewing a Trogon only meters away, a woman and her posse spotted both Lynda and myself observing the birds up close.  She thought it would be fun to "CAW CAW!" at the male and communicate with the pair.  They flew away immediately and I threw the lady a look that could kill.

Collared Aracari
We headed towards the exit after a wonderful morning and afternoon at the park.  The pic below made me smile.

This is one of my favorite National Parks of the world. And it's Guatemala's number one tourist destination.

White-collared Seedeater
I had too many pics from our outing here and so I will break this up into two posts. The second will include a rare falcon sighting!

Social Flycatcher
In so many ways, the ancient Mayan culture was not so different from our own.  It certainly made for an exciting outing.   My friend Lynda introduced me to a new program on my cell phone known as Momentsia.

Ocellated Turkey
Here is a collage using that program with some of the work from Tikal.  My mother told me when I was young that I was the storyteller of the family.  I didn't know what she meant, but while in college, she did a crochet of me and framed it with the word "Storyteller" below. Today it hangs in our humble home. While I review Guatemala, I'll be continuing my adventures in Colorado, Arizona and Wisconsin. With migration happening this month and next, things will become very busy around Southern Arizona. So there's much more to report:)  Birders rarely get to sleep in these days:)

Today's post is linked with Wild Bird Wednesday!


  1. some fabulous birding, there! well done!

  2. Beautiful photos, especially that orange looking centipede. Figures a centipede from a Hispanic country would be arrayed in garment so brightly coloured.

    The Turkey was kool also. BTW, the Turkeys in San Diego County which are extremely abundant now are not the original breed first introduced. The first ones were from the Midwest and they did not fare very well. It wasn't till a Biologist got the idea to bring over Rio Grande Texas Turkeys that populations exploded.

    That actually explains why I saw Turkeys down in Anza Borrego State Park in a large Mesquite Bosque in 2011, but I had no Camera with me.

    Also at the end, did you do that collage on Picasa ?

  3. What an awesome spot for birding. And wonderful bird sightings, Chris! Your photos and report are great.

  4. Hi Kevin:) I use a program called Momentsia on my cell phone. It allows me to clump all these picks together....especially when I'm on a road trip bored:)

  5. Hi Chris. You ask in your post "How many people over the course of time have walked these trails and thought these same things?" I would say, 'probably not too many' - you have an exceptionally wonderful gift for observation and then expressing yourself with such poetic clarity. Few others could/would match this!

    A beautiful post, delightfully illustrated - thank you!

  6. Thank you Richard for those kind words. We live on such an incredible planet. There is so much yet I want to see. And the birds are taking me to places I've only read about in books. I am hooked and there's no turning back.

  7. My goodness, that is a spectacular millipede! It looks like a cartoon creature.
    Sorry about the lousy tourists. Such a shame that people behave so badly.

  8. I thoroughly enjoyed this post. I will never see this park so because of you I get to see this fantastic wildlife. For me, it is good just to know it is there, even if I can't visit.

  9. Great photos and a spectacular place to visit. Left to itself nature reclaims much of what humans have made.

  10. What an amazing place to visit with the beautiful nature and all the different critters.

  11. What a great place to go birding. Very interesting post.

  12. What an awesome tour- thanks for sharing!

  13. HI Chris Great report and wonderful selection of great shots

  14. Chris, you are indeed, a story teller, and I almost thought you were becoming a poet when I first started reading, but then I saw Tolkien! This was a lovely post with a story well told! I am so happy that you are able to see and enjoy the beauty of nature wherever you are and that you make the connections to history!

  15. This looks like such a land of ancient magic yet filled with life in the now. Too bad more visitors don't understand the meaning of quiet contemplation.

  16. Jeśli ludzkość nie zmądrzeje, to czeka nas to,co spotkało Majów. Miejsce niesamowite do obserwacji ptaków. Szkoda jednak, że są ludzie, którzy w tym przeszkadzają. Pozdrawiam serdecznie.
    If humanity does not wiser, it awaits us what happened to the Mayans. Amazing place for bird watching. It is a pity, however, that there are people who interfere in this. Yours sincerely.

  17. Wow! That is a remarkable set of birds! And what a setting to see them in. I think I said this before, but I've added another place to my "to visit" list.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne!

  18. Beautiful places and birds and such great photos. You have had so many exciting adventures, seen so many wonderful birds and visited such interesting sites. Thanks so much for sharing all this with us :)

  19. Oh, Chris, what wonderful insight into the history of the Mayan culture, and the beautiful park there with its amazing ruins. How I loved reading this! That silly woman with her CAW CAW! SOME people! They just don't understand the silence needed to be able to hear what nature has to say. The birds and animals don't put up with our noisy silliness.

    Thank you for your kind comments about the loss of my husband's Dad. And my health issues. It's been a busy summer for you! I haven't been surprised not to hear from you. Been so busy for me too, but for vastly different reasons. And my sister hasn't gotten back to me concerning a link I needed to find some help for San Pedro. But my sister's plate is always overflowing. So I have put San Pedro on a back burner, and hope things move forward to protect it, without my measly help. :-)

  20. Hi Marie:) I did some research on the San Pedro and there is something going on with Audubon and the question of the San Pedro river right now and I'm not going to say it looks good because that might jinx it but there are people working on that situation.

    Any help is always appreciated....nothing measly about that:) I think everything right now has "overflow" on it. I hope things for you become a bit more joyful:) I know how life can step at a time.

    The biggest challenge is that Rosemont Copper Mine. Now that will be devastating. They have been aggressively pursuing the destruction of the Santa Ritas. 20 years and they will be done....and how much damage will be done? For Capitalism? To me that's dangerous decision making and scary. The people, representatives and local governments have spoken. But the state has overruled all of them because apparently they just don't care. In this case, the buck is more important than saving some of our last unspoiled lands. Now that's frustrating and will do a lot more damage down the road.


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