7 - 21 February 1999
by David and Yvette Bree
Yvette and I spent two weeks in the Yucatan and Palenque, primarily birding, but we will also happily switch to mammal, herptile, and butterfly viewing if the opportunity arises. We also enjoy some general sightseeing. We flew into Cancun, rented an automobile and drove everywhere. We put 3065 km on the car, saw 233 species of birds, and enjoyed temperatures warmer than Canada can offer at this time of year. The following report provides some information about our trip that might be of interest and some help to other birders planning a trip to the area. (Thanks to all the previous BIRDCHAT reports that helped us).
This report comes in three parts. Part A comprises general travel notes as an introduction to travelling & birding in the Yucatan and to a lesser extent in Latin America based on 4 trips we have made over the years. Anyone who has already travelled to this part of the world will probably not find anything of great interest in this section, but someone planning a trip for the first time may get some useful impressions. I also stress that things we say here and in other parts of this report are just personal impressions. We do not speak Spanish and travel these countries in a haze of ignorance that does not mute our enjoyment of the natural world but does leave us short in appreciating the culture of our hosts. Some impressions we give here may therefore be misleading based on our lack of information. Don't take what we say as gospel (This sounds like some kind of waiver!). There is no doubt we would get much more out of our visits if we spoke Spanish.
Part B is the basic outline of our trip. For no particular reason this section is divided by location, rather than as a day by day itinerary, and sites are ordered from increasing distance from Cancun. It is divided into the three regions we visited: The Yucatan, the Tabasco-Chiapas Marshes and Palenque. After a brief introduction to each area, the sections include: 1) a site description, including accommodations and costs; and 2)birding opportunities and birds seen. Part C of this report is a complete listing of species seen along with some general notes.
PART A GENERAL TRAVEL NOTES
We have always enjoyed the freedom that a rental car gives when we travel. Particularly when it comes to getting to areas that have good birds, it is just so much easier to drive yourself. We tend to save money by camping or staying at lower and mid-priced hotels whenever possible and by making at least two meals (cold) a day ourselves from locally purchased supplies (as the years go by, there is a distinct trend to spending more time in hotels and less camping). The infrastucture provided by Mexico is generally very good for this kind of travelling, but there are few camping opportunities. Mexicans are just not a camping people and we didn't even take camping equipment this trip.
Air Flights and Car Rental
Being a big resort area, Cancun is easy to get to and easy to get a
rental. We decided to go on this trip on 3 days notice and were
able to get a charter flight. Car rental was through Budget and
very efficient. Pre-booking cost from Canada was $240.00 US/week
unlimited mileage. Budget and a few other car rental
at the airport have their offices a short drive away from the terminal
there are no signs to tell you where they are. A free shuttle
by the terminal and will take you to your company. Just ask where
get it, most people here speak English and will direct you. You
get your car and drive away without any hassle of city driving as the
is well south of the town of Cancun.
Being a resort town many of the cars rented are "fun" cars with cut-away or canvas roofs. For secure and comfortable driving make sure you pre-book a car with a real roof! I personally would stay away from "Trackers" like the plague. If you really want a 4-wheel drive try and get a real one. It will cost more but it will be worth it. So saying, I don't see a real need for a 4-wheel drive in this area. I have read reports about car rental agreements in Mexico stating not to take your car off paved roads. I saw no mention of that on our agreement. The unpaved roads we were on here were fine as long as you didn't want to travel too fast and if you're birding you don't. This is not always true. Roads we have been on in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic and West Mexico (admittedly years ago) would have welcomed a 4-wheel drive, for the clearence if nothing else, but we got by on them in a normal car.
The car we got was a Chevy Monza (never heard of it) but it was a pretty good car. We didn't ask for air-conditioning but it came with it and it was welcome. The Yucatan gets very warm. If you are planning afternoon driving you might consider getting this option. Also note most cars are manual transmision. A benifit in my mind but not for everyone, so check before you book.
The roads were generally very good in Mexico with a couple of exceptions. The main problem is maintenance cannot be relied on, so large potholes (baches) can come out of nowhere. Also, all towns have killer speed-bumps called topes. These are designed to make you come to a near stop to be able to get over them. They work a lot better than a sign and if I lived along a highway I'd want one in front of my house too. But they can seemingly crop up anywhere along the open higway or in town. I was quite impressed as almost all road hazards we came across on this trip, including topes, were marked with warning signs 300m in advance - most but not not all. The bottom line here is you can't really take your eyes off the highway - and for peace of mind, don't drive at night. We won't even get into the potential of people or livestock on a dark road.
My greatest complaint about Mexican roads is no shoulders. The bush comes right to the edge of the road, and the pavement usually drops precipitously at the edge of the highway. While I am in favour of the extra habitat, when it comes to birding you can't pull over and look at something when you see it. Very frustrating and very few solutions offer themselves. You can sometimes find a pull-off. Unfortunately pull-offs, which are usually just 1 car in size, are inevitably used as garabge dumps. I have seen more than one lifer standing on garbage but the setting and the smell is not pretty, and probably not too healthy either. Definitely for quick looks only. The Yucatan is kind of unique as the roads are almost all straight with no hills. You can sometimes find yourself all alone on the highway and for a quick look we often just stopped on the highway with the hazards blinking. We found this technique OK, even with traffic coming up behind us as they had lots of room to see, but if vehicles are coming both ways at once... a scary situation. All road stops had one eye on the bird and one on the road, both ways (need two people or a head on a swivel). The other problem was that most good roads, even ones that seem quiet when driving them, are actually pretty busy. So if you find a place to pull over and you start walking along a bit of space at the side of the road the vehicles rushing by make it less than peaceful, even if it is safe. The bad dirt roads make better birding tracks if you can find them.
We found the higways well sign posted, even through town, and it was pretty easy to navigate. Roadmaps are needed of course and little sketch city maps in travel guides come in handy (we prefer the Lonely Planet series for the number of low-priced accommodations mentioned). Easy navigation has not always been our experience in Latin America. Getting through towns can be particularly difficult as major roads and back streets tend to look the same once in town. We used to resort to following trucks that looked like they were going through town, and have pulled a compass out on more than one occasion to see what direction we were going when we did get out of town!
The only place we didn't find signs was along the new highway south of Cancun to Talum due to construction. I suspect they will have nice big green signs up eventually but until then you have to look sharp or ask for the turn-offs to Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Akumel, Coba, and Punta Allen.
Generally the drivers in Mexico are good and courteous (better than many places in N. Am.). But, as many countries where driving has a strong machismo association, speeds can be fast and drivers are a touch aggressive. This is not bad but someone who drives hesitantly stands out here and increases their risk. Particularly in town, know where you are going and make decisions decisively, the other drivers expect you to drive that way. Even when you take the wrong turn, don't hesitate, just drive on and turn around when you get a safe chance.
Gas all comes from the national Company PEMEX. Gas stations are not as thick on the ground as in Canada or the US, usually being only in middle size (often only one) or bigger towns, and at some major highway intersections. Fill up when you can. Most stations seem to sell unleaded gas now. Price was about 4.3 Pesos a litre. It doesn't vary much. PEMEX is also usually the best bet for a washroom stop & cold drinks whether you need gas or not. They are usually OK clean, but be prepared, toilet seats and toilet paper are an option not usually available away from the tourist areas. Carrying a pack of pre-moistened hand wipes is a good idea too.
We went through a lot of military/police check points this trip. By my count our trunk was searched 7 times, once pretty thoroughly. Most police don't speak English and they seem less than willing to use sign language to make their points. But they have guns. They were always polite and sometimes when you couldn't understand them they just waved you on. Sometimes not. A bit unnerving but no real problem.
Almost everyone seemed to speak English in the Cancun-Tulum
that not much.
Knowing just a few words can get you a hotel, food and sometimes directions. A Spanish-English dictionary is useful for figuring out menus and road signs - you should know what Peligrosso means before you get to it - but it is a bit unwieldy for actual conversations. Figure out your key words before you need them. I used to practise my one phrase a few times before walking in anywhere and just hope they didn't ask any questions.
Your own clinic/doctor will tell you what you need to know I'm sure. We took Malaria drugs but didn't have time for Hepititis A. Also don't drink the water, and don't eat anything that is not well cooked or you peel yourself. The first is easy. Water quality is a big issue and most Mexicans seem to be buying water themselves, so it is availabe everywhere. We picked up several large jugs at a Supermarket and put them in the trunk for the trip. Many hotels also have bottled water in their rooms.
Not eating uncooked food is a drag. Most resturant meals come with a side salad, or uncooked chopped garnish. You can't eat it and I want to. We bought fruit and vegetables and peeled our own and/or washed everything in a bath of chlorinated water (chlorine from the Supermarket) and then rinsed in bottled water. On an African overland trip we once took, all vegetables were washed in a solution of dilute Manganese Permaginate. Neither is probably a good idea in the long run but when you only have two weeks why take a chance?
A new product that is on the Candian Market is a hand moisturizer/ anti-bacterial gel mix. "Guaranteed to kill 99% of all germs". A lot of sales clerks seem to be using it. We brought a small bottle with us and it was a welcome addition after stopping at the PEMEX while on the road.
We took insect repellent but the mosquitoes were hardly noticeable by Canadian standards so didn't use it. Did manage to get bitten by many unknown insects and picked up ticks at Cozumel. Guess we should have used the repellent.
We found Mexico pretty expensive, generally the same as Canada for most things. On the other hand, getting cash is getting easier all the time. We got most of our money from ATM machines, they were easy to find in the bigger cities and were all bilingual, even in non-tourist areas!! This is cheaper too. Cash exchange rates while we were there were 9.7 to 9.9 pesos to the US Dollar, and 5.9 to 6.2 pesos to the Canadian Dollar. Our Mastercard transactions gave us 6.6 pesos to the Can $, and the ATM also gave us 6.6 but charged us $3.00 or $2.00 Canadian every time we used it.
Landing in Cancun you don't even have to change money if you don't want to. Almost everything in the Cancun to Playa del Carmen corridor was quoted to us first in American dollars. After we enquired about pesos, they would give us a price that was usually 10 pesos to 1 US dollar, so by paying in pesos you were actually getting a deal. I suspect if the official exchange rate were 10.2 to 1 the street exchange would still be the same, but a better deal for us to pay in pesos with money from an ATM machine or by MasterCard whenever possible. The travel guides warn about using ATMs at night where people can see you getting money, but I did my transactions during the days and never felt insecure. However I wouldn't use your creditcard as an ATM card, nor would I travel with only one ATM card if I depended on it. They can be too easily "eaten". We travel with 2 ATM cards each, for two different accounts. I had one machine out of 4 say my card was expired and it was going to confiscate it (all amid embarrassing alarm sounds), but it didn't. It didn't give me any money either though so we went to a different bank.
Besides the resort hotels in various locations, Mexico generally has a good network of business hotels and cheaper hotels within city cores. They ranged in price from 180 to 300 pesos for business hotels, and 440 pesos to 550 for average Resort hotels. We saw one resort hotel in Playa del Carmen that was displaying rates of 4600 pesos a night!!!!! and they looked like ordinary people staying there too. The hotel you pick should include a secure place to park your car in and one that you can get your car out of early enough to go birding.
While camping spots are few we did see a couple this trip near Uxmel and at Palenque for both tents and RV's.
I wish I knew. Never really know what to do. At home all I ever tip are waiters/waitresses. So they got the same here. I also figured out by observation that the boy/girl that packs your bags at the supermarket checkout gets about a peso. I think you are also supposed to tip chambermaids and gas station attendants. The gas attendants got about 5 pesos, as did the guys that looked after parking lots, but I have no idea if this was in line with reality or not.
Never really a problem, but in a foreign country you never really know what stupid things you do through ignorance. Generally people are friendly wherever you go. It seems a strange relationship but the poorer the people are, the more friendly and generous they are. Mexico is pretty average. We do tend to err on the side of caution. We don't drive at night, or even go out much at night and we avoided Highway 186 across the bottom of the Yucatan based on a US Government travel advisory, even though I heard no first hand problems about that road.
When driving a car it seems to be a good idea to make sure you have a secure place to put it at night. Most hotels offer this, so there must be a need. Just make sure you can get it out early in the morning to go birding! Similarly, if you are driving in the city and it has parking lots that offer guarded parking there is probably a reason for it. We ignored this seemingly obvious rule, and to save two bucks in San Jose, Costa Rica we parked on the street. It was in broad daylight with lots of people around but our car was broken into and bags stolen. Our only negative experience in Latin America. We also always carry our most valuable stuff with us - money, documents, cameras, binoculars and field guides. It makes for a couple of heavy-ish packs (Howell and Webb is a killer) but sneak theft is much more likely than direct confrontations.
I read on one of the BIRDCHAT reports that owning a gun in Mexico is
They must have meant a hand gun, because in addition to all those
of police and military, we saw a lot of men biking along with large
rifles (or shotguns). Presumably they were out hunting
heard hunting-like shooting at Celestun). Mind you with all that
I never saw anyone carrying anything they shot. I just hope they
safeties because the way they are slung, at some point when they go by
the barrel is pointing at you. As some Aussie's who were biking
Mexico said, "We always make sure we are extra polite and friendly when
pass these guys". What can I say, they always smiled and waved
so probably not a big deal, but I come from a generally gun-less
They make me nervous.
PART B - SITE DESCRIPTIONS - BIRDS AND OTHER STUFF
All costs quoted here are in Mexican Pesos, the exchange rate was
about 10 pesos to the American Dollar, and about 6 pesos to the
Canadian Dollar. I'll let you do the math. See the general
notes for more details on
the exchange of money.
Part 1 - The Yucatan
I was amazed as we flew into Cancun to see the great extent of natural habitat left in the area. The land around Cancun is one large, flat, nearly unbroken expanse of forest. And as we were to find out, a forest very important for many of "our" wintering birds as well as resident species. That's the good news. The bad news is that it can be hard to bird. Problems are access and the difficulty of seeing very well in the thick, scrubby forest that is the natural habitat. Also, being flat and forested, it was fairly monontonous driving from place to place with very little in the way of scenery. This is particularly true in the east and north of the pennisula. A little more variety can be had in the hilly country around Uxmel and along the coasts. Most roads pass through good habitat but roadside birding is less than enjoyable for the reasons outlined in the previous section under "Driving Around". Best bets are the ruins, which are national parks with lots of natural habitat, and along quiet side roads. Both can be found in the Yucatan.
I found the first couple of days rather frustrating. The bush was thick and birds hard to see and it got very hot. By 9-10am it was pretty quiet. The most active birds in the forest were usually winter migrants. Nice to see in their alternate home but I was hoping for more "Mexican" birds. I don't really know if the birding improved, if I got used to the area, and/or I just started relaxing but I started to appreciate the experience more as the days went on. While we didn't rack up huge bird lists, every day we added to our list and got better at "knowing" the more common birds, so a positive experience in the end.
A total of 177 bird species seen on the Yucatan part of our trip. It could easily have been higher but we made no real effort at night birds, shorebirds, swallows, or, due to personal bias, pigeons. We also saw a lot of perched raptors we didn't ID either because there was no place to stop for a look along the road or there was and we couldn't figure it out. I find sitting raptors a bit of a problem. Of the many Kingbirds seen, the few that made noise were Tropical. Many Couch's may have been present.
Resident birds common to abundant at most every stop with appropriate habitat, included Black and Turkey Vulture, Great-tailed Grackle, Tropical Mockingbird, Social Flycatcher, Tropical/Couch's Kingbird and to a lesser extent Greater Kiskadee, Yucatan Jay, Groove-billed Ani, Ruddy Ground Dove, White-winged Dove, Masked Tityra, Melodious Blackbird, Hooded Oriole, and Golden-fronted Woodpecker. Ferruginous Pygmy Owl was often heard in the early morning if not actually seen. Of the migrant birds seen Magnolia Warbler, American Redstart, White-eyed Vireo, and to a lesser extent Myrtle, Black-throated Green, Black and White, Hooded and Palm Warblers could usually be counted on in scrub/forest habitats. The Hooded were my favourites, not a common bird where we come from and the males in full breeding plumage seemed to glow in the understory shade. A birder familiar with warblers would be at an advantage here, while one unfamiliar could look forward to many new discoveries.
A major resort city but not really that big. A lot of places around here seem to use the term "eco". From what we could see it only meant an attraction was outside and had nothing to do with any environmental ethics. All birding reports suggest leaving Cancun ASAP so we didn't bird there but we did drive in for supplies. Even though it was a Sunday it was easy to get money from ATMs (two tries) and shop for supplies. "Supermarkets" are modern stores with everything from food to shirts for one-stop shopping. There are several in Cancun and "Walmart" is open 24 hours so you can always get supplies in Cancun. Did see a nice Short-tailed Hawk driving along the highway south of town.
This is a small village about 35 km south of Cancun. This was one of the pleasant surprises of the trip. After seeing Cancun and Playa del Carmen on either side of it, Puerto Morelos is a quiet haven in the tourist mad rush, rush, sell, sell, sell atmosphere of those other places. There are tourists here but many seem to be staying for extended vacations and there is a slower more natural feel to the place. A number of accommodations options seem to be available. A nice looking hotel on the beach seemed expensive at 670 pesos/night but the studio apartment we got for 300 pesos was a deal. This was the nicest place we stayed during the whole trip. Partly because it is a new building and I don't think anyone had ever used our room. It had a fan, great cross ventilation with good screens on the windows, a hot plate and small refrigerator and Mangrove right outside the window! Really meant for long term rentals but they seemed happy to rent it to us for two nights. There was also a Laundromat on the ground floor. Only 25 minutes from the Cancun airport, it was the perfect spot to stay in the area before we had to head out early next morning. The only drawback to the place was it had no parking. I was assured it was safe, so parked the car on the road in front, under a street light. It is such a quiet little town, I didn't feel too worried. Wonder what the place will be like in 10 years?
The town also boasts a money exchange booth, small supermarket, and several restaurants off the main square. To find the "studio" rooms take your first left after driving into town from the main highway.
Puerto Morelos is just a kilometre north of the Jardin Botanico Dr. Alfredo Berrera. The Gardens are well sign posted and lie right beside the main highway. It has excellent habitat but is only open 9am to 4 or 5pm (depends on whether the attendant wants to stay or not), so is not available for prime-time birding. We spent a whole day there and saw good things but it was slow going. An excellent facility and certainly worth supporting. Entry costs 40 pesos/person.
Some early/night birding options include a road directly across the highway from the exit gate of the Gardens. Might be good for Nightjars but we didn't try. This road is paved but straight and quiet, so it is safe to pull the car over and bird along it. It goes through forest that is a little more scrubby than found in the Gardens. We found it very good birding with the usual road-side garbage at only a few spots. I don't know where the road goes as we never made it to the end. We were actually able to get in 2 hours birding along here on our last day, even with our early flight out. Saw the only Orange Oriole of the trip here!
The road from the highway to Puerto Morelos is two kms long and runs through mangrove. It is too busy to park along but we parked in town and walked back along the shoulder, which by Mexican standards is very wide. Safe enough to walk but you can't get the car onto it. Saw a good selection of waterbirds and some small birds, including Mangrove Vireo, but even at dawn the road is busy and noisy. No rails but I think heard some from our room during the night.
Birds seen for two mornings of birding in the whole area included: Frigatebird, various herons, Chachalaca, Red-billed Pigeon, Aztec Parrakeet, Yucatan Parrot, Squirrel Cuckoo, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Blue-crowned Motmot (just a glimpse), Black-headed Trogon, Greenish Elaenia, Gray-collared and Rose-throated Becard, Mangrove and Yellow-throated Vireo, Lesser Greenlet, Red-throated Ant-Tanager, Black-headed Saltator, and ten migrant warblers. The best of these for me, and the only one only seen on the trip, was a Worm-eating Warbler, a lifer!
The area was also the best place we visited to see Yucatan Vireo which seemed common, as was the Black-cowled Oriole. It was also the only place we saw White-bellied Wren (2 occasions), Tropical Gnatcatcher (1 in Gardens), and White-tipped Dove which was common in the Gardens. Also one of the few looks at Yellow-throated Euphonia (1) , and Blue Bunting (1 male) we got on the trip. I suspect the latter species is pretty common in the Yucatan but we didn't do much grassland/edge birding. When we did we saw lots of brown buntings. Many of these were probably Blue Buntings as well as Indigo but the quiet road was the only spot we saw a male.
The gardens is also a great place for mammals. The spider monkeys are most active in the late afternoon. Between 4pm and 5pm they put on a show in the parking lot. There is also a semi-tame Grey Fox and Agouti running around and we were interrupted at lunch by a mating? pair of arboreal rats running around the thatch of the shelter. I don't know the species but the female? was a beautiful rufous colour. Yucatan Squirrels were also present. Surprisingly it was not the best place for hummingbirds or butterflies with few flowers out at this time of year.
Wasn't sure we would go here but Budget offered a promotion where you could leave your car at Playa del Carmen and get one on Cozumel for no charge. It wasn't until we were told in the Budget office at Carmel that this promotion was cancelled, did we notice the big black "cancelled" stamp on our contract. Nonetheless, the staff at Budget were very accommodating in arranging just such an exchange for us with virtually no notice! It was easy to get to Cozumel after that. With the car and most of our belongings left in a secure parking area, the ferry was a short walk away. A little expensive at 51 pesos per person one way.
I can't say I liked Cozumel much. The town was just too much of an artificial place. If you went just to party and have fun it would probably be alright, but I kind of like to do that sort of thing within my own culture - less embarrassing that way. And it was expensive!!! We bought a bottle of water for 28 pesos that cost 6 on the mainland! An OK hotel with fan cost 180 pesos and we had to insist on the fan! The car (a Tracker) had to be parked on the street. I was apprehensive but the Budget agent didn't think it was a problem.
We were only on Cozumel one morning so probably didn't do it justice. Dawn found us along the paved but quiet road leading to El Cedral ruins. A bit of scrub forest along here was hard to see into. Did see 2 Caribbean Doves and 1 Cozumel Wren. The town at the ruin site had lots of gardens and grassy fields and was quite birdy! Saw lots of Painted Buntings and Green-breasted Mangos and brief looks at Yellow-billed Cuckoo and a female Red-legged Honeyeater. We also managed to pick up a few ticks here too. We didn't stay too long as we felt a little uncomfortable staring into people's yards, though no one seemed up yet. Didn't go into the ruins here but it might be a good spot.
Drove back to Chankanaab National Park 7km south of the town. We had actually missed the sign made up of ten foot stone letters earlier, probably because it looked like just another resort sign along the highway. It was open at 8am, but very expensive to get into at 66 peso/person and not a great birding spot. It was really more like a small city park, not too natural and very small. The birdiest part was the nursery area and Mayan ruin walk. We did manage to see the Cozumel variety of Peppershrike, and Yellow Warbler. Yvette saw Stripe-headed Tanager and Yellow-faced Grassquit but I missed both. Bananaquits, Yellow-throated Warblers (surprisingly similar) and Northern Parulas were common, as was the Mango, and to a lesser extent the Yucatan Vireo. After walking back and forth a couple of times did finally see a nice Cozumel Vireo at close range. Saw only one female Cozumel Emerald and only briefly.
The park is a pleasant enough place and has a good beach that starts to get busy by 10am, but we were a little disturbed by the captive dolphins, which you could swim with for $50US. The small lagoon that is the reason for the park is quite interesting. Swimming is not allowed in it anymore, but looking down from the edge you can see many colourful reef fish. The park is also a great place for lizards with two types of large iguana, and several smaller species providing photo opportunities. There is also a display of ruin pieces that have been taken from around Mexico. We found this a little disturbing as well, too much like looted treasures, but it was tastefully displayed with a little bit of interpretive signage. They also have a good "Mayan homestead" re-created that offers interpretive possibilities. No signs were present but there may be personal interpretation at certain times.
We drove around to the east side of the island for the scenic possibilities and were not disappointed. This windswept side with blue ocean and sky and rocky shoreline was very pretty. We added Roseate Spoonbill, Blue-winged Teal, Willet, Royal Tern, and Ruddy Turnstone to the trip list.
I get the feeling that there are better birding locations on the island. There may be a track into the lagoon at the south end and there is a rough track that goes up the north-east coast. The road to the San Gervasio Ruins just inland from town would appear to have possibilities. Unfortunately while the ruins are 6km in from the highway the access road is gated at the highway and I suspect you can't get in early. Cozumel may have more to offer with an extended stay but with the high degree of commercialism and cost, we were happy to get back to the mainland.
One of the ruin sites and a standard birding stop. We stayed at the Club Med hotel (440 pesos/night). The cheaper hotel in the small town looked OK but parking was again on the street. A couple of restaurants to choose from. We didn't eat at the hotel because we thought it would be too expensive. Over the course of the trip we discovered the price of a basic Mexican style meal was pretty much the same everywhere, about 35-40 pesos each. Beer however could vary widely. Here it cost 18 pesos in the hotel and 9 outside (4 in a supermarket and 36 at the airport!!). The road to Coba from Tulum was unmarked due to construction and was so potholed over the last 18 km that driving was slow.
We visited Coba twice, not because we liked it so much the first time but because it seemed the best place within a few hours of Cancun (we had not discovered Puerto Morelos at this time). Our second trip provided us with our favourite birding moment when we came across our first and only tropical forest ant swarm.
The ruins are definitely the best place to get into the forest to bird and they open at 7am, an hour earlier than most other archeological sites. You have several other options for that first hour of daylight. Walking between the hotel and the ruins along the road allows you to look into the small fringe of marsh along the lake. Not really a lot in this marsh/lake but you can see a few herons, cormorants and grebes. By looking very carefully in the short grassy areas you might see a Ruddy Crake. Saw a lot more vegetation moving than birds but persistence paid off. Jacana and Collared Seedeaters were also present. A couple of Ridgeway's Rough-winged Swallows sat on the power lines near the ruin entrance allowing a close study.
On our first visit we went to the far side of the lake by the little town. The lakeshore was shrubbier here than on the hotel side. We saw a number of birds here but nothing that didn't turn out to be fairly common. The hotel gardens also have birds and were a nice first introduction to Yucatan birds. Mostly Hooded and Altimira Orioles, but a Bat Falcon was seen perched on the tower above the Hotel.
It seems to me early morning birding along the paved road into Coba from the highway might be productive as well.
The ruin zone itself has lots of tracks through lots of forest. I found our first visit rather frustrating, it being hard to see anything in the thick forest. By our second visit we had got better at birding the ruins. Generally the edges of the clearings the ruins are in seemed better than the forest tracks, but finding an ant swarm along the main forest track was a real bonus. Attending the ant swarm were Tawny-winged Woodcreeper, Barred Woodcreeper, Eye-ringed Flatbill, Ovenbird, 3 or 4 Red-throated Ant-Tanagers, a pair of Grey-headed Tanagers and a couple of Melodious Blackbirds. All very active and seen at close range. When we checked the swarm later at about 10am only the Ant-Tanagers were left, having being joined by several Groove-billed Anis.
Other birding highlights at the Coba ruins over our two visits were Squirrel Cuckoo, Black-headed Trogon, Collared Aracari, Ivory-billed Woodcreeper, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Greenish Elaenia, Yucatan Flycatcher, Rose-throated Becard, Clay-coloured Robin, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Scrub Euphonia, and a glimpsed Yellow-throated Euphonia. Also Red-crowned Ant-Tanagers, Black-headed Saltators, and Yellow-billed Cacique.
Punta Allen Road
This road leaves the main Cancun - Tulum road opposite the road to Coba. It is a 50 kilometre dirt road through a biosphere reserve to a small fishing village. We drove this road as an afternoon trip, more as a sightseeing excursion than a birding trip. The road itself got very pot-holed after 20 kms and we gave up trying to get all the way to the end and back in the time available. While there were some scenic vistas the majority of the road travels within a band of coastal scrub allowing neither a view out to the ocean or into the mangrove lagoon. The birding highlight came when we turned the car around at about the 25 km mark. A number of black birds were flying back and forth across the road. Upon stopping to investigate we were rewarded with some good views of the skulking Black Catbird. There seemed to be about 8 birds in the area. A little further back down the road we saw one more tucked in the mangrove calling away. Other than one other, these were the only sightings of this species we had all trip.
Felipe Carrillo Puerto and the Vigo Chica Road
Well documented as a good Yucatan endemic birding road, we too made this a stop on our trip. The town has a couple of hotels and we stayed at the El Fayson y El Venado (Pheasant and Deer). An OK hotel with fan for 130 pesos.. The parking was in a non-secured lot across from the side of the hotel. I didn't feel very good about it but seeing the police car parked outside it next morning seemed a good sign.
The road itself is well marked from the traffic circle along the main road but you have to turn again to the left after a couple of blocks before the main road dead-ends. This road for the first 3km has a lot of construction along it and a lot of small agricultural plots and firewood gathering along it for another 10 km. I don't know where the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Park starts but I can see the forest down this road being slowly degraded over the next few years. We didn't go further down the road than 20km. I think it would be at least that far again to the fishing village of Vigo Chica.
The semi-open area of the disturbed area was very birdy and we were able to get good views of Yucatan Parrot (the yellow-lores are more distinctive than the dark ears), and White-fronted Parrot, Aztec Parrakeet, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Canivet's Emerald, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Lineated Woodpecker, Olivaceous and Ivory-billed Woodcreeper, Yucatan Flycatcher, White-browed Wren, Lesser Greenlet, Peppershrike, and 1 female Rose-throated Tanager (only one of trip). Less satisfying glimpses of female Blue Bunting, Black-headed Saltator, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Scrub Euphonia, Green Jay, Turquoise-browed Motmot, and Collared Aracari were also had. The usual abundance of the more common migrants as well.
We drove from Valladolid to Merida on the toll route. AAA warns that all toll routes in Mexico are expensive and some are ridiculous. This one cost us 70 pesos for about 70 minutes of good driving. The whole Cancun-Merida stretch apparently costs 170 pesos. I don't know what category that fits into. The toll road itself only goes about half way to Merida. We stayed at a business hotel in Merida by the Airport. Nothing great, air-conditioning, attached cafeteria, secure parking with a 24 hour attendant. Planes didn't fly all night. A little expensive at 300 pesos but it was getting late.
We didn't bird in this area but it strikes me that the toll road might offer typical Yucatan scrub birding opportunities. We got on at Valladolid but there was no toll both until near the start of the free road an hour down the road, and there are many return ramps along the way that would allow you to return to Valladolid and get off without paying? Anyway the whole road goes through good bush, is two lanes each way and has virtually no traffic. I don't know if you are really allowed to stop on these roads but it could certainly be done safely and birds might be quite good in the morning.
The Lonely Planet guide warned that there are few places to stay in Celestun so we stayed in Merida and drove there early in the AM. It takes about 1.5 to 2 hours as there are some slow towns to go through. However we found several small hotels in Celestun and stayed at one the next night for 180 pesos, right on the beach, with fan, and balcony. There is a very expensive all-inclusive, but very nice-looking resort hotel 11 km north of town, but the cost of 1700 pesos was too much for us even with the excellent habitat at your doorstep. The town might get busy on a weekend but it looked like there were lots of places to stay and a variety of restaurants to choose from. Only small stores to get supplies from.
Sisal further north up the coast was a very tidy looking town, more prosperous looking than Celestun, but it didn't appear to have any hotels. It looked like the well-to-do from Merida might have weekend houses there.
We followed the birding report of Bouwman, van Kleunen, and van der Vliet from Feb 1997 for finding birding spots here but had rather different luck. We never really found a road to any mangrove south of town to look for Rufous-necked Wood-rail. This area of town is a working fishing port and no road we took looked like it was going to get to any habitat. We did see a Grey-necked Wood Rail on the centre-line of the highway driving through the mangroves on the way into town. It gave us a good view before flying back into cover. We reached the bridge going into Celestun shortly after dawn and the bridge area itself was worth a stop. You can park on the town side of the bridge where all the boat-trips leave from. We got there early enough that the boatmen were not around to hustle us to go on a bird-watching trips with them. But they came later. At the bridge we saw several herons, ibis, cormorants, frigatebirds, a perched Great Black Hawk (probably) and the only flock of Flamingoes we would see. They were not too far from the bridge but we didn't see them there again. The little mangrove along the causeway leading from the bridge into town gave us Mangrove Cuckoo, Lineated Woodpecker, a flock of 100+ Stilts, and Mangrove Swallows.
We then went toward the beach and took the last road to the right. This is the only road out of town into the scrub north of town. It is a good, quiet dirt road for 11 km until the fancy resort, after which it turns into a dirt track. This track is supposed to go all the way through the nature reserve to the town of Sisal. We went up about 5km but didn't feel that secure in our low-clearance Monza, it probably would have been OK though. This whole road is good for birding in the early morning and we spent the better part of two mornings along it. Mangrove Vireos and Cardinals were the most common birds, both singing constantly. Hummingbirds zipped everywhere but most seemed to be going elsewhere. It wasn't until the second morning that we determined most of them were Mexican Sheartail, with a couple of Buff-bellied and Cinnamon mixed in.
Other highlights along this road were Zone-tailed Hawk (seen both days), Chachalaca, 3 different Ferruginous Pygmy Owls, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, many White-lored Gnatcatchers (all Black-capped form), and Altamira Orioles. This was the only place we noted Common Ground Dove, and it was certainly the only place where they outnumbered the Ruddy Ground Dove. Of special note were the Yucatan Bobwhite which were common, flushing up from the road as we drove along in the early morning. To see them well took some patience. We would drive until we saw them flying across the road way up in front of us (not yet flushed), then stopping we would inch the car forward and scan the area where we last saw them. Usually a few would run across the road, some lingering long enough for a good look, but none exceptionally close close. If you got too close they just ran into the scrub. But all this and no Yucatan Wren. I don't even know if we heard any. All wren-like calls I checked out were always Mangrove Vireos.
As if in compensation we did see an Aplomado Falcon. It was perched on a house and we studied it at a distance for some time before it flew away to the north. Howell has this species as extirpated from the Yucatan so I don't know if this is a significant sighting or not. (It was a lifer for us!). Later in the day we saw a second Aplomado perched in a dead tree along the causeway into Sisal. It was closer but the light was worse. It might possibly have been the same bird.
Tracks run off this road to the right into the saltpan lagoon country. Most of these salt pans are lifeless but if you can get far enough out to the main channel you can find shallow bodies of water with lots of activity. One such pool gave us our only Reddish Egrets of the trip (about 12) plus lots of other herons and about 60 White Pelicans. A pair of Vermilion Flycatchers had also set up a territory near-by.
Not trusting our car over the dirt track to Sisal we decided to drive around and see what the road looked like from the other side. The causeway into Sisal had some activity along it including the only Gull-billed Terns of the trip along with other herons, warblers, and Red-winged Blackbirds (they sounded like they had an accent to me). We found a road south from Sisal beyond the harbour and the garbage dump but it looked even scarier here (easy for a car/truck with more clearance). The vegetation here was much lower than on the Celestun side with lots of Agave. None were flowering but we did see our first Mexican Sheartail here. We were to get better looks next morning outside of Celestun. Driving back we saw a Lesser Roadrunner on the highway just outside of Hunucma, unfortunately it was dead. But it wasn't there when we went by earlier so must have been running around in the middle of the day.
We never looked into a boat trip into the lagoon. There is certainly lots of boats to take you if you want to go.
The other place of interest we found in the area was the road to Tadidz ? This is a dead end road that heads south just outside of Kinchil on the way to Celestun. It is signposted but was not on our map and we wondered if it went through to Campeche. It didn't. It only goes a few kilometres and dead-ends in a picturesque little village. All the houses in this part of the Yucatan are made of small flat rocks and often have rock walls around them, and this village was the best example of that architecture we saw. The road runs through an agricultural area, tall dry grasses and orange groves. It is paved and narrow, but with periodic swellings where you can pull over, which we did when we saw a Zone-tailed Hawk. While looking we heard chipping from the grasses, (at 12 noon no less). Investigating we discovered, Yellow-faced Grassquit, Tropical Peewee, unidentified Wren, brownish buntings, and my favourite bird of the trip - a pair of Grey-throated Chats. This is the only place we saw a male so it was well worth a dead-end trip. I wish we had seen this species more often. I also get the feeling there were Grey-crowned Yellowthroats in there but the quick pieces of birds I saw could have been the Grassquits. If we had not discovered this on the day we were leaving the area, I would have liked to try some early morning birding here to see what this habitat had to offer.
The Uxmal area is in the Puuc hills so there is a little more scenery to look at when driving around. There are a lot of new highways by-passing Muna that looked like they went through good habitat. They might be good for early morning birding if you could find a pull-off.
Uxmal itself is a ruins park surrounded by high price hotels. I must say we didn't like the atmosphere at all. Stopping at a roadside restaurant in the area for a pee break I bought a Coke. It cost 18 pesos!! (Incidently the cheapest place to buy pop is from a pop machine for 3 pesos. Small shopkeepers charge 4 to 6 pesos but 18 pesos was just too much like price gouging to me). Luckily the area was saved by "Camping Sacbe".
"Camping Sacbe" is about 20 minutes south of Uxmal, just south of the village of Santa Elena. It is a quiet, small campsite run by a Mexican/French couple. The establishment has a decided European air about it. Very simple, it offers, camping and electrical hook-ups for RV's and 3 "rooms" with fan. The shower and toilet are shared in a separate building. The rooms are basically a concrete cubicle, but clean and reasonably airy. Cost is 80 pesos. You can order a meal (choice of two - one vegetarian) for about 35 pesos. These were simple but very good and everything was cooked!! So we could eat everything on our plate. The gate to the campground is locked in the evening but opened early enough to get out birding. The only drawback was they only sell water, but a quick trip into Santa Elena to buy a couple of cervesas to bring back and enjoy as the sun went down solved that problem. I can't recommend this place enough. I thought it delightful, being both cheap and relaxing, and with some great birds (see below) as a bonus. I think it would be a fine base to use for several days to explore the surrounding birds and ruins. Its spartan accommodations may not be for everyone however.
The evening spent at Camping Sacbe produced a few birds. The highlight was the very cooperative Turquoise-browed Motmot that poised for pictures in the setting sun right outside our room. We also saw Cinnamon Hummingbird, and good numbers of Yucatan Jay, Melodious Blackbird, Altamira Oriole as well as the more common birds. Paraque called at night.
The early morning was spent at the well-documented track just north of the Uxmal ruin entrance. I found the birds tough to see here in the thick scrubby forest. Three hours yielded Bat Falcon, White-fronted/Yucatan Parrot (not seen well enough), Ferruginous Pygmy Owl (heard), Northern Beardless Tyrannulet, Boat-billed Flycatcher, Gray-collared Becard, Rose-throated Becard, Clay-coloured Robin, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, some migrants including 7 warblers highlighted by a Blue-winged and 3 Parulas in one binocular view. Also saw Olive Sparrow, Altamira Oriole, and Yellow-billed Cacique. There was more here, (wrens, hummingbirds) but couldn't get our binocs on them.
There was also a potential birding road just on the south side of Camping Sacbe which we didn't see until we were leaving in the late morning. It appeared to go along the edge of forest and grassland and may be worth a visit, especially if you are staying at the campground.
We did not go into the ruins due to the lateness of the hour and the premium price charged for access at these ruins. (50 pesos I think, rather than the normal 20 plus parking fees).
Another of the ruin parks in the Puuc hills. This is a small park but we decided on a late morning stop as we drove by. We found the ruins very interesting and the almost deserted park an enjoyable and surprisingly birdy stop. Entrance fee was 14 pesos.
A two hour stop from 9:30am to 11:30am was warm but yielded some good birds. Following a track that led through low scrub forest to a clearing filled with bee hives proved most exciting. Spot-breasted Wren and Red-throated Ant-Tanager were seen. Then on hearing footfalls in the dry leaves I spotted about a third of a Thicket Tinamou walking quickly away. Yvette didn't see anything, so we quickly backtracked and started to cut through the apiary to try and head the bird off. Our Tinamou hunt was short-lived however when Yvette was stung right between the eyes! With visions of killer bees in our heads we beat a hasty retreat. A couple of bees followed us for a short time but after about a hundred yards we were alone with no further damage. I was able to walk back later and collect our dropped sunglasses without incident, despite lots of bees buzzing.
Luckily Yvette does not react badly to bees and we were able to continue around the one big clearing. Cave Swallows were building nests in the ruins. I don't know if they would be allowed to nest here or if the ruins custodians would remove them. The open forest at the end of the clearing had a good selection of birds with Turquoise-browed Motmot, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, N. Beardless Tyrannulet, Greenish Elaenia, Yucatan Flycatcher, White-browed Wren, Peppershrike, and Olive Sparrow being the most notable. The Prehensile-tailed Porcupine seen in a tree behind the "palace" was a bonus. On the highway outside the ruins the distinctive silhouette of a Lesser Roadrunner was seen crossing the road.
While not a birding stop, Campeche was a convenient place for getting more money (lots of ATMs) and shopping (2 supermarkets). It is also a good starting point for the long drive to Palenque. We stayed at the Hotel Americana in the historic part of the city. While not city people we could not help but be impressed by this part of town. The streets were clean, and presumably very secure as I saw more police cruising the streets here in a few hours than on the rest of our trip combined. The multi-coloured buildings and remains of the old walled city provided a pleasant and interesting area to walk around. Much of the city population seems to promenade along the waterfront in the evening. We liked the hotel, fans and screened windows for 234 pesos. This hotel has an agreement with the Ramada hotel for parking, which means a secure 24 hour guarded lot, but it's about a two block walk from the Hotel America.
PART 2 - TABASCO-CHIAPAS LOWLANDS
Highway 186 south of Escarcega on the way to Palenque runs through an extensive wetland area. This just looks like fields with some wide, deep water-filled ditches running along the roadside, but I think a lot of the fields were quite wet under the grass. There were almost no areas of open water but apparently the area has been undergoing a bit of a drought so I don't know if that is normal. There are not many spots to pull the car off the road, but the highway is flat and straight so we hazarded a few stops right on the highway. In their 1997 report Bouwman et al. mention impressive numbers of waterbirds seen. We did not really find this to be the case but there were certainly some areas with good concentrations, but nothing was seen that you would have to go to Mexico for. Highlights were lots of Crested Caracara, Wood Stork, Limpkin, and a stretch of highway about 1 km long that had 100s, 1000s? of Yellow-crowned Night Herons filling the trees.
The road from Emilio Zapata to La Libertad, which crosses the border into Chiapas, is slower and safer to bird along but again no real areas of open water, just wet fields and a few trees. A nice adult Bare-throated Tiger Heron right beside the road was the only bird of note. Also a lot of big frilly Iguanas in the roadside trees. What we did discover alongside this road about 6 km from Emilio Zapata is Rancho Santa Lucia.
Rancho Santa Lucia, Chiapas
While stopped outside a ranch to look at parrots in some tall trees we were approached by the owner of the ranch. Lucky for us Rafael spoke very good English. Rafael Azcuaga is one of those "enlightened" ranchers who, while faced with all the problems of managing a working ranch, is very concerned with the natural world and is trying to enhance his property for native wildlife. He has only taken over management of the family ranch in the last year and he would like to develop his property in the future for ecotourism, including birding tours (some on horseback), lagoon trips and accommodations. He invited us in to look around his property. We spent a very enjoyable 2 hours that afternoon, and came back for a more extensive tour a couple of mornings later. Besides seeing some good birds, we got some insight into a working ranch and discussed the potential of his property for ecotourism. We are sending him a record of our sightings and a bird book so he can learn some of the English names of birds he sees. I am sure other birders would be welcome to help document what he has on his property.. At this stage he is still developing his potential, later I would imagine he would like to start getting some income from his investment. Anyone interested in getting in touch with Rafael can get his address from us. While Rafael does not have accommodations yet, he tells us there is a very good hotel in Emilio Zapata just 6 km away and the town of Palenque with its horde of hotels is about a 40 minute drive.
Rancho Santa Lucia has a number of different habitats. There is a river that runs through the property and a strip of trees along this provides a band of easily accessable riparian habitat to explore. We saw some good birds here in our afternoon walk, including very good looks at a Black-collared Hawk. Rafael says this "red eagle" is resident in the area. We also saw 4 Kingfisher species, Belted, Ringed, Green, and Amazon. The Ringed was most common with at least three pairs flying around. They seem to nest in a road bank along the road just past the ranch entrance. In the Garden we saw Blue-grey Tanager, Green-breasted Mango and surprisingly a Turquoise-browed Motmot. Howell does not map this species on the Atlantic slope of Chiapas. Rafael has seen it quite often around his place.. Lesser Nighthawks flew up from their resting places among the trees. A possible White-throated Flycatcher was seen. This highland bird was well seen and it does winter in lowland areas but it's an Empidonax... so what can I say. There were also Howler Monkeys in the trees.
The fields and main road through the ranch yielded a number of open-country and edge birds, some not seen elsewhere. Red-tailed Hawk nest here, as do Crested Caracara. A distant falcon was seen and Rafael picked the Aplomado out of the field guide as the falcon that nests on his property. Double-striped Thickknee are more often heard than seen on the ranch but we saw a pair along the road between the Ranch and Palenque, as well as a Laughing Falcon. Aztec Parrot, White-fronted Parrot and a pair of Yellow-headed Parrots were also seen. The later are regular visitors in the early morning but are not resident on ranch lands. Other good birds for us included Vermilion Flycatcher, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Painted Bunting, Orchard Oriole, and Altamira Oriole. Rafael said the sorghum fields can produce a large variety of seedeater types but we only saw the common White-collared Seedeater.
At one point driving along the roads near the ranch we saw numbers of Vultures like Turkey Vultures but they looked small. At times we imagined? yellow heads but we always saw these birds in places we could not stop. I asked Rafael about the possibility of Yellow-headed Vultures and he says he has only noted them a couple of times in his life, so they are unlikely but possible.
The last habitat we visited on the ranch was a mangrove-fringed lagoon. A quick tour in a canoe yielded a number of herons and other waterbirds. The highlights were close views of Amazon Kingfisher, Black-bellied Whistling Duck and 1 immature Bare-throated Tiger Heron. In total we saw 61 species on the ranch.
We spent a total of 3 nights in Palenque. We found the combination of rainforest, ruins, and the hilly topography very attractive. Also we had to wait three days to see the place in sunshine. We treated ourselves and stayed at the Hotel Nututum. A pricey (550 pesos) resort hotel on the way out of Palenque towards San Cristobal. I was taken with the description in the AAA guide of a resort with "extensive jungle gardens beside a raging mountain river". While it wasn't actually paradise, it was still pretty nice and offered some decent birding before the ruins opened and between rain showers. The main drawback was the military checkpoint between the hotel and the ruins which we had to stop at several times a day. There are lots of other hotel possibilities in Palenque. The two camping places along the road to the ruins looked like cheaper places in good habitat. They seemed to have camping and RV hook-ups, but I don't know what the rooms were like.
The ruins were my favourite place visited in Mexico. The bird list was not extensive for the three days but we saw many forest birds not seen elsewhere on this trip. In addition the ruins were fascinating, and the locale beautiful, despite the rain. When you arrive there is a gate at the edge of the park but this never appeared closed. A few kilometres up the road there is a big parking lot and some modern buildings that look like a visitor centre and ticket office. They're not. There is a restaurant and shops by the parking lot and a museum and education centre? a short way off. Unfortunately the museum was closed for renovations (it looked quite nice through the window). There is a foot access gate into the park across the road from here but you can't buy tickets there. To get tickets follow the paved road up hill(2km?) until it ends in the parking lot. Tickets (20 pesos), souvenirs, and snacks all available here.
We spent three partial days at the ruins birding. Day one it poured most of the day. Day two it rained off and on and day three was sunny. This is pretty normal I take it. Fortunately for us a big cold front dominated the three days we were there and it never really went above 27 Celsius, with lows of 17. Plenty warm enough for me considering the humidity but some of the locals were wearing parkas in the early morning chill. I gather it is usually much warmer.
We found the birding here very good, even with the weather. We spent most of the time birding in forest and forest edge. The birds were surprisingly easy to see along the edge of the forest, less so along forest tracks. A total of 67 different species were seen. Common "Mexican" birds in this habitat included Red-billed Pigeon, Aztec Parakeet, White-fronted Parrot, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Great Kiskadee, Social Flycatcher, Masked Tityra, Clay-coloured Robin, and Brown Jay. There were many common migrant birds as well, Redstart and Magnolia Warblers were thick. Also common were Blue-grey Gnatcatchers, Wood Thrush, Gray Catbird, White-eyed Vireo, Yellow, Black and White, and Hooded Warblers, and Baltimore Orioles.
The combination of treed gardens and some wilder growth along the river produced some good birds. A highlight was the large spreading Cedra odarata tree (the hotel labels some of their trees). It was flowering with no leaves. Peering up at it in the morning was like looking at a flowering bush at home but the clouds of "insects" hovering around it were all hummingbirds!! There were easily 20 individual hummers buzzing around plus orioles, woodpeckers, Summer Tanagers, and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks all in the tree at once. Unfortunately the tree was so tall we could only ID the female Green-breasted Mangos, but still a great sight.
Other birding highlights from the hotel grounds were, Wedge-tailed Sabrewing, Collared Aracari, Keel-billed Toucan (flying over), Blue-grey Tanager, and Yellow-winged Tanager. Only the Toucan was also seen at the ruins.
Best places for us were around the museum at the bottom of the hill and around the edge of the ruin clearings. Just sitting on a ruin looking over the forest was so pleasant that we didn't cover half of the area in the three partial days we visited.
Some of the better species only seen near the museum were Bat Falcon, Lineated Woodpecker, Black-crowned Tityra, Red-legged Honeycreeper, and a great view of a Yellow-tailed Oriole. Something small and intensely green was seen with the Honeycreepers. Only a glimpse as it swooped out from the canopy for an insect before returning, never to be seen again. Possibly a female Honeycreeper but it might have been a Green Shrike-Vireo. Do they hawk insects?
Up top in the main ruin area the birding was very good between the entrance and the first ruin on the left. This small building was an excellent spot to sit in the morning with the sun at our backs, looking downhill into the forest. Birds seen along here for the three days included Squirrel Cuckoo, Violaceous Trogon, Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Ivory-billed Woodcreeper, Streak-headed Woodcreeper, Rose-throated Becard, Lesser Greenlet, Scrub Euphonia, Red-throated Ant-Tanager, Crimson-collared and Scarlet-rumped Tanagers, Buff-throated Saltator, Southern House Wren, Band-backed Wren, and Yellow-billed Cacique. Of the migrants we also saw the only Philadelphia Vireo, Wilson's, Chestnut-sided, and Kentucky Warblers of the trip along here.
Grupo C was very good to us on day three with Violaceous Trogon, Collared Trogon, a pair of Red-capped Manakins, and Barred Woodcreeper. The Chestnut-coloured Woodpecker along the track to the grupo was a marvel, close enough for another in our series of bad but memorable bird pictures.
One of the highlights of the trip for us was siting on top of the "Palace" , under cover, watching the birds feeding in the tree tops through the pouring rain. Keel-billed Toucans, Blue-crowned Motmot, Chestnut-headed and Montezuma Oropendolas were all seen here. Strangely the Toucans were quite noticeable on that first rainy morning with 7 or 8 seen, but we did not see them again.
Also seen were Pale-billed Woodpecker and Long-tailed Hermits. The latter were seen throughout but always on the wing as they fed on long red flowers.
A thoroughly enjoyable trip for us. I hope this long and rambling report may be of some help to other visitors. If anyone has any questions or comments please feel free to drop us an e-mail.
David and Yvette Bree
LIST OF SPECIES SEEN ,WITH NOTES
|Thicket Tinamou||Crypturellus cinnamomeus||In briefly seen at Labna Ruins. Unfortunately in stocking it further Yvette got stung between the eyes by a bee so we left.|
|Least Grebe||Tachybaptus dominicus||One glimpsed along rd outside Campeche|
|Pied-billed Grebe||Podilymbus podiceps||One seen in Lake at Coba on both visits|
|Magnificent Frigatebird||Fregata magnificens||Fairly common, seen soaring on all visits to coast, particularly common where fishing boats come in.|
|Neotropic Cormorant||Phalacrocorax brasilianus||Fairly common in most fresh-water habitats|
|Double-crested Cormorant||Phalacrocorax auritus||Fairly common in most marine habitat|
|American White Pelican||Pelecanus erythrorhynchos||Seen at Celestun and at Rancho Santa Lucia, Chiapas. Truly impressive numbers (300+) being seen at the later.|
|Brown Pelican||Pelecanus occidentalis||Fairly common, seen at most marine coasts visited|
|Black-bellied Whistling-Duck||Dendrocygna autumnalis||Seen a few times in the wetlands of Tabasco and N. Chiapas.|
|Blue-winged Teal||Anas discors||Only seen twice. 1 individual in a marine mudflat S of Campeche and about 100 ducks in a small freshwater pond in east coast of Cozumel Is.|
|Greater Flamingo||Phoenicopterus ruber||Group of about 30-40 seen from bridge at Celestun at dawn.|
|Reddish Egret||Egretta rufescens||Local but common in brackish water lagoons at Celestun and a few.|
|Tricolored Heron||Egretta tricolor||Fairly common, seen in most freshwater and coastal environments|
|Little Blue Heron||Egretta caerulea||Common, seen in most fresh and coastal environments|
|Great Blue Heron||Ardea herodias||Common, scattered individuals seen|
|Great Egret||Casmerodius albus||Common, scattered individuals seen|
|Cattle Egret||Bubulcus ibis||Fairly common, usually seen in fields with cattle|
|Green Heron||Butorides virescens||Fairly common, usually seen in mangrove|
|Yellow-crowned Night-Heron||Nyctanassa violacea||Fairly common, seen in many marsh/mangrove areas. Large numbers (100's) roosting by side of road in Tabasco along highway 186|
|Bare-throated Tiger-Heron||Tigrisoma mexicanum||Two seen. A nice adult beside road outside E. Zapata, Tabasco, and a imm at lagoon on Rancho Santa Lucia|
|White Ibis||Eudocimus albus||Seen in a couple of places, most common in Celestun area and in Tabasco marshes|
|Glossy Ibis||Plegadis falcinellus||One at Coba|
|Roseate Spoonbill||Ajaia ajaja||Two flying down coast on east side of Cozumel|
|Wood Stork||Mycteria americana||A few along highway 186 in Tabasco Marshes|
|Black Vulture||Coragyps atratus||abundant|
|Turkey Vulture||Cathartes aura||Very common|
|Osprey||Pandion haliaetus||A couple along coast south of Campeche and in marshes of N. Chiapas|
|Great Black-Hawk||Buteogallus urubitinga||One perched at edge of mangroves near bridge at Celestun.|
|Black-collared Hawk||Busarellus nigricollis||One at Rancho Santa Lucia, Chiapas. The "Red Eagle" of Rafael's was found in the Riparian habitat near the ranch. Had very good looks. It makes the strangest most un-raptor like call, weak "echhh".|
|Grey Hawk||Asturina plagiata||Fairly common. Seen throughout perched beside road|
|Roadside Hawk||Buteo magnirostris||Only seen along Vigo Chica Rd. Seen 3 times, possibly same bird|
|Short-tailed Hawk||Buteo brachyurus||One nice white-phase bird flying by as we drove along highway south of Cancun|
|Zone-tailed Hawk||Buteo albonotatus||Seen 3 times soaring in the Celestun/Sisal area. Possibly more as didn't check every Turkey Vulture seen|
|Red-tailed Hawk||Buteo jamaicensis||One at Rancho Santa Lucia, apparently nests on ranch savannah|
|Crested Caracara||Caracara plancus||Very common in open country along road from Tabasco south|
|Laughing Falcon||Herpetotheres cachinnans||One close to road just outside Rancho Santa Lucia|
|American Kestrel||Falco sparverius||Couple along road between Rancho Santa Lucia and Palenque|
|Aplomado Falcon||Falco femoralis||One at Celestun, and another the same day at Sisal. Just possible it was the same bird. Interesting as Howell has them extirpated from this area. Also 1 seen at great distance at Rancho Santa Lucia. Was identified on word of Ranch Owner who picked the Aplomado out as the Falcon species that breeds on the property.|
|Bat Falcon||Falco rufigularis||Seen three times. Once on tower above hotel at Coba, once on roadside by ruins at Uxmel, and best view of a bird perched by parking lot for museum at Palenque.|
|Plain Chachalaca||Ortalis vetula||Seen 5 or 6 times throughout the Yucatan. Usually when they fly across road in front of you. Often heard in morning. A few good looks though, particularly in bush outside Barrera Botanical Garden at Puerto Morelos.|
|Yucatan Bobwhite||Colinus nigrogularis||Seen along road N of Celestun just before sunrise. Best way to see was to drive up road then stop when we saw quail running or flying across road ahead. By waiting the birds would soon start walking across road and could be seen.|
|Ruddy Crake||Laterallus ruber||Couple seen on our second visit to Coba. In marsh along Lake edge between hotel and ruins. Have to be there early and be persistent and eventually one will walk into view.|
|Grey-necked Wood-Rail||Aramides cajanea||One in middle of road driving through mangroves into Celestun. Good look before it flew into mangrove at side of road.|
|Purple Gallinule||Porphyrio martinicus||One at Coba marsh edge|
|Common Moorhen||Gallinula chloropus||Couple at Puerto Morelos along main road through mangrove|
|Limpkin||Aramus guarauna||A few in Tabasco Marshes. Best look was at an individual at edge of Lake at Coba|
|Northern Jacana||Jacana spinosa||Fairly common throughout in freshwater marshes. Tamest ones were at Coda in wet field on opposite side of road from the Lake, along the stretch between hotel and ruins.|
|Greater Yellowlegs||Tringa melanoleuca||One along coast south of Campeche|
|Solitary Sandpiper||Tringa solitaria||One at edge of Lagoon at Rancho Santa Lucia|
|Spotted Sandpiper||Tringa macularia||Individual seen along many rocky/pebbly coastlines|
|Willet||Catoptrophorus semipalmatus||One on Cozumel, probably this sp., a little far to tell for sure, in duck pond|
|Ruddy Turnstone||Arenaria interpres||Seen along Punta Allen road and on Cozumel|
|Short-billed Dowitcher||Limnodromus griseus||Two along coast south of Campeche|
|Sanderling||Calidris alba||A few seen along many of the coasts visited|
|Double-striped Thick-knee||Burhinus bistriatus||Pair in field along road outside Rancho Santa Lucia|
|Black-necked Stilt||Himantopus mexicanus||Seen in many wetland/coastal habitats. Largest flock of 100 along causeway to Celestun|
|Black-bellied Plover||Pluvialis squatarola||Individuals or small groups seen a many coastal shoreline habitats|
|Semipalmated Plover||Charadrius semipalmatus||One along coast south of Campeche|
|Killdeer||Charadrius vociferus||Heard twice. Once at Celestun and once near Puerto Morelos|
|Laughing Gull||Larus atricilla||Common on most coastal habitats|
|Gull-billed Tern||Sterna nilotica||couple flying by causeway at Sisal|
|Caspian Tern||Sterna caspia||seen along coast south of Campeche and at Rancho Santa Lucia|
|Royal Tern||Sterna maxima||seen along Punta Allen road and on Cozumel|
|Sandwich Tern||Sterna sandvicensis||3-5 at one pull-off along coast south of Campeche|
|Forster's Tern||Sterna forsteri||couple flying by causeway at Sisal|
|Rock Dove||Columba livia||a few seen in some cities/towns|
|Red-billed Pigeon||Columba flavirostris||Fairly common, but only looked at in Palenque and Puerto Morelos|
|White-winged Dove||Zenaida asiatica||Common in most open and scrub areas|
|Common Ground-Dove||Columbina passerina||Only seen at Celestun where it was common|
|Ruddy Ground-Dove||Columbina talpacoti||Common in most habitats visited except deep forest|
|White-tipped Dove||Leptotila verreauxi||A couple of individuals walking the paths of Barrera Botanical Gardens|
|Caribbean Dove||Leptotila jamaicensis||Two white-faced doves broke cover and flew across road when I pished near El Cedral ruins on Cozumel.|
|Aztec Parakeet||Aratinga astec||Common in most habitats visited by hard to get a good look, usually just seen flying over.|
|White-fronted Parrot||Amazona albifrons||We could not safely distinguish these from Yucatan Parrot without a close look. Amazona sp. seen in many places, only distinguished this species along Vigo Chico road when we pulled the scope out. Also seen throughout the Palenque area where Yucatan Parrot not present.|
|Yucatan Parrot||Amazona xantholora||We could not safely distinguish these from White-fronted Parrot without a close look. Amazona sp. seen in many places in Yucatan, only distinguished this species along Vigo Chico road when we pulled the scope out, and near Barrera Botanical Gardens at Puerto Morelos. We found it easier to see the yellow-lores than the ear patch.|
|Yellow-headed Parrot||Amazona oratrix||2 seen flying over field at Rancho Santa Lucia, Chiapas. Detected by strikingly different parrot call.|
|Yellow-billed Cuckoo||Coccyzus americanus||1 on Cozumel Island|
|Mangrove Cuckoo||Coccyzus minor||1 seen well at Celestun causeway|
|Squirrel Cuckoo||Piaya cayana||Seen 5 different times at widely scattered locations. Best seen at Palenque.|
|Groove-billed Ani||Crotophaga sulcirostris||Common in most brushy and forest habitats. Even saw them attending an ant swarm at Coba|
|Lesser Roadrunner||Geococcyx velox||1 seen running across road near Labna ruins and 1 Dead on Road near Celestun|
|Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl||Glaucidium brasilianum||Seen or heard many places. Had best success at seeing them on the road north of Celestun|
|Lesser Nighthawk||Chordeiles acutipennis||At Rancho Santa Lucia, Chiapas where a couple were flying around riparian habitat when we walked through.|
|Pauraque||Nyctidromus albicollis||Seen at Coba, heard at Camping Sacbe near Uxmel|
|Vaux's Swift||Chaetura vauxi||Seen a couple of times along road north and south of Coba|
|Long-tailed Hermit||Phaethornis superciliosus||Seen at Palenque Ruins on 4 separate occasions at different locations, always on wing when feeding either at long dangling red flower sp., or banana flowers. Good views|
|Wedge-tailed Sabrewing||Campylopterus curvipennis||1 seen at Quality Inn Nututum Grounds outside Palenque,|
|Green-breasted Mango||Anthracothorax prevostii||Seen at various locations, most numerous at Palenque and on Cozumel|
|Fork-tailed Emerald||Chlorostilbon canivetii||Only really good view of a male was on the Vigo Chico Rd. Fork tail very clear.|
|Cozumel (Fork-tailed) Emerald||Chloristilbon forficatus||1 female seen briefly near El Cedral Ruins. Ear stripe seen but forked tail not noted. Nothing else like it here.|
|Cinnamon Hummingbird||Amazilia rutila||Seen at Coba, Celestun, and Camping Sacbe near Uxmel|
|Buff-bellied Hummingbird||Amazilia yucatanensis||Seen at Celestun, Vigo Chico Rd, and Barrera Botanical Gardens|
|Mexican Sheartail||Doricha eliza||The most common hummingbird in the Celestun area, particularly the road north of town. But most just zip by. Eventually got good looks at both males and females.|
|Black-headed Trogon||Trogon melanocephalus||Rather common, seen several times at Coba and in the Puerto Morelos area, bothalong roads and Botanical Gardens.|
|Collared Trogon||Trogon collaris||Seen once at Palenque Ruins, at Grupo 4. Possibly glimpsed on Vigo Chica Rd.|
|Violaceous Trogon||Trogon violaceus||seen several times at Palenque Ruins, usually female|
|Belted Kingfisher||Ceryle alcyon||Seen at widely scattered locations, usually along roadside while driving|
|Ringed Kingfisher||Ceryle torquata||Seen at widely scattered locations, usually alongside road, best seen at Rancho Santa Lucia, Chiapas were very com. At least three pairs flying around ranch itself. Seem to nest (colonially?) in road-cut bank just up from ranch driveway.|
|Amazon Kingfisher||Chloroceryle amazona||Only seen at Rancho Santa Lucia, Chiapas. 1 seen on river chasing belted kingfisher first day, two females well seen from boat at the lagoon second day. Very like Belted kingfisher at first glance.|
|Green Kingfisher||Chloroceryle americana||Only seen at Rancho Santa Lucia, Chiapas. Pair seen first day at drying river under highway bridge, also in mangroves at lagoon.|
|Turquoise-browed Motmot||Eumomota superciliosa||Seen a few times at Camping Sacbe near Uxmel (close enough to photograph), Labna, and Vigo Chica rd, and at Rancho Santa Lucia where according to Howell it is not found. Generally much more confiding then Blue-crowned with many fine views.|
|Blue-crowned Motmot||Momotus momota||Most common at Palenque Ruins, at least three separate pairs seen, both at ruins and museum but only one seen for any length of time in a fruiting tree. Seemed less confiding then Turquoise browed. Also glimpsed at Barrera Botanical Gardens.|
|Collared Aracari||Pteroglossus torquatus||Seen at Quality Inn Nututum Grounds outside Palenque, at Coba, and along Vigo Chica Rd. Always in groups of 3-8.|
|Keel-billed Toucan||Ramphastos sulfuratus||Only seen in the Palenque area. Noted several times but strangely only on one day of the three that we were there.|
|Black-cheeked Woodpecker||Melanerpes pucherani||At Palenque Ruins, 2 seen. One first morning in parking lot. Second third morning behind first ruin.|
|Yucatan Woodpecker||Melanerpes pygmaeus||Only seen briefly twice, and we looked at a lot of Yellow-fronted Woodpeckers. Seen on Coba-Neuva Xan rd and along Vigo Chica Rd. id'd by size, couldn't see any yellow around base of bill. Would have liked to see better.|
|Golden-fronted Woodpecker||Melanerpes aurifrons||Common to abundant. Seen everywhere there are trees.|
|Yellow-bellied Sapsucker||Sphyrapicus varius||Seen a couple of times in the Palenque area, once along the Tabasco highway at PEMEX stop, and Labna Ruins|
|Ladder-backed Woodpecker||Picoides scalaris||One seen along the road into Celestun, and a pair along the Vigo Chica Rd.|
|Chestnut-colored Woodpecker||Celeus castaneus||Only at Palenque Ruins, 2 separate females seen on day 3. One very close and in good light for some time. Bad picture taken.|
|Lineated Woodpecker||Dryocopus lineatus||Seen a couple of times. 1 closely in mangrove along Celestun causeway, another very close at Palenque. Also along Vigo Chica Road|
|Pale-billed Woodpecker||Campephilus guatemalensis||A pair seemed to hanging around main ruins of Palenque|
|Tawny-winged Woodcreeper||Dendrocincla anabatina||Only seen at Coba at ant swarm, seen close. poss more then one.|
|Olivaceous Woodcreeper||Sittasomus griseicapillus||Seen quite well on 4 occasions, twice at Coba, 1 at Labna, and 1 along Vigo Chica Rd. Enormous feet on a small bird!|
|Barred Woodcreeper||Dendrocolaptes certhia||One at a distance in bad light at Palenque, another very close at ant swarm at Coba|
|Ivory-billed Woodcreeper||Xiphorhynchus flavigaster||1 or 2 seen every day at Palenque Ruins, also along Vigo Chica Rd and at Coba|
|Streak-headed Woodcreeper||Lepidocolaptes souleyetii||One seen on two separate occasions at Palenque|
|Red-capped Manakin||Pipra mentalis||Only at Palenque Ruins. 1 male and female seen at separate times but at same fruiting tree. Clear eye level looks from top of ruin at Grupo 4.|
|Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet||Camptostoma imberbe||Once we got this bird down we saw it in most forested habitats, including the damp Palenque forest though Howell says it prefers dry habitats.|
|Greenish Elaenia||Myiopagis viridicata||Probably more common then we indicate, only seeing it at Coba and the Barrera Botanical Gardens at the later part of our trip.|
|Eye-ringed Flatbill||Rhynchocyclus brevirostris||One seen well but briefly at Coba. It was the forerunner of the antswarm and our attentions got quickly diverted. Not sure if this bird attending swarm or not. Did not see again after first sighting.|
|Tropical Pewee||Contopus cinereus||One outside Tadzitz in dry tall grass|
|White-throated Flycatcher||Empidonax albigularis||I believe 1 at Rancho Santa Lucia, Chiapas in riparian habitat. Well seen but with silent Empidonax who knows?|
|Vermilion Flycatcher||Pyrocephalus rubinus||Pair seen at Celestun and many seen in the open country of Tabasco and N. Chiapas.|
|Yucatan Flycatcher||Myiarchus yucatanensis||Took awhile to be sure but believe this species seen at Labna, Vigo Chica Rd, and Coba|
|Dusky-capped Flycatcher||Myiarchus tuberculifer||One at Celestun and 1 at Barrera Botanical Gardens|
|Tropical Kingbird||Tyrannus melancholicus||This species and/or Couch's Kingbird seen in all open habitats. The few that called were Tropical|
|Fork-tailed Flycatcher||Tyrannus savana||Seen a few times in the open country of N Chiapas. Seen well at Rancho Santa Lucia,|
|Boat-billed Flycatcher||Megarynchus pitangua||Seen twice; along Coba-Neuva Xan Rd, and at Uxmel|
|Social Flycatcher||Myiozetetes similis||Abundant, in any open area with a few trees, or any slight opening in forest.|
|Great Kiskadee||Pitangus sulphuratus||Common, in most open areas with a few trees|
|Gray-collared Becard||Pachyramphus major||1 female on track outside Uxmel, pair along road outside Barrera Botanical Gardens|
|Rose-throated Becard||Pachyramphus aglaiae||Seen in a few locations. Usually both male and female seen loosely together. On the Uxmel track, Coba, Palenque, and the Barrera Botanical Gardens|
|Masked Tityra||Tityra semifasciata||Fairly common, in most forested areas. Inevitably in the treetops. Call quite distinctive, and often heard if not actually seen.|
|Black-crowned Tityra||Tityra inquisitor||Only seen at Palenque. Seen once well by museum and probably glimpsed on a couple of other occasions|
|Yucatan Jay||Cyanocorax yucatanicus||Common in the Yucatan, in most forested areas, but not seen south of the Campeche area. Usually in large noisy flocks.|
|Green Jay||Cyanocorax yncas||Single birds at Coba, the Vigo Chica rd, and a couple of spots in the Barrera Botanical Gardens area. Not particularly conspicuous.|
|Brown Jay||Psilorhinus morio||Common in the Palenque area, but also along the Vigo Chica Rd, and the road near the Barrera Botanical Gardens. Usually in large noisy flocks|
|Rufous-browed Peppershrike||Cyclarhis gujanensis||Fairly Common. Seen in most forested areas in the Yucatan, but not at Palenque. Its rising oriole-like series of notes is quite distinctive and noticeable.|
|White-eyed Vireo||Vireo griseus||Common in most forest/scrub areas. Most persistent singer on first visit to Coba|
|Mangrove Vireo||Vireo pallens||Very common at Celestun where it was calling persistently. Individuals had quite a range in pitch but all investigated turned out to be this species (no Yucatan Wren). Also seen in Mangroves and forest at Puerto Morelos|
|Cozumel Vireo||Vireo bairdi||Only 1 seen at Botanical Gardens after much searching|
|Yellow-throated Vireo||Vireo flavifrons||One at Palenque, 2 in the Puerto Morelos area|
|Philadelphia Vireo||Vireo philadelphicus||One at Palenque|
|Yucatan Vireo||Vireo magister||Only seen in the Puerto Morelos area where it is quite common, including at the Botanical gardens and a couple of spots on Cozumel|
|Lesser Greenlet||Hylophilus decurtatus||It took a while to get an eye in for this bird. Kept thinking it was a funny Tennessee Warbler. After we got it down we saw it in most moist forest areas; Palenque, Coba, and Puerto Morelos area. Usually seen in small groups often with Warblers. Get to know this one early so you are not fooled!|
|Wood Thrush||Catharus mustelinus||Very common in the Palenque area, but not seen elsewhere|
|Clay-colored Robin||Turdus grayi||Fairly Common. 1 or 2 seen at most forested areas: Coba, Labna, Uxmel, Palenque|
|Gray Catbird||Dumetella carolinensis||Fairly common in forest and scrub. 3 or 5 seen at Uxmel, Labna, Vigo Chica Rd, Coba, and Palenque|
|Black Catbird||Melanoptila glabrirostris||Only seen twice. 7 or 8 birds in the Mangrove and scrub about 25km down Punta Allen road and 1 on the road outside Barrera Botanical Gardens. Skulker, doesn't stay in open very long.|
|Tropical Mockingbird||Mimus gilvus||Abundant in all open and scrubby areas. One of the few small birds that sits out in the noon day sun.|
|Band-backed Wren||Campylorhynchus zonatus||Only seen at Palenque Ruins. 2 separate seen. Once by Yvette, once by David. Both times seen in clear but only for a very brief second. hard to register bird.|
|Spot-breasted Wren||Thryothorus maculipectus||Seen well at Labna Ruins and the road near the Barrera Botanical Gardens. Probably glimpsed at other places in forested areas.|
|White-browed Wren||Thryothorus albinucha||Only seen at Labna and Coba, another skulker that took some work to see|
|Southern House Wren||Troglodytes musculus||Pair at Palenque Ruins. One on first ruins, well seen. Flew into bush where joined by mate.|
|Cozumel Wren||Troglodytes beani||One seen very well at side of road on way to El Cedral ruins|
|White-bellied Wren||Uropsila leucogastra||Only seen three times in the Puerto Morelos area, twice at Barrera Botanical Garden and once on the road outside the gardens|
|Blue-gray Gnatcatcher||Polioptila caerulea||Fairly common, seen in most forested habitats, but not the dry north-west|
|White-lored Gnatcatcher||Polioptila albiloris||Common in the Celestun area. Many of the black-capped form seen in scrub north of Celestun, the normal form seen in dry grass outside Tadidtz|
|Tropical Gnatcatcher||Polioptila plumbea||Only one seen at Barrera Botanical Garden|
|Mangrove Swallow||Tachycineta albilinea||A few seen along causeway to Sisal, but may be more common as not particularly looked for|
|Northern Rough-winged Swallow||Stelgidopteryx serripennis||Only noted at Palenque but probably more common as did not look at swallows much|
|Ridgeway's Rough-winged Swallow||Stelgidopteryx ridgwayi||Pair seen sitting on wire at edge of lake near Coba ruin entrence. Walked right under and could see black under-tail coverts clearly. Forgot to check the white lore spot. Didn't make much of an attempt to look at swallows after seeing this species for rest of the trip.|
|Cave Swallow||Hirundo fulva||Good numbers building nests inside ruins at Labna. Don't know if they will be "discouraged" or if they are always there.|
|Blue-winged Warbler||Vermivora pinus||Seen twice. 1 at Uxmel, 1 at Barrera Botanical Gardens|
|Orange-crowned Warbler||Vermivora celata||Couple in riparian habitat of Rancho Santa Lucia|
|Northern Parula||Parula americana||Fairly common in most forested areas. Down right numerous on Cozumel.|
|Yellow Warbler||Dendroica petechia||Seen at Coba and on Cozumel, more common at Palenque|
|Chestnut-sided Warbler||Dendroica pensylvanica||One at Palenque Ruins|
|Magnolia Warbler||Dendroica magnolia||Abundant, easily the most noted bird at many forested sites, particularly on the Yucatan|
|Yellow-rumped Warbler||Dendroica coronata||Fairly common on the Yucatan, particularly in mangrove and coastal scrub|
|Black-throated Green Warbler||Dendroica virens||One or 2 seen in most forest habitats|
|Yellow-throated Warbler||Dendroica dominica||One at Coba hotel, and several on Cozumel|
|Palm Warbler||Dendroica palmarum||Fairly common. Usually a few seen in scrub and edge habitats|
|Black-and-white Warbler||Mniotilta varia||Common, usually 2 to 5 seen in most forest habitats. Seemed to get more common later in trip. Wouldn't be moving north already would they?|
|American Redstart||Setophaga ruticilla||Usually abundant. Not seen in a couple of places but the most frequently encountered bird at Palenque and other moist forest areas.|
|Worm-eating Warbler||Helmitheros vermivorus||Seen at Barrera Botanical Garden, 2 or possibly the same bird twice.|
|Ovenbird||Seiurus aurocapillus||Fairly common in forest on the east coast of the Yucatan Penn. but not seen elsewhere|
|Northern Waterthrush||Seiurus noveboracensis||Individual seen at Uxmel, Palenque, Cozumel and Barrera Botanical gardens|
|Louisiana Waterthrush||Seiurus motacilla||One in Mayan ditch with running water at Palenque Ruins|
|Kentucky Warbler||Oporornis formosus||One at Palenque Ruins, seen in clear but only briefly before retreating under banana tree|
|Common Yellowthroat||Geothlypis trichas||Fairly common in scrub, grass and marsh habitats|
|Hooded Warbler||Wilsonia citrina||Common in most forest areas, but not the dry north-west. Almost all males seen. Being in breeding plumage they absolutely glowed in shaded understorey. Never got tired of seeing these!|
|Wilson's Warbler||Wilsonia pusilla||2 separate seen at Palenque|
|Yellow-breasted Chat||Icteria virens||1 possibly glimpsed at Palenque Ruins|
|Gray-throated Chat||Granatellus sallaei||Pair seen outside Tadzidz in dry tall grass and 1 female seen on road outside Barrera Botanical gardens. Act like fan-tails, cocking and fanning tail. I was disappointed that we didn't see more.|
|Olive Sparrow||Arremonops rufivirgatus||1 or 2 seen three times: At Uxmel, Labna, and Coba|
|Gray-headed Tanager||Eucometis penicillata||Pair at ant swarm at Coba|
|Red-crowned Ant-Tanager||Habia rubica||Seen at Coba both visits and at Palenque. Only after seeing Red-throated species did we know for certain which species this was. The throat patch does contrast greatly in the other species.|
|Red-throated Ant-Tanager||Habia fuscicauda||Seen at Coba, Labna, Palenque and Barrera Botanical Gardens, usually in groups of 2 to 6 birds. It became very obvious that the throat of this species does contrast more on both males and females than the red-crowned and everything seen previously had been Red-crowned.|
|Summer Tanager||Piranga rubra||Males seen a few times in Palenque area, and what I believe to be an immature male seen at Barrera Botanical Garden. (A very strange looking bird)|
|Rose-throated Tanager||Piranga roseogularis||1 female on the Vigo Chica Rd.|
|Crimson-collared Tanager||Ramphocelus sanguinolentus||Common in edge habitat at Palenque Ruins. Seen every day, last day in good light but always a great looking bird.|
|Scarlet-rumped Tanager||Ramphocelus passerinii||1 female and 1 male behind first ruin at Palenque Ruins|
|Stripe-headed Tanager||Spindalis zena||One at Botanical Gardens in Cozumel|
|Blue-gray Tanager||Thraupis episcopus||Pairs seen at Rancho Santa Lucia and in hotel Nututum grounds in Palenque area|
|Yellow-winged Tanager||Thraupis abbas||One in Quality Inn Nututum grounds outside Palenque,|
|Scrub Euphonia||Euphonia affinis||Small groups seen at Palenque, Coba and a female along the Vigo Chica Rd.|
|Yellow-throated Euphonia||Euphonia hirundinacea||One male at Coba and another at Barrera Botanical Gardens|
|Red-legged Honeycreeper||Cyanerpes cyaneus||Small flock seen by museum at Palenque and a lone female seen along Vigo Chica Rd.|
|White-collared Seedeater||Sporophila torqueola||Seen in most grassy or cattail areas throughout|
|Yellow-faced Grassquit||Tiaris olivacea||I female outside Tadzidz in dry tall grass and a male on Cozumel at Botanical Gardens|
|Rose-breasted Grosbeak||Pheucticus ludovicianus||Small groups seen in the Palenque area and along road outside Barrera Botanical Gardens. Interesting sight was male perched alongside male Rose-throated Becard|
|Northern Cardinal||Cardinalis cardinalis||Abundant in scrub around Celestun. Also seen along Vigo Chica rd and around Puerto Morelos|
|Black-headed Saltator||Saltator atriceps||Seen along Vigo Chica rd, at Coba and along road outside Barrera Botanical Garden. Always in large noisy flocks.|
|Buff-throated Saltator||Saltator maximus||Small flock seen twice at Palenque Ruins near entrance.|
|Blue Bunting||Cyanocompsa parellina||One Female along Vigo Chica rd, one male along road outside Barrera Botanical Garden. Other brown buntings may have been female in other locations|
|Indigo Bunting||Passerina cyanea||Saw blue and brown buntings in a number of semi-open and scrubby locations from Coba to Palenque. Some were definitely this species but others might have been other "blue" species. Never figures them out so lumped all in with these.|
|Painted Bunting||Passerina ciris||1 male seen Rancho Santa Lucia, Chiapas, 3 different males seen at El Cedral Ruin village on Cozumel|
|Chestnut-headed Oropendola||Psarocolius wagleri||Seen every day at Palenque. Best on day one as they fed in tree tops in rain while we watched from top of Ruin.|
|Montezuma Oropendola||Gymnostinops montezuma||Seen on two days flying by Palenque Ruins|
|Yellow-billed Cacique||Amblycercus holosericeus||Individual seen; at Coba, north of Coba on road, at Palenque, and Uxmel. Usually takes some work to get good look, but easily recognized at a glimpse|
|Orange Oriole||Icterus auratus||1 finally seen at road across from Botanical Garden. Looked at bird a long time. Back orange, bill looked straighter and black reduced about eye but still looked very much like a hooded. I didn't think it jumped out as different as much as I thought it would after looking at so many hooded.|
|Yellow-tailed Oriole||Icterus mesomelas||1 adult well seen near lower parking lot at Palenque Ruin|
|Altamira Oriole||Icterus gularis||fairly common in the dryer forested and scrub areas. Seen Coba, Celestun, Uxmel, and more open areas at Palenque.|
|Hooded Oriole||Icterus cucullatus||Common in many forested/edge areas in the Yucatan. Usually 5-10 seen where they were present. Seen at Cancun, Puerto Morelos, Labna, Vigo Chica rd, and Coba.|
|Baltimore Oriole||Icterus galbula||Fairly common at Rancho Santa Lucia and the Palenque area|
|Orchard Oriole||Icterus spurius||Males seen both days along road by entrance to Rancho Santa Lucia,|
|Black-cowled Oriole||Icterus dominicensis||Glimpsed at Palenque but well seen three different times in and around Barrera Botanical Gardens|
|Red-winged Blackbird||Agelaius phoeniceus||Found in a few open mangrove areas, and marshes in Tabasco|
|Eastern Meadowlark||Sturnella magna||Couple in fields at Rancho Santa Lucia|
|Melodious Blackbird||Dives dives||Fairly Common in most open and edge habitats. Even found two attending an ant swarm in Coba forest.|
|Great-tailed Grackle||Quiscalus mexicanus||Abundant in open areas|
David & Yvette Bree
Box 123 Bloomfield, Ontario, Canada