My last full day in Honduras took me to Las Vegas, Santa Barbara overlooking beautiful Lake Yojoa. We started by meeting Leonel Chavez and his wife and son at their home where they served us a wonderful breakfast. Leonel showed us an injured rare bird he was nursing back to health (no rehabbers there, folks) and he was doing a great job. He also showed us his collection of Resplendent Quetzal feathers that he had found on his property.
There was a very heavy rainfall the night before. Very heavy. I think four inches of rain fell in a half hour. Now we were getting ready to climb up a steep trail with wet leaves and mud. But we had to get up to a clearing favored by the Wine--throated Hummingbird.
We drove as far as we could up the hill but had to stop where a dip in the road would allow us to go no further. The trail narrowed and got steeper as we went along. At one point when I thought we absolutely had to be close to where we were going, William announced “You will be glad to know we’re 60% there.” Huh?
Here’s a picture of Leonel cutting steps into the dirt on the trail to make it an easier climb. This picture was taken a week after I left Honduras. There were existing steps for part of the trail that he had cut earlier, but I’m glad this is being extended, as the steep climb will be easier and safer those who want to make this trek. It rained so hard the night before that I'm surprised the steps that were already cut did not wash away.
On the way up we stopped at some coffee plants and I got to see how the ripe beans taste right off of the plant. They are delicious and the coffee fruit is full of antioxidants. I even read that people who pick coffee beans have younger looking hands.
Leonel also found an interesting fungus. It looked like a flower or something you would find on a coral reef. I was not willing to find out if this mushroom was edible.
We also came across what I was told is a very dangerous caterpillar. If I had not been warned I would have been tempted to pick this one up. It looked unbelievably soft and silky like a freshly washed puppy. Apparently this critter is so poisonous that touching it will land you in the hospital.
We finally got to the clearing. There were lots of hummingbird-friendly flowers and a very large cleared area that I’m told is used to grow basil when it is in season. We spread out a large sheet of plastic and Leonel brought out coffee mugs and a thermos he had carried. I got my camera ready and we waited. Finally we saw our first hummingbird, a female Wine-throated who perched in a barren tree right in front of us.
I have no idea how long we sat there in front of this tree. I know it was several hours. We sat and waited, drank coffee and ate lunch. The female made two appearances and the male also made two appearances. They obviously made rounds over the area and this tree was one of their stops. They did not feed on the flowers here, but this tree was a favorite lookout perch.
I got the photographs and it was time to make it down the mountain. Leonel and I posed for one more picture. The hiking stick I'm carrying is pointing directly at the tree where the hummingbirds liked to perch.
On our way down we saw both a male and female Resplendent Quetzal up in the trees. This is a bird that people all over the world travel to Central America to see. My camera was packed away and by the time I got it out, put together and pointed at the bird, I couldn't focus it fast enough to capture it. This is my "not ready for National Geographic" picture of the Resplendent Quetzal. Next time.