By Christine Elder
A howler monkey hoots in the distance; his voice, one of the loudest in the animal kingdom, echoing throughout the mangrove swamp, a flock of white-crowned parrots flies overhead, speeding across the river canyon, cicadas buzzing their incessant zeee, zeee, zeee in the heat of a humid afternoon. This was the soundtrack of the lowland rainforest during our recent visit to the north coast of Honduras. My excuse for being there was to teach my week-long Birds & Blossoms Nature Sketching Holiday, and I’ll agree with my student Veronica who described her experience there as ‘deeply inspiring’.
Inspiring indeed. The rainforest is a riot of color, capable of moving most anyone to record their experiences there in one art form or another; be it drawing, poetry or photography. Rainforests form a multi-hued tapestry woven from the likes of iridescent violet-crowned woodnymphs, blue morpho butterflies, pink and orange heliconia blossoms and red-eyed tree frogs.
From the minute I stepped out of the airport shuttle van on to the grounds of our lodge I couldn’t help but be invigorated by my colorful surroundings, despite the jet lag from two days’ travel. I hadn’t even left the parking lot before I was drawn to a flurry of activity in the trees overhead; a mixed flock of green honeycreepers, chestnut-colored woodpeckers, keel-billed toucans and collared aracaris gorging themselves on ripe rambutan fruits.
Our hosts greeted us with a welcome drink of rum punch and a moist facecloth to refresh our weary bodies. But as I walked down the path to my cabin, my senses reawakened and I instantly forgot how tired I had been. Though it was only 100 meters away, it took me 30 minutes to reach my cabin (and it wasn’t because of the rum punch!)
The sights, sounds and scents were all so enticing, so overwhelming. A plump agouti ran across the path, followed by two bouncing young. A Montezuma oropendola called and swung from a branch overhead; sounding like a cross between crackling electricity and a bugle. The scent of oncoming rain was in the air so I quickened my pace and reached the cabin; a quaint plantation-style structure in the woods, just as a torrent of rain commenced. I laid down my weary bones on the bed and fell into a light slumber, serenaded by the raindrops on the roof and the chirping of a house gecko.
The rainforest had seduced me.
Videos from the Honduran Rainforest
Collared Aracari in Honduras
This bird is a close relative of the toucan, and was easily observed at Pico Bonito Lodge in December, gorging on oil palm fruits. Their bills are amazingly dextrous! My partner, Stephen Shunk shot the footage of this video, which I then edited.
Variegated Squirrel Enjoying Lunch
The variegated squirrel, named for its many regional color patterns, sat quietly on this limb for perhaps 20 minutes while we observed it enjoying the entirety of a hibiscus blossom. My partner, Stephen Shunk shot the footage of this video, which I then edited.