Day 3 Title

Saying goodbye to Maorpho Falls
Jim and Marguerite say Goodbye to Morpho Falls

We had a very late start on the third day. Morpho Falls was so beautiful that none of us wanted to leave. All three species of morpho butterfly - white, brown and blue - continued to fly high above us toward the falls. We toyed with the idea of staying another day, but the thought of the weather changing and us getting trapped by high water made the decision for us. As it was, we never broke camp till 11:00am.

Ed did some more collecting around the falls. The pool at the base of the falls was full of fish life, and the edges of the pool supported some interesting shrimps and crabs. The puddles of water around the camp were filled with tadpoles and eggs. The roar of the falls blanked out any bird calls and prevented us from recording bird songs. But the beautiful violet sabre-wing hummingbird was a constant companion during these first few days.

“...the beautiful violet sabre wing hummingbird was a constant companion....”

The day was filled with pushing and pulling the kayaks through rapids after rapids. The Sibun was still quite small here, so the rapids that we were able to shoot without dragging were few and far between. Much of the river was often covered by thick bush. We often had to machete a path through the bush while lowering through rapids at the same time. Due to the heavily loaded and top heavy kayaks, more than once we would tip the kayaks over while attempting a ride through a set of rapids. The helmets and life jackets where a necessity.

Cutting through bush blocking river
Cutting a path through the dense river vegetation

In-between the rapids and the blocking vegetation were quiet pools. These brief moments of tranquility allowed us to observe our surroundings. Bird sightings also increased while traversing these small pools. A white hawk led us down the river most of the day. Violet sabre-wings would dart across the river and the mystical call of the slaty colored solitaire, a true denizen of the deep forest, would often serenade us.

Due to the late start, we pitched camp late, on a rocky bend in the river. Much of the geology consisted of dark slate-like rocks. Many of these rocks had what appeared to be crinoid fossils in them. Ed and Tony search both sides of the camp for further evidence. Were these fossils or just artifacts of erosion?

Crinoid examples
Examples of the “so-called” Crinoid Fossils. (R) Perfect museum crinoid fossil for comparison. Not threads on both.

“...the mystical call of the slaty colored solitaire, a true denizen of the deep forest, would often serenade us....”

The Maya Mountains have a well known geology. Some of the oldest rocks in Central America lie strewn about the Mountain Pine Ridge. Everywhere else around these old metamorphic rocks lie remnants of ancient coral reefs. The limestone hills to the north,west and south attest to these ancient reefs. But crinoid fossils had only been found sparingly, and much further south around the upper reaches of the Sittee River. Ed and Tony spent most of the evening debating the existence of these crinoid fossils here.

The geology and wildlife was changing as we slowly move downstream. The river was perceptibly widening, the rocks were turning to boulders, and the wildlife sign was increasing. Ed was in heaven as he seemed to find a new species of aquatic insect (one he hadn’t seen before in Belize) on nearly every foray he took. The photography was difficult. During the day it was impossible to pull out the cameras as we were constantly wet, and the danger of tipping over was always present with the heavily loaded kayaks. We were looking forward to some wildlife sightings in the coming days.

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