Yucatan (July 2002)

I had business in Cancun, Mexico, in July, 2002, and had a few days to do some birding. I used the excellent publications, “A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America,” by Howell and Webb and “A Bird-Finding Guide to Mexico,” by Howell. I arrived on July 25 in the afternoon and drove about 20 km south of the airport to the Barrera Jardin Botanico, which is described in Howell’s book. There was not much bird activity due to the late afternoon heat, but I saw spider monkeys and a beautiful snake that had metallic blues and greens (I later identified this snake as a Speckled Racer, which is illustrated in “The Ecotraveller’s Guide to Tropical Mexico,” by Beletsky, p. 275). The birding highlights were a Spot-breasted Wren and a Yucatan Vireo. Later on, I realized that I picked up a bunch of chiggers, which caused my legs to itch severely for several days. I had business on July 26 and didn’t do any birding other than seeing some common species such as Magnificent Frigatebird in Cancun. On July 27, I drove south toward Felipe Carillo Puerto, which is also described in Howell’s book. I made a few stops along the way. On the first stop, I saw Orange Oriole, Yellow-backed Oriole, and Yucatan Jay. I was hoping to see one of the juvenile jays in white plumage (it was the right time of year), but I only saw immatures that have a yellow bill). A little over half of the way to Felipe Carillo Puerto, I came across a small road that goes off to the right. I drove several kms along this road. At one stop, I saw Red-legged Honeycreeper, Black-headed Saltator, and Black Catbird. There are several trails that split off from this road. I followed a few of them and saw Yucatan Woodpecker. I arrived in Felipe Carillo Puerto in the early afternoon and checked into the small Faisan y Venado hotel that is mentioned in Howell’s book. The restaurant there has good food. The hotel is only about $20 per night and is clean and has A/C. There is a place to make phone calls inexpensively across the street. Right above them is an Internet cafe. This small town in the middle of an extensive forest makes an excellent base for birding. For the next few days, I birded the first 15 km or so of the Vigia Chico Road, which goes to the northeast of Felipe Carillo Puerto. There are many trails that split off from this road. It was very hot and humid most of the time, but the birding was good. Some of the highlights were Yucatan Bobwhite, Blue Ground-Dove, Aztec Parakeet, Mottled Owl, Yucatan Poorwill, Cinnamon Hummingbird, Collared Trogon, Black-headed Trogon, Violaceous Trogon, Turquoise-browed Motmot, Pale-billed Woodpecker, Lineated Woodpecker, Ivory-billed Woodcreeper, Barred Antshrike, Long-billed Gnatwren, Yucatan Flycatcher, Masked Tityra, White-browed Wren, Tropical Mockingbird, Yellow-green Vireo, Gray-crowned Yellowthroat, Yellow-throated Euphonia, Red-throated Ant-Tanager, Green-backed Sparrow, and Collared Aracari. I also saw a pair of Swallow-tailed Kites, which are not on the list for Yucatan in the book by Howell and Webb. It was interesting to see a Northern Waterthrush on July 28 and a Louisiana Waterthrush on July 29. These seemed to be very early fall migrants, and Louisiana Waterthrush is not on the list for Yucatan. It was interesting to see Northern Cardinals in this forest. I was not aware that they occurred so far south. I spent the afternoon of July 29 at the spectacular Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza. On the way back to Cancun from there, I stopped at a closed road that branches off the main highway. It’s a nice place to take a walk and there are lots of birds. This place is on the right just east of a toll booth. I saw Grayish Saltator and Black-vented Oriole along this road. Here is a list of all species seen on the trip:

Magnificent Frigatebird, Swallow-tailed Kite, Gray Hawk, Roadside Hawk, Short-tailed Hawk, Turkey Vulture, Black Vulture, Plain Chachalaca, Yucatan Bobwhite, Rock Dove, Red-billed Pigeon, Ruddy Ground-Dove, Blue Ground-Dove, White-winged Dove, White-tipped Dove, Aztec Parakeet, Groove-billed Ani, Mottled Owl, Yucatan Poorwill, Vaux’s Swift, Cinnamon Hummingbird, Collared Trogon, Black-headed Trogon, Violaceous Trogon, Collared Aracari, Turquoise-browed Motmot, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Yucatan Woodpecker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Lineated Woodpecker, Pale-billed Woodpecker, Ivory-billed Woodcreeper, Barred Antshrike, Greenish Elaenia, Tropical Pewee, Yucatan Flycatcher, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Streaked Flycatcher, Great Kiskadee, Social Flycatcher, Couch’s Kingbird, Tropical Kingbird, Masked Tityra, Gray-breasted Martin, Green Jay, Brown Jay, Yucatan Jay, Long-billed Gnatwren, Tropical Gnatcatcher, White-browed Wren, Spot-breasted Wren, House Wren, Clay-colored Thrush, Black Catbird, Tropical Mockingbird, Yellow-green Vireo, Yucatan Vireo, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Northern Waterthrush, Louisiana Waterthrush, Gray-crowned Yellowthroat, Yellow-throated Euphonia, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Red-throated Ant-Tanager, Lesser Goldfinch, Grayish Saltator, Black-faced Saltator, Northern Cardinal, Olive Sparrow, Green-backed Sparrow, Blue-black Grassquit, Yellow-faced Grassquit, White-collared Seedeater, Bronzed Cowbird, Melodious Blackbird, Great-tailed Grackle, Black-vented Oriole, Yellow-backed Oriole, Orange Oriole