San Jose and Jimmy Cut to
Columbia River Forest Reserve
27] We decide to check out the Jimmy Cut logging road, shown on
20-year-old topo maps, before committing to an ill-conceived birding
excursion. We find the start of the logging road four miles from San
Jose and proceed for nearly a mile on the deeply rutted road, with ruts
made by vehicles much wider than our SUV’s. Although I think I could
make it to the end, I doubt the other vehicles could. And, besides, we
still seem to be a long way from deep forests, the place where we hope
to find the birds missing from our trip list. We decide there must be a
better way to spend the day and return to town for a late afternoon swim
in the pool.
Ecoregion and habitats: Appendix A,
Ecoregion 16, Toledo southern lowlands and foothills. Habitats include:
disturbed secondary broadleaved forested foothills (BFF3) leading to
primary forest at higher elevation, interspersed by small villages (PC).
Columbia River Forest Reserve is included in Ecoregion 15 with other
higher elevation southern Maya Mountain sites.
Description: Among the resident bird species
of southern Belize are those difficult to find because they inhabit
higher elevations. Before the hurricane that ravaged much of the
forested areas between Punta Gorda and the Guatemala border, some of
these birds occurred in the lower foothills. Recently (2011), the birds
have been returning in small numbers. However, to find the birds where
they are more likely to occur requires penetrating farther up the Maya
Mountains into the Columbia River Forest Reserve. Reaching an elevation
over 2200 feet, the logging roads near San Jose hold promise for finding
some of these species, so the site is included here. Scientific
expeditions have visited the reserve, reaching the site after long hikes
along the logging tracks. One of these areas is Little Quartz Ridge, a
five to nine-mile summit running from 2610-3412 feet elevation.
Birding strategy: Make prior arrangements to
hire Alfredo Sho as a birding guide. He lives in San Jose and can show
you the way, either to Jimmy Cut or Little Quartz Ridge. Leave Punta
Gorda very early in the morning so that you can start birding at a
reasonable hour. It will probably take at least two hours from Punta
Gorda to San Jose (if you are picking up a guide there) and backtracking
to Jimmy Cut, the start of the logging road. If you want to organize a
multiple-day hiking trip, it would be best to plan it for January to
March when it is drier and not as hot.
Follow the directions below, passing up Jimmy Cut
at 10.3. This is the birding road, but if you wish to pick up Alfredo,
continue on the main road to his house at mile 14.2, then double back to
Jimmy Cut. On the logging road, it is at least two miles to primary
forest and at four miles the elevation is still below 1400 feet. At
seven miles the elevation is over 2200 feet. Good luck on getting that
A different route is taken to reach Little Quartz
Ridge. Past trips have started from San Jose Village and hiked to
Edwards Central and Union Camp. A strong, experienced hiker can make it
to the ridge in two days without birding along the way, but most others
would require three days with minimal birding en route. Backcountry
throughout, there are no facilities at the ridge or along the way.
Concerns: The Jimmy Cut trip is not advised
unless you love freewheeling and have a vehicle equipped to handle it.
It would be best to take two vehicles in case you break down or get
stuck. A hike is required after you reach the end of the logging road.
Contact: Alfredo Sho, Maya's Inland
Expedition Group, San Jose Hawaii, Toledo District; (011) 501-722-2972;
firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information on Columbia
River Forest Reserve is available at:
Location: N 16° 17.50' W 89° 2.82';
elevation 675 feet, at start of Jimmy Cut, which is reached by San
Directions: From Southern Highway, zero your
odometer at the T-intersection with the San Antonio Road and continue
past Mafredi to the T-intersection at 4.0.
4.0 Turn right at the T-intersection,
continuing on gravel road toward San Antonio.
5.5 Veer right at the Y-intersection, leading toward Crique Jute
and San Jose. N 16° 14.99’ W 89° 0.66’.
6.7 Cross bridge and another at 7.1.
7.2 Crique Jute School. Wooden bridge at 7.7.
8.0 Lumber camp Salamanca.
8.2 Logging road on right, continue straight.
10.3 Jimmy Cut logging road (for birding) on right.
11.8 "Welcome to San Jose"
13.2 Concrete bridge.
14.2 Alfredo's home on right. N 16° 16.03’ W 89° 5.75’; elevation
Key species of San Jose: Little Tinamou,
Slaty-breasted Tinamou, Ruddy Crake, Gray-chested Dove, Striped Cuckoo,
Great Antshrike, Dusky Antbird, Paltry Tyrannulet, White-winged Becard,
Crimson-collared Tanager, Passerini’s Tanager, Buff-throated Saltator,
Orange-billed Sparrow, Green-backed Sparrow.
Key species of Columbia River Forest Reserve: [A
mixture of low and high-elevation species, M marks montane or submontane
exclusively or nearly so]. Great Tinamou, Crested Guan, Great Curassow,
Spotted Wood-Quail, Double-toothed Kite, Harpy Eagle [R],
Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle, Barred Forest-Falcon, Pheasant Cuckoo,
Crested Owl [M], Spectacled Owl, Chuck-will’s-widow [R,T],
Wedge-tailed Sabrewing, Violet Sabrewing, Brown Violetear [M],
Violet-crowned Woodnymph [M], Azure-crowned Hummingbird [M],
Stripe-tailed Hummingbird [M], Tody Motmot, Keel-billed Motmot
[M], Emerald Toucanet [M], Tawny-throated Leaftosser [M],
Scaly-throated Leaftosser, Spotted Woodcreeper [M], Russet
Antshrike [M], Plain Antvireo [M], Slaty Antwren [M],
Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher, Rufous Mourner, Speckled Mourner [M,R],
Lovely Cotinga [R], Rufous Piha, Plumbeous Vireo [M], Nightingale Wren,
Slate-colored Solitaire [M], White-throated Thrush [M],
Tropical Parula [M], Cerulean Warbler [M], Common
Bush-Tanager [M], Shining Honeycreeper [M], White-winged
Tanager [M], Elegant Euphonia [M], White-vented Euphonia
Return to "A Birder's Guide