A Birder's Guide to Belize
 

Honey Camp Lagoon and
Freshwater Creek Forest Reserve

[January 31]  The road to Honey Camp starts from our RV campground and Tony leads our car caravan with his small lightweight truck.  Most of us are driving SUVs which soon are tested on the muddy road, especially as we begin to circle the large lagoon.  The heavy rains yesterday and much of the month have taken a toll on the road, the heavier trucks having pushed deep ruts into the limestone muck.  Each passing vehicle deepens the rut until the center hump scrapes low-clearance vehicles.  After surviving eight or ten of these bad spots, Tony’s truck hangs up on a particularly deep one.  He jacks up the body high enough to put several rocks under the wheel and tries moving forward again, to no avail.  We try pushing forward and then backward, but cannot dislodge the truck since the wheels do not get enough traction.  On Tony’s suggestion, I take him on ahead, using a double-ended driveway to get around the bad spot.  We quickly come to the residence where we intended to bird, and the manager has a tractor to come to the rescue.  The truck is easily pulled out.

 

… We begin our trek back, this time completing the loop around the lake on a much better road that I had scouted out while others were birding.  In route, I hear on the personal radio that they have spotted a White-necked Puffbird.

 

Description: The 55,000-acre Freshwater Creek Forest Reserve, established in 1926, surrounds Honey Camp lagoon and had been proposed as a national park.  Instead, the reserve was parceled up as private lots and there is no access to the more remote areas of the former reserve.  Honey Camp lagoon is a lake with three wooded islands.  The Maya used the lagoon area for ceremonies and residences from 1000 to 1500 A.D.  Now it is a favorite relaxation and swimming area for local people coming from Orange Walk Town.  Only the islands are protected from development.

Birding strategy: For the first part of Honey Camp Road, follow the directions in the book.  From the intersection with Northern Highway, exit the roundabout at the sign for San Estevan, heading east.  In 0.2 mile you will come to a Y-intersection.  For Honey Camp Road, stay right and at 0.5 pass Victor's Inn & Foodery on the right.  Victor’s offers Belizean food, rudimentary rooms for rent, and RV parking.  A Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl calls at night and Gray-headed Kite and Collared Forest-Falcon call in the mornings.  If you stay there, ask Victor or Tony for suggestions on private places with access to Honey Camp Lagoon.

The best birding is along the roadsides from miles 2 to 6 on Honey Camp Road.  If the roads are good, you can continue birding around the lagoon perimeter, although access is somewhat limited because lake frontage is private property.  Beyond the lagoon once was a fair-weather road that provided access to more remote areas of Freshwater Creek Forest Reserve, which lies within Corozal District.  The swamp and lagoon reserve boast an impressive bird checklist, including a number of species that are recorded for Corozal District only at this location.

At 2.8 miles is a general area where Gray-throated Chats have been found consistently.  In Belize this species can be hard to find, so knowing a few reliable spots will help in your search.  A T-intersection near here is a side road leading to cane fields.  Species found in the first quarter mile include Squirrel Cuckoo, Lineated Woodpecker, Yellow-olive Flycatcher, Bright-rumped Attila, and Mangrove Vireo.  Back on the main road, walking or drive-and-stop birding along the roadsides for the next three miles or so is worthwhile in the early morning and late afternoon.  Starting around 4.1 you can see marshlands and overflying Wood Storks, Snail Kites, and Common Black-Hawks, as well as nesting Green-breasted Mangos.  At 5.3 is Doubloon Bank Bridge, a narrow land-bridge with lagoons on both sides.  Look for Purple Gallinule, Limpkin, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Mangrove Swallow, and other marsh birds.

At 6.9, the road splits (N 18 03.20' W 88 27.40') into alternative directions leading around the lagoon.  Curve right and note the landmark Urbina’s Estate at 7.6, owned by an Orange Walk grocery merchant.  In 2008, the elaborate estate was improved and now offers a restaurant, guest house, tent camping, RV parking, and beach and water activities.  Bird the roadsides, but also look for access on the left to the lagoon as well as access roads on the right leading to the forested parts of the reserve.  At 10.6 the road splits again.  Curve right to continue around the lagoon.  Alternatively, take the left fork 1.5 miles to Napoli Restaurant & Bar, with lake access.  At 12.3 cross a clear-running creek leading from the lagoon and then pass through a wooded area with small openings where White-necked Puffbirds, Black-crowned Tityra, and six oriole species including Yellow-tailed Orioles occur.  At 13.7 you complete the lagoon loop, reaching the same Y-intersection as 10.6.  Turn right to return to Orange Walk Town and at 25 you will be back to the roundabout.

Concerns: Honey Camp Road can be deeply rutted after heavy rains, sometimes making the road impassable.

Location: N 18 2.97' W 88 25.92' at east end of lagoon. Starting with directions from Northern Highway, turn off at the Orange Walk Town bypass at the roundabout at 37.4 heading south or at 45.7 heading north on the highway, N 18 4.89' W 88 32.91'.

 

Inglewood Camping Grounds

Inglewood Camping Grounds is the best equipped RV park in Belize and hosts a resident Mottled Owl that can be heard at night and sometimes seen flying at dawn.  Plain Chachalacas visit at dusk.

Directions:  Heading west from San Ignacio, the entrance is at mile 56.1 on the Western Highway log.  N 17 8.34' W 89 5.25'.  This is only 7 miles from the Guatemala border.

ITVET campus

An excellent and newly constructed technical school, the entire area is enclosed by a high fence and 24-hour security guard.  The school welcomes RV’ers as a way to enhance their programs in tourism education and as a resource for ongoing funding.  Within two blocks of the RV campsite is Stann Creek and between the creek and the campsite some 84 bird species have been tallied, including Yellow-headed Parrot.

Directions:  The school is at mile 46.2 heading southeast on the Hummingbird Highway log, across from the intersection with the Coastal Highway.  N 16 59.82' W 88 18.99'.  This is about 8 miles from Dangriga.

Cuxlin Ha resort

Built along Jacinto Creek, the resort is not really a campsite, but readily accommodates RV’ers, including large rigs, with electrical cords and water hoses, but no sewage dump.  During a 2007 stay, 61 species were found at the resort, including Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, Ruddy Crake, Rufous-breasted Spinetail, and Crimson-collared Tanager.  A Striped Cuckoo called incessantly.

Directions:  Mile 90.3 on the Southern Highway log heading south and 4.6 miles from Punta Gorda.  The gravel access road is 2 miles long and can handle large rigs. 

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  Website created by Bert Frenz.  Last updated January 18, 2012.