Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Bonampak Ruins

March 25, 2010

Today was the day that Steve and I planned to go to the famous Maya ruins of Bonampak in the morning, finished by a longish drive to Chajul Biological Station.

We had spent the previous afternoon birding along the entrance to Bonampak – a 9-kilometer dirt road that only the local Lacandón Maya are allowed to drive. That's once source of income, as they essentially provide a necessary taxi service. But one can walk in, and birding on the road is excellent. We saw a Pheasant Cuckoo (my second ever) and after dark heard a Great Potoo and Mottled Owl.

In the morning we got a ride in all the way to the ruins. The ruins are supposedly quite spectacular, but we were here to assess the access to birding habitat. I couldn't  help but look at them, even when a Brown-crested Flycatcher had an altercation with a Green Shrike-Vireo from this very spot.

Near the entrance we saw a pair of Rose-throated Becards, the subspecies from here on south confusingly lacking the rose on the throat.

We then took a forest trail for the rest of the morning, encountering many mixed flocks. This Wedge-billed Woodcreeper was in one of them.

There were very, very few mosquitos this time of year. This one with white on the top of its thorax caught my attention. I wonder how many species mosquito are found here.

I call this Aphelandra species the "flibber flower."

Walking down this trail, we were required to have a local "guide."  His name was Chambof. He told me that the leaves of the Aphelandra plant were used to dye cloth green. All of the locals here speak Ch'ol as their first language (one of many Mayan languages), Spanish as their second.

On our way to our next destination we stopped for lunch in the town of Benemerito de las Americas. It was sunny and hot this day, around 90°F. It wasn't much cooler in the shade, and Steve was about to comment that it was "like an an oven in here," when he turned and noticed that a large chunk of the restaurant space WAS an oven – a wood-fired one with chickens on a motor-powered spit inside.

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