Ecorana Environmental ltd., Blog at it's partner field staiton at the T.R.E.E.S

We are Ecorana Environmental, an eco-travel and environmental education company that specializes in creating and planning applied learning holidays for students, researchers, and ecotourists alike. Our team consists of travel and outreach specialists as well as research biologists and teachers who specialize in environmental education and conservation. We are well-versed in providing comfortable, safe, and exciting learning and travel opportunities to a range of clientele interested in environmentally and culturally conscious travel.Ecorana is poised to offer travel and education abroad opportunities in the diverse tropical country of Belize. Ecorana employs biologists who are well-trained in tropical ecology, herpetology, and ornithology, and as such, studies in tropical biology are the primary focus of our educational holidays. However, our team’s diverse interests and expertise allow us to plan all types of holidays ranging from wildlife ecotours to yoga retreats to West African drumming courses to ecological field technique courses. Wherever your interests lie, you can be guaranteed that Ecorana will be right there with you.Ecorana maintains values of environmental and cultural conservation and stewardship, hands-on education, and inclusive learning, and seeks to instill those values in all visitors to Belize. We work with many field stations and educational centers, scientists, educators, tour companies, tour guides, eco-lodges, and parks, both on the mainland and on the islands of Belize, to make sure you go exactly where you want to go and see exactly what you want to see and more!

One of our main partners is the Toucan Ridge Ecology and Education Society (T.R.E.E.S) and their field station in Belize. The objectives of this environmental education center are to host various cultural and environmental based student courses, workshops and event hosting in the heart of the beautiful Maya Mountains of Belize. We plan on providing our services to international students as well as providing opportunities for Belizean students.

For more information see our website at, or send us and email at or to go directly to the T.R.E.E.S website

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Interesting Trogon observation

 Last week during our Herp-o-thon, some of us where still looking out for birds and not just snakes and frogs! On our return walk from the waterfall hike we stumbled upon a really interested observation of a Violaceous Trogon (Trogon violaceus) in a Termite nest. These most beautiful birds in the same family as the Quetzal are found to next in wasp, termite or ant nests. While we had heard of this behaviour before we had never seen a live example. We were all quite pleased to come upon this female most likely incubating eggs in this large termite mound.  Apparently they will peck out a hole in the termite mound, in the following days the termites will fix up the mound and fill the damage part of their nest, thus creating a perfect little burrow in the middle of this well insulating and protected fortress, incroyable!

The waterfall!

Last week end during the famous herp-o-thon the whole TREES crew finally made it up the famous waterfall. This waterfall is very famous in Belize, everyday we have people stop in front of the property to take a peek and pictures of this waterfall. While it is very small during the dry season this 300 ft. waterfall can be gushing like mad after a big rainfall. We see this waterfall everyday from the station and were very pleased to reach it after about an hours hike in the thick jungle and a very steep climb. In addition to seeing many cool plants and animals we were rewarded by a cool fresh breeze at the bottom of the falls! We hope to bring our climbing gear next time and repel down this beauty.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Herping it up

We are just recovering from an exciting weekend spent "herping" with a visiting herpetologist from Save the Frogs, a non-profit organization based in California that is, you guessed it, saving frogs. We went out for two nights and two days with Michael Starkey and found some great new species on our property and on the neighbouring property and forest reserve! We also finally had the opportunity to hike to the famous waterfall which you can see from our place; every day tourists and locals alike stop on the edge of our property to oooh and ahhh at this site! So we were excited to finally get up there.

I think the highlight for the frog lovers was a beautiful Maya Mountain Frog, which is a rare species that lives only in the mountains of Belize. We couldn't believe our luck when our little herper dog Eva scrambled up a bank and scared this special little frog into the water right in front of us! 

Now I know the Moms and Dads and Aunties and Uncles are reading this so I probably shouldn't discuss the next herp we found, but I can't resist as it was beautiful and exciting. A little ways up the trail after finding this frog, Will, our guide from the nearby village of Mile 28, started yelling something to us slow pokes down at the tadpole pool that seemed pretty important. We ran up the path and he was holding Eva back, and told us there was a big Tommy Goff (a poisonous snake also known as the Fer-de-Lance) in the middle of the trail. The craziest (and scariest) thing is that it took each of us several seconds to even see it despite it being in the middle of the trail! That's why you need to always watch where you step in the jungle.

We also saw some pretty cool sleeping creatures on our first night out, including a beautiful little Pygmy Kingfisher and our first Green Iguana in trees overhanging the water!

Finally, no blog post is complete without a picture of yours truly holding a beloved critter. This lizard, which is aptly named the Old Man Lizard, is one of my personal favourites and we found him in our own backyard on Sunday! What a handsome little fellow, sure makes me happy to have him in my hands!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Critter of the week

I have not looked at the i.d books yet but this bug is super cool! My guess it is imititating a leaf with its really neat leg flaps (ok ok, I am no entomologist)! If anybody wants to do a little search and tell us at least what family at least this cool insect is in!

Pineapples are ready!


After successfully preventive the neighbours pigs from eating our growing pineapples, we can now enjoy our harvest! The only problem, we have now have too many pineapples and need to find new ways to cook, preserve, jam these sweet and juicy fruits! I have to say that I hope many of you will be able to come to TREES and try out our fully organic juicy pineapples!

New Hummer!

 The Brown Violet Ear (Colibri delphinae) has arrived at the TREES hummingbird feeders, this now being the fourth hummer species at the station. We are very excited by this new species which is considered an uncommon visitor to Belize. We are still unsure if it is a juvenile male acquiring breeding plumage or a moulting male acquiring his breeding plumage. He showed up on Monday and has been defending his feeder very nicely against the agressive White-Necked Jacobins. We will keep you posted on the trials and tribulations of the BVE! 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hummingbirds at TREES

We finally found some very decent hummingbird feeders a few months ago, I think it was December. Anyhow, we put them up about a month ago now, it took a couple of weeks to get the hummingbirds used to their new food source and now it feels like a little hummingbird airport out here. We are thinking we might have to walk around with safety glasses and hard hats. At present we have 6 feeders around the compound and about 20-30 hummingbirds from 3 species have been observed. It started off with the Rufous-Tailed Hummingbird and they were the sole feeders for a while. In the last week the White-Necked Jacobin has taken over and are now dominating the feeders. Yet, the little Rufous-Tailed are quick and sly and able to get to the plastic red flowers! This week we had a White-Bellied Emerald has joined the ranks. We just have to be patient now and see who else will join the TREES feeders!

White-Necked Jacobin (Florisuga mellivora)

Rufous-tailed Hummingbird (Amazilia tzacatl)

Friday, June 1, 2012

Cashew time!

It is now cashew season in Belize and at TREES. I thought that this fruit is so interesting that I wanted to write a blog post in honour of my favourite nut. The cashew nut is the seed of the cashew fruit from the cashew tree (Anacardium occidentale), a great yellow juicy fruit. One may now understand why these nuts are so expensive as each of this large fruit bare only one cashew nut each. While the fruit smells really good and appears to be quite tasty, it is quite bitter and unpalatable. I have seen some locals eat the fruit but it is not a common thing to see. I have not done intensive research or observation on this topic as of yet but it does appear that the fruits are sought after by numerous insects, birds and bats. When the fruits are ripe the cashew trees are filled like a morning Irwin one stop truck stop.

As I just mentioned, the fruits are not quite edible, the fruits are commonly used to produce cashew wine. The cashew produces a wine that is very tasty but really sweet, more of a fortified wine resembling Sherry. I don't recommend anybody drink too much of this stuff! I think it would resemble the time I drank a little too much port, and let me tell you, I remember it to this day.

Ok, back to the nut, the cashew nut is very important in Belize. A few communities in Belize base a large part of the there economy of the cashew. Every April, at the peak of production there is the Annual Cashew Festival in Crooked Tree (see We missed it this year but we are not going to miss it next year!

At TREES we have at least 3-4 large cashew tree on the property and we are getting ready for the harvest. Our trees are really big and probably produce a couple hundred cashew fruits each, this will make a medium size bag of cashews. Once we have collected the fruit, we will need to roast the nuts out of their toxic casing (containing urushiol), which can be fatal if eaten raw. The roasting process generally takes some serious precautions such as wearing gloves, a mask and a long sleeve shirt or severe burns can results. Once they are roasted they can be removed from their casing and finally enjoyed. I now understand why this nut is so expensive and sought after, respect to the cashew nut! We should be roasting the nuts next week, we will keep you posted on this next step.

If anyone is interested in learning more about the Cashew, its economic importance and many natural remedy uses I suggest you visit this site

Next time you enjoy this delicious nut you will be able to appreciate it even more, hmmm! Enjoy!