The weather pattern changes this month in the Rio Dulce can be summarized in one word - HOT.  Apparently, Spring in Guatemala is the warmest time of year and we can tell it is right around the corner.  

Those who know me realize that this doesn't stop me from taking nature walks in the hottest hours of the afternoon, while Mark & the guys continue to work hard on Reach.

The least I can do is bring them cookies every day!

The fields where I'd been walking have been mostly bird-free, yet as with most things I can always find an unexpected benefit... like some workers asking to pose for a photo, turning cap askew for the cool look.  

Butterflies turned out to be abundant, so I began to nurture my inner lepidopterist.  

First, I couldn't help but notice all of the bright pretty ones.  

Julia heliconians

It's hard to believe that I even got a picture of this one who was pretty spastic flitting near the ground, yet I actually captured a few decent ones.

Mexican fritillary

Then, I began seeing little ones of all sorts hopping about all around me...

... on the rocks, jumping puddles, on trees & flowers, under leaves.  

Great southern white

The hamadras (cracker) butterfly announces its presence by making loud cracking sounds with its wings in courtship.

This yellow-swordtail was puddle-jumping after the rains with incredibly bright wings and distinctive swords!  He posed for plenty of time while sucking up moisture on the ground, but catching his colors in flight proved difficult.

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Once I started being able to identify a few, the types of butterflies became a bit more recognizable ~ longwings, skippers, metalmarks.  

Barnes' metalmark

This new identification challenge is a great source of entertainment for me (thank you Google), not to mention the sheer beauty of these critters.  Plus, you have to love all of the names that those real-life lepidopterists have come up with!

Rosita patch

Firestreak nyphidium

Eventually, the cold fronts have been replaced by evening thunderstorms that release the moisture from building cumulous clouds. 

It was then that I discovered the day after these rains is the best time to go searching for birds.  

On one such day, I came across some familiar avian friends from Panama, the white-ringed flycatcher, ruddy ground dove, hummingbird, plus a white-tailed trogon eating a berry.  

White-ringed flycatcher

White-tailed trogon

The variable seedeaters (male black & female brown) seemed jealous of her meal!  

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White-collared seedeaters are everywhere these days, and for some reason I'm charmed by the little white bags under their eyes.

A pair of yellow-winged tanagers were a beautiful new twist for me in another familiar bird species.  

Then I heard and saw some bigger (~2 feet) birds socializing on some vines and snapped a few photos.

This was quite a difficult identification, since I wasn't sure if they were related to trogons or jays.  

I finally came across a snapshot of one on the internet to allow me to identify the black-headed saltator, large seedeaters in the Cardinal family.

The one that got away must have been perched quietly somewhere right above my shoulder.  When he flew off with a whoosh, it appeared that I had a huge owl watching me the whole time!  At first I thought it was a red hawk, but the size of the head and shoulders led me to believe it was an owl.  Fantastic!

© M&M 2016