Yucatan Peninsula - Jun 2007
Suzanne, Becky, Adriana, Gaby, and I spent five
days in Cancun and the surrounding area looking at ruins, monkeys, cenotes,
and of course, birds.
species--bird list is at the bottom of the page
thumbnail pictures for full-sized photos.
|We arrived late on Tuesday night and settled into our
hotel room overlooking the Caribbean. After a leisurely buffet
breakfast the next morning, we drove down the coast to our first stop,
the botanical gardens at Puerto Morelos.
Dreams Resort, Cancun
Iguana at Botanical Gardens
We spent the afternoon back at the resort,
playing in the ocean, watching Magnificent Frigatebirds and Sooty Terns,
and sampling the fine cuisine
Here we found our first ruins, and saw what they looked like before
they were excavated. We saw some fine iguanas, and got
our first look at the birds, too. Here were Altamira & Orange
Orioles, Banaquits, Yucatan Flycatchers, and Golden-fronted
Mayan Ruin at Botanical Gardens
Along the rock walls and
among the rocks, we found lots of iguanas. In the forested areas
were many Clay-colored Robins and our first Turquoise-browed Motmots.
The next day we left early for Chichen Itza, the magnificent
ruins in the center of the Yucatan Peninsula. We got there
before the hoards of tourists arrived, and were greeted by lots of
birds in the parking lot: Caribbean Doves and Ruddy
Ground-Doves, Social & other Flycatchers, Great Kiskadees, and
lots of orioles.
Chichen Itza ball court
The ruins were awesome, but tourists were
no longer allowed to climb on any of the pyramids. Some of the
friezes depicted scenes of jaguars, snakes, and eagles eating hearts.
Vendors plied their wares along most of the paths, and especially
along the ancient road to the sacred cenote (limestone sinkhole).
Here we saw many motmots and lots of feeding Cave Swallows.
At Gran Cenote you could swim into the caverns and look up at giant
One of the highlights of the trip was swimming in these cenotes.
We visited three of them, and really liked both the Ikkil and Gran
Cenotes. The water was clear and cool, and at Ikkil you could jump
or dive off a stairway built against the wall.
Girls at Gran Cenote
On Saturday morning we drove even farther afield
to Punta Laguna, where we hiked several trails in search of
monkeys and birds. We never did hear the
fantastic cries of the howler monkeys, but we did spot three of
them lounging on the top of a ceiba tree.
|A chattering call drew our attention to this
spectacular Black-headed Trogon. It continued to call even as
we all looked at it through our binoculars.
Spot-breasted Wrens called from the brush while vireos
sang from the tree-tops. In addition to the birds, the trails
were alive with insects, lizards, bromeliads and other
Owl Butterfly, Punta Laguna
One of these large and beautiful owl butterflies
actually landed on Suzanne's pants. In several places we
also saw the cryptically marked bark-loving butterfly pictured
below. We also saw Zebra and Erato Heliconians, two bright
and striking species.
Butterfly, Puerto Morelos
|I spent Sunday morning birding with Luis Ku west of
Puerto Morelos. He took me through some fine habitat, albeit
damaged by Hurricane Wilma, and we saw lots of great birds.
Some of the better sights were the many Rose-throated Tanagers,
White-bellied Emeralds, Yucatan Woodpeckers, Bentbills, a multitude
of flycatchers & vireos, and this shedding Grasshopper.
Luis was very happy to see a Flame-colored Tanager, a montane bird
only rarely seen during migration.
From the top of the "zip-lining" tower at the Puma Cenote, we
finally got good looks at the male Rose-throated Tanager.
Back along the main road, Luis called in this Violaceous Trogon.
One of the spectacular birds that was new for me on this trip was
the Turquoise-browed Motmot. At the Puma Cenote we watched
this individual feeding actively. As we were walking away
from the area, I heard a brief squawk, and looked around some
trees to see what had made the noise. To our amazement, a
boa had snatched the motmot, and was commencing to suffocate it.
We each snapped quite a few photos, Luis with his cell phone, and
I with my Canon SLR. It was a memorable way to end our
birding trip together.
Boa and Turquoise-browed Motmot
Boa and Turquoise-browed
While I was out birding with Luis, the
girls were enjoying the "Dolphin Experience" back at the hotel.
The vacation ended all too soon the next morning, when we flew back to
San Diego, collected the car, and drove home to Yuma.