December 6, 2015
It was wonderful being back in the Yucatan again. The birding here is simply fun, and I had a great group of participants who meshed well and who were also just as intent on having fun.
For such a short tour we birded in a remarkable variety of habitats and backdrops. Along a nice forested road outside Felipe Carrillo Puerto we had great views of Mottled Owl and local specialties of Gray-throated Chat and Rose-throated Tanager. We had several flocks of Olive-throated Parakeets perched up here as well as an amazingly cooperative Gartered Trogon.
Birding in the ruins was also surprisingly productive. A Tulum we had a wonderful close encounter with a juvenile Yucatan Jay and its parent, Yellow-throated Warblers were bold in the palm trees, and Black Spiny-tailed Iguanas loafed.
At Chichén Itzá we were delighted by a pair of Bat Falcons perched at close range by the cenote, while a mixed flock had a super handsome male Rose-throated Becard.
A Gray Hawk along one of our drives was a memorable sighting, and we heard Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl almost every day, seeing one on the very first morning.
The day on the north coast, with a boat trip in the estuary and among the mangroves, was a wonderful change of pace. There were so many pelicans, terns, and other shorebirds we didn’t know where to look. Gorgeous Mangrove Yellow Warblers responded well, and we found a single Boat-billed Heron. We had many close encounters with hundreds of American Flamingos, but they were most magical when flying past. A pair of Common Black-Hawks treated us to a show when our boatmen treated them to some fish.
Time spent on land here was also productive, as we found a pair of cuddling Yucatan Wrens, Mexican Sheartails (at a feeder), lots of Hooded Orioles, and a Ladder-backed Woodpecker that surveyed his territory from a powerline for at least 15 minutes.
Finally, we had a short and sweet stay on Cozumel, with amazing views of a foraging Swainson’s Warbler, Cozumel Vireo, Cozumel Emerald, and the very distinctive House Wren that will surely be split. But the most memorable bird from here, voted favorite of the tour, was a brazen Ruddy Crake that sat on top of the cattails, eventually flying right past us into the mangroves.