On my last afternoon in Belize, I “wandered at will.” Since I have been to Crooked Tree before, my plan was to stroll through the roads shared by free-roaming cows and horses and dogs, then pick up the Limpkin Trail back to Bird’s Eye View Lodge.
The Trail, mostly sand and sparse grass, runs parallel to the lagoon for a short distance before veering off into the woods where Bullet trees (the “crooked” tree of Crooked Tree), grows as well as the vines, shrubs and gazillion plants of this coastal plain.
I soaked up the solitude, was free to walk or stand and peer at whatever called to me. And what called to me was the squeals of a group of Groove-billed Ani’s thrashing around in the dead leaves along the trail. I looked down and then jumped backward. Ant swarm! Thousands of ants strung out in irregular columns, racing over rocks and shrubs and trees—anything in their path, including me, if I didn’t get out of the way.
Then, a Ruddy Woodcreeper landed on the tree IN FRONT OF ME
An Ivory-billed Woodcreeper hopped in with a cricket in its bill! I had been hearing this bird’s ghostly song ALL WEEK and here it was! All I had to do was stand still!
I did not want to disturb the feeding frenzy by using the flash on my camera. I don’t worry about these things much, and will put the camera down to soak in the sanctity of these unexpected moments. I tell myself to take a picture with my heart instead (but held the shutter down on the camera, just in case).
I reviewed the photos on my digital camera later, hoping for a few that might be salvageable. As I examined the Ivory-billed Woodcreeper, I spotted a mottled brown, vertical shape to its right. What was that? A Screech Owl, drawn by the other birds to an early evening feast? Or just a stick snagged in the tree?
I will never know for sure. I chalked it up to good luck. It reminds me that sort of random luck may be around more often than I realize. Because I am focusing on something else, I am not aware of its presence. But I am beginning to think it is there just the same, waiting for an opportunity to move in.