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A Report from

Mexico (Yucatán and Quintana Roo) 26 May - 3 June 2002,

Gruff Dodd

2 Clos Tawe, Barri, Bro Morgannwg, Cymru/Wales;


This was our second trip to Mexico, having previously visited the area between Mexico City and Oaxaca two years ago.  We had just over a week available to us, and wanted somewhere where we could combine good birding with general tourist stuff, without having to do too much driving, and the Yucatán peninsula fitted the bill very well.

The pace of the trip was a lot slower than most of my trips - the previous few months in work had caught up with me, and for once the desire for a long list of lifers was outweighed by a wish to just chill out for a few days.  Consequently, while I went birding every day, this wasn't the usual dawn to dusk affair, and on some days I didn't bird past about 10:00.  The weather made this decision easier, being very hot and very humid throughout the trip, which made an air-conditioned room and a swimming pool more attractive than usual.

The strategy adopted was therefore to concentrate on a relatively small number of Yucatán and Cozumel endemics, and see what else turned up.  For the purposes of this trip report I have defined Yucatán endemics as species restricted to the Yucatán peninsula including Belize and Northern Guatemala.

Generally speaking the strategy worked - I saw all the Cozumel endemic species other than the near-impossible Cozumel Thrasher (as well as all hoped for distinctive subspecies), and saw all my other Yucatán target birds with the exception of Yucatán Poorwill, Yucatán Nightjar and White-browed Wren.

The overall species list was pretty modest, at 122 species including heards, but this total included exactly 50 lifers, not bad for a second trip to Mexico, and a good number of endemics, localised species and spectacular birds.


Many thanks to Chris Spagnoli who joined me for a day in Felipe Carrillo Puerto, to Arturo Bayona who guided us in this area, and to Jim Barton for recommending Arturo to me.  Mary Beth Stowe very kindly let me have some copy recordings before the trip, which helped a lot with familiarising myself with the songs of some of the trickier endemics.  Thanks also to the following who provided help and advice while planning the trip - Andy Mabbett, Bert Frenz, Bronwen Rorex, Dave Fallow, David Ferry, Mike Flieg, Jack Windsor, Jay Taylor, Joan Renninger, Joan Thompson, Kurt Radamaker, Lou Marsh, John Neville, Dick Palmer, Mark Tierney, Paul Coopmans, Richard Ranft, Robert Vaughan, Shaun Peters, Sonja Macys and Bill Hull

Getting there

We flew from London Heathrow (LHR) to Cancún via Madrid with Iberia.  Flights were booked through Airline Network (Tel 0800 727747) and cost UKP 504 each, including taxes - a lot more expensive than flights to Oaxaca two years ago.

Flight times were as follows:


Depart LHR  25.05.02  07:30,  arrive Madrid  25.05.02  10:45

Depart Madrid  25.05.02  12:15,  arrive Cancún  25.05.02  17:50


Depart Cancún  03.06.02  18:55,  arrive Madrid  04.06.02  15:35

Depart Madrid  04.06.02  16:55,  arrive LHR  04.06.02  18:15

Travelling around

On arrival at Cancún we caught a comfortable air-conditioned coach down to the town of Playa del Carmen, a trip of just under 1 hour.  The cost of a return ticket was MXP 110 (UKP 8) per person.  We got details of this service off the net -, Buses from Cancún Airport to Playa del Carmen run from 06:15 - 19:15, with the return service running from 09:30 - 20:30.

On arrival at Playa del Carmen, we made our the way the short distance to the ferry terminal, where we caught the quick and very efficient ferry over to Cozumel Island - again the trip was about an hour in length.  The return ferry trip cost MXP 160 (UKP 11) per person.  Again, details were obtained off the net -

Car hire in Mexico is as expensive as anywhere I've seen.  On Cozumel we hired a VW Beetle car from the Hotel Aguilar where we stayed - MXP 750 (UKP 54) for 2 days including insurance.  The first car they gave us was a complete heap, and was soon replaced by a second, better vehicle.  On returning to Cancún, we hired a small Group B car from Europcar, at a cost of USD 301 (UKP 206) for 7 days, all-inclusive.  Depressingly, despite a lot of hunting around on the net, these were comfortably the best deals I could find - Avis quoted me UKP 319 for the same arrangement from Cancún. 

Driving around the Yucatán was very easy.  There is a superb new highway linking Cancún in the east with Mérida in the west, although the tolls are very high (can't remember how much, but I think it's about UKP 40 one way for the whole stretch).  As a result, no-one uses it, and so if you broke down you could wait a long time for anyone else to come along.  The main roads are in generally very good condition, although a few stretches are potholed, for example the road from Cobá southwards to Tulúm, and you have to be constantly on your guard for the ubiquitous speed humps or topes, which great you in virtually every town or village.  Most are announced, but quite a few are not, so beware.

Petrol was widely available throughout the area we visited (Pemex stations only), at a cost of c. MXP 5.5 (UKP 0.40) per litre.

Bird Guides

Before travelling, I attempted to contact some local bird guides in the areas I was visiting.  Unfortunately the vague nature of my planned itinerary and communication difficulties meant that I only managed to hire one guide during the trip.  He was Arturo Bayona, a naturalist and teacher living in Felipe Carrillo Puerto, who may be contacted by fax on +52 (983) 40073 or by e-mail on  He charged USD 50 per day for his services, which was very reasonable, and is also willing to accompany birders further afield, e.g. to Cobá.

I was also provided with details of guides in other parts of the Yucatán, and although I didn't use them myself, I have repeated these details below in case they are of use:

Ø David Bacab -  David is based in Celestún, but is happy to accompany you elsewhere in the Yucatán.  He comes very highly recommended, and I would certainly have hired his services, except that he was having problems with his e-mail address at that time and I couldn't correspond with him in time.

Ø Juan Daniel Euan Dominguez, Uxmal -

Ø Luiz Telez, Chetumal -  Luiz also apparently guides all over the Yucatán.  He also has a website -

Costs & Money

The local currency is the Mexican Peso (MXP), although some hotels, restaurants etc charged in US Dollars (USD).  The approximate exchange rates against sterling (UKP) at the time of my visit (which I have used in translating costs throughout this report) were as follows:

Ø UKP 1 = MXP 14;

Ø UKP 1 = USD 1.46

I took along some USD travellers' cheques, and also used the widely available ATM machines in large towns and cities.

Credit cards were accepted in some hotels, restaurants, shops etc, although not everywhere, while petrol stations mostly took only cash only.

The total cost of the trip is estimated at UKP 1,775 for 2 people (UKP 888 each), made up as follows:

Ø Flights -                 UKP 1,008

Ø Transport -            UKP    300

Ø Hotels -                 UKP    275

Ø Guiding -               UKP      50

Ø Fuel (est.) -           UKP      50

Ø Meals (est.) -         UKP    100

Accommodation and food

The quality of accommodation was generally good, and in some cases excellent.  We stayed at the following places (all accommodation prices are per room):


Hotel Aguilar, 98 Calle 3 Sur, Cozumel  Tel +52 (987) 872-0307   Fax +52 (987) 872-0769  E-mail -  Room MXP 400 (UKP 29) per night

Cozumel is a real tourist trap, and consequently most hotels are in the luxury / expensive category.  We found this small back-street hotel on the net -  It was pretty basic, but comfortable enough, with functioning air conditioning and a very nice outdoor pool area.  It was also very near the middle of town, and they can also provide rental cars.  The only real downside was that they locked all the gates at night - luckily I had parked my hire car on the road outside just in case, but still had to clamber over a tall fence with all my birding gear just to get out!


Hotel Aguilar, Cozumel


Piramide Inn Hotel, 28 Calle 15-A, Chichén Itzá.  Tel +52 (985) 10115.  Fax +52 (985) 10114.  E-mail -, website -  Room MXP 400 (UKP 29) per night

We got here pretty late at night, and left early in the morning, and so didn't really check it out, but it seemed a very nice place, with comfortable rooms.  It's also the nearest hotel to the ruins approaching from Pisté - it's the last hotel on the right hand side approaching the ruins.


Hotel Misión, Calle 60 (corner with Calle 57), Mérida.  Tel +52 (999) 923-9500
Fax: +52 (999) 923-7665   Web site - 

Room USD 50 (UKP 34) per night - the rack rate is USD 100 per night, but we picked up some discount vouchers in the Avis car hire office in Cancún airport.

A fabulous hotel right in the middle of a fabulous city.  We really enjoyed everything about our stay here, and were very sorry to leave.


Hotel Misión, Mérida


Hotel La Casona, Felipe Carrillo Puerto.  Room MXP 220 (UKP 16) per night.  Booked on our behalf by Arturo Bayona.  This is a very small hotel situated just south of the central square in town, but Arturo recommended it to us as the best in town.  The rooms were quite basic, but with the most powerful air conditioning I've ever come across, and with nice shady gardens. 


Hotel La Casona, Felipe Carrillo Puerto


Villa Arqueologicas Hotel, Cobá.  Tel/fax +52 (984) 874-2087  Room MXP 616 (UKP 44) per night.

Very nice place, and a lovely relaxing end to the trip, not least because we were the only guests and therefore had the large swimming pool, terrace etc to ourselves!


Villa Arqueologicas Hotel, Cobá

The food was generally excellent, when we could be bothered to go out and look for it!!  Much of the time it was too hot for big meals, so we got by on salads and cold drinks, with the odd decent evening meal after it had gone dark.

Red tape

No real problems.  Immigration and Customs was very straightforward both arriving and leaving, although time consuming due to the number of people passing through Cancún airport.  We came across a few roadblocks but nowhere near as many as two years in Oaxaca.


The weather was far from ideal for birding - it was generally very hot and unbearably humid, especially in the forest areas.  The weather was more pleasant on the coast and on Cozumel, where a brisk wind lowered the humidity and made the heat more bearable.  The only rain we experienced came in the form of a couple of brief and very heavy showers on Cozumel - these are common year round according to Howell.

Health, safety & annoyances

No real problems - no jabs compulsory for the areas we visited, and we didn't take anti-malarial prophylactics, as it seemed a low-risk area.  Mosquitoes were generally not a problem, although they were a bit annoying around Felipe Carrillo Puerto, and absolutely horrific at Río Lagartos at dusk - clouds of the things biting right through clothing!  The biggest problem was the heat, and we carried a lot of bottled water around with us in rural areas.  We didn't get hassled at any of the sites, even Celestún, probably because I passed through very early in the morning. 



Where to Watch Birds in Mexico
Steve Howell, Sophie Webb (Illustrator): Buy from or

  • Where to watch birds in Mexico - Howell.  Excellent and essential - this book formed the whole basis of the trip, and the site checklists are especially useful.  Just be aware that they represent the accumulated results of many months fieldwork by Howell over a period of 17 years, and so for some sites, especially forest sites, you should not expect to see more than some of the species listed.

Field Guide to the Birds of North America
National Geographic: Buy from or

A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America
Buy from or

  • A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America - Howell and Webb.  The standard guide, and very good indeed, but too big to carry about in the field.  Please note that it doesn't generally illustrate North American species.

Lonely Planet: Mexico
John Noble, et al: Buy from or

  • "Mexico is an experience that offers a multitude of cultures, cuisine, environments, handicrafts, art and history." This vast country covers an area of almost 2 million square km encompassing mountains, plains, deserts and beaches.."

Trip reports:

These were primarily obtained from Blake Maybank's excellent on-line repository of trip reports on the Americas -

Mexico - Yucatán - 29.2.96 - 21.3.96 - John van der Woude

Mexico - Yucatán - 29.4.99 - 3.5.99 - Greg Links

Mexico - Yucatán - 18.4.99 - 2.5.99 - Christine Rideout

Mexico - Yucatán -January 1999 - Richard Carlson

Mexico - Yucatán - Jeff & Noel Perkins

Mexico - Yucatán - 13.1.97 - 17.1.97 - Jeff & Noel Perkins

Mexico - Yucatán & Chiapas - February 1997 - Andre van Kleunen

Mexico - Yucatán - 22.9.95 - 30.9.95 - Peter Lonsdale

Mexico - Yucatán & Guatemala - 14.12.00 - 22.12.00 - Frank Rheindt

Mexico - Yucatán - 10.3.01 - 19.3.01 - Jim Hengeveld

Mexico - Yucatán - 7.8.01 - 18.8.01 - Dave Klauber

Mexico - Yucatán & Quintana Roo - 9.1.93 - 15.1.93 - Greg Jackson


I used the Berndtson & Berndtson 1:1,000,000 map of the Yucatán, which together with the maps in Howell were more than adequate for finding and getting around specific sites.  The B&B map also had useful larger scale inset maps of Cancún, Mérida and Cozumel, as well as detailed maps of the major archaeological sites.


Sites visited were as follows:


Isla Cozumel


a.m. IslaCozumel, travel to Cancún, Río Lagartos, drive to Chichén Itzá


Chichén Itzá, Progreso, drive to Mérida


Celestún, Dzibilchaltún


Uxmal, drive to Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Vigia Chico Road


Vigia Chico Road, Laguna Ocom, Vigia Chico Road


Vigia Chico Road, Aktun Chen, Cobá




Cobá, drive to Cancún

Details of these sites are given in the Sites Visited section.  The trip up to Río Lagartos was a waste of time, as it was almost dark by the time we got there, and in hindsight we should have headed straight for Chichén Itzá.  The plan had been to see if we could get Mexican Sheartail and Yucatán Wren at Río Lagartos, which would have removed the need to continue west to Progreso and Celestún.  Had we succeeded, we would have continued to Chichén Itzá, and then south to Felipe Carrillo Puerto via Valladolid.  We would then have either stayed longer in FCP than we did, or have continued south towards Chetumal.  In a way I'm glad we didn't succeed at Río Lagartos, as we really enjoyed our time in Mérida.

I would have liked to spend more time around Felipe Carrillo Puerto which would undoubtedly have boosted the lifer list, but there's not much here for the non-birder, and out of fairness to Sara I couldn't really justify staying here longer. 

Bird activity was definitely at its peak in the few hours immediately after dawn, and quietened down markedly thereafter - this was especially true in the forest around FCP, which were almost dead after 10:00.  This was consistent with what I had experienced two years ago around Oaxaca, but strangely in total contrast to rainforest birding in e.g. Ecuador or Malaysia, where activity continued at a reasonable level all day.

Unfortunately, this meant that a dawn start was almost essential every day, although I felt less guilty than I normally would when lying around a pool for the rest of the day!!  If I went back to this area, it would be when the weather was cooler and less humid, as this greatly affects the amount of time I spend in the field. 

Sites Visited

Only brief details of the sites visited are given, as full details, including maps, are given in the superb "Where to watch birds in Mexico" by Steve Howell.  I have instead detailed where specifically I found to be productive.  The numbers given after each place name refer to site numbers in Howell's book.

Cozumel Island (14.10)

1. Hotel Presidente grid

The best area by far on my visit was the failed housing development reached by turning east just north of the Hotel Presidente, 6.3 km south of the centre of Cozumel town (subsequently referred to as Hotel Presidente grid).  This road is quite easy to miss - just before you get there the coastal road jinks to the left and widens greatly for no apparent reason.  Just after this, and before reaching the Hotel Presidente, look for a sign to the left for, I think, Rancho Palmitas.

The road heads straight for maybe 1 kilometre - look out for a track to the right, with an arch holding a sign for Chan Chen.  Just after it, there is a large cleared area on the left, with a house in the middle of it - this is the area around which I found almost all the Cozumel specialities.

If you continue further along for a few hundred metres you enter the area cleared for the housing development - a network of overgrown plots and small connecting roads.  This area was also productive for a few species not seen at the first stop.

2. Chan Kanaab Park

This is an area often mentioned in trip reports as being good for the endemics.  It wasn't a bad spot, but I didn't see anything important here that I didn't also see at the Hotel Presidente grid, and it cost USD 10 to get in.

3. Bello Caribe

This is the road leading northwards from Cozumel town towards the sewage farm.  Again, nothing special was seen here compared with Hotel Presidente

4. Punta Celarain

Howell recommends the track down to the lighthouse as good for terns including Brown Noddy.  When we got there we found that the whole area has been turned into a national park, and an entrance fee of USD 15 per head was being charged, so we turned around.

The other area that seems to be highly recommended is around the San Gervasio ruins in the centre of the island, from which the only recent sightings of Cozumel Thrasher have come.  However, even these were a few years ago, and many have tried since with no success.  I had intended visiting, but having seen everything I wanted at Hotel Presidente, we left the island early to maximise our time elsewhere.

Río Lagartos (14.4)

We made a far too brief visit here, and in hindsight shouldn't have bothered.  We were badly delayed in Cancún in collecting the hire car, and it also took longer than I had anticipated getting up to Río Lagartos, and so by the time we got there it was almost dark, so I didn't have any time to try for the area's specialities. 

We'd planned to stay the night here, but there didn't seem to be anywhere nice to stay, and the mozzies were pretty bad, so we beat a retreat.  I also considered staying the night in Tizimín, and making an early morning trip up to Río Lagartos from there, but I was pretty exhausted by then, and the idea of adding 2 hours driving to the nest day's schedule didn't appeal.  It would also have meant arriving at Chichén Itzá in the mid-morning heat, which wouldn't have been fair on Sara, so I gave up on the place.

Chichén Itzá- (14.5)

Not really a prime birding spot - nothing seen here that wasn't seen elsewhere, but even birders should take some time out to see the place - pretty awesome.  It opens at 08:00, before which some decent birding can be had around the entrance road, and costs MXP 100 (UKP 7) per person to enter.

Progreso (14.6)

This was a nice spot, although very windy in the afternoon.  The only site visited for scrub birds was the Nuevo Yucatán development described by Howell, which was hard work but ultimately productive.  The flamingo spot at Los Flamencos described by Howell now boasts a new car park and large bird tower, giving good views over the whole lagoon, and shelter from the sun.

Celestún (14.8)

A dawn visit for Rufous-necked Wood-rail was unsuccessful, probably because of the high tide which meant that hardly any mud was exposed.  The dump area to the south had good birding, among disgusting surroundings, while the scrub to the north of town was also pretty good, although extremely hot by mid-morning.

Dzibilchaltún (14.7)

This was one of my favourite sites - great birding among lovely ruins, and hardly anyone else around.  Sadly, the entrance road which Howell recommends you walk at dawn is now blocked by a guarded gate just off the main road, and no-one gets in until they open at 08:00, or stays after 17:00, which is a great shame.  The entrance fee was MXP 55 (UKP 4) per person.

Uxmal (14.9)

We just made a brief stop here, in the midday heat, and so didn't actually go into the ruins themselves, just spending about half an hour in the vicinity of the Hacienda Uxmal.  Nothing special was seen here.

Felipe Carrillo Puerto (14.3)

Probably the best accessible area of primary forest in the Mexican Yucatán.  The main areas visited were as follows:

1. Vigia Chico Road

The road out from FCP towards the Sian Ka'an Reserve was very good, although birding was far from easy.  The undoubted highlight was the Ocellated Turkey that wandered across the road on the last morning just as we driving back to FCP - superb!

Another very good spot was a new reserve that was been established behind the school on the right hand side near the start of the road - this has been set-up by Arturo and his colleagues, and allows access on a circular path into the forest itself.  The birding here in the early morning was pretty good, although as expected more was heard than seen.

2. Laguna Ocom

A large lake accessed by a caliche road to the right, some 10 km south of FCP on the way towards Chetumal.  We made a few stops along this road, eventually ending up at the lake itself.  Not a bad spot, but nothing special here that couldn't be seen on the Vigia Chico road.

Aktun Chen

This is a good-looking site near Akumal, north of the town of Tulúm - look for the large sign to the left hand side.  I visited here on Chris Spagnoli's recommendation in the hope of seeing Yucatán Jay, and eventually succeeded.  It was way too hot to do any real exploring here but Chris, who stayed nearby and made several early-morning visits, got a very good range of birds here including many of the Yucatán endemics and near-endemics.  Be careful of the monkeys who will steal from your car if left open.

Cobá (14.2)

Another very nice site, and a good end to the trip.  Two main areas visited:

1. The lake

The shore of the lake, between the Villas Arqueologicas Hotel and the entrance to the ruins was productive, and although I failed to see the Ruddy Crakes that are apparently common here, there was great compensation in the form of a Pinnated Bittern which gave extremely close views.

2. The ruins

Wonderful ruins - much more atmospheric than those at Chichén Itzá simply because they are largely unexcavated, still being covered in forest.  The birding was also better than at Chichén Itzá, with several species only seen here.  It was much too hot to walk very far, so I just concentrated on the straight stretch of road between the entrance and the Las Pinturas group, and indeed it was around the latter that many of the best birds were seen.

Daily account

Saturday 25 May 2002

A very long travelling day - we arrived at Cancún some 20 hours after leaving our London hotel, and having cleared the formalities and lugged our bags through the Yucatán evening heat, we thankfully got on board our air-conditioned coach to Playa del Carmen.  An hour later, and another brief but exhausting spell of bag-carrying down to the ferry terminal, before eating a burger and drinking several cold drinks before catching the last ferry over to Cozumel. 

By this time we were desperate to get our heads down, and were less than pleased that our taxi driver at the other end didn't seem to be able to find our hotel, but we had soon checked in and crashed out.

Sunday 26 May 2002

Having pre-arranged car hire with the hotel, I had been unable to get hold of the car the previous evening as the owner was out.  They had assured me that he would be up at 06:00 the next morning to complete the formalities, so when 06:10 had come with no sign of life, I started making a noise, and soon had someone's attention!

The forms were filled out and I was the proud temporary owner of a real old heap of a VW Beetle.  In hindsight, I should have refused it on the spot - such items as seat belts, lights, a handbrake, speedometer etc were non-functional. But the engine started, I didn't have far to drive, and there were lots of endemics waiting out there for me, so off I went.

I decided to start my birding at the Hotel Presidente grid, and this proved an excellent decision.   I started off at the clearing finding some Ruddy Ground-Doves, before a small hummer whizzed by.  I thought it was a Cozumel Emerald, but didn't see it that well, but didn't worry as it was apparently one of the commoner endemics, so I was confident of seeing quite a few more.  A bird creeping about in the top of a small tree proved to be the first of several Yucatán Vireos seen at this site, while a group of Vaux's Swifts flew overhead.

Wandering up the road north of the clearing produced a Yucatán Woodpecker directly overhead, while White-tipped Doves flushed off the road and White-crowned Pigeons flew overhead.  Back at the clearing a small bird creeping low in the vegetation was identified as a Cozumel Vireo - a surprisingly attractive and colourful bird.  Several more of these were seen over the next day and a half, all seen low in scrub tangle, compared with the Yucatán Vireos which were always seen above head height, and usually high in trees.

Black Catbirds were very common in this area - flying by, and flushing from the sides of the road, and I obtained excellent views of this localised species.  Isla Cozumel hosts a number of endemic sub-species, and I had soon seen the local races of Yellow-faced Grassquit and Bananaquit.  I had also glimpsed what I am fairly sure was the endemic "Golden" race of Yellow Warbler, but it disappeared quickly, and I was unsure of the identification, although it was difficult to think what else a small bright yellow bird could be!

Several more hummers were seen in the area, but all the ones I could specifically identify turned out to be Green-breasted Mango, including one perched bird, and I still hadn't positively identified a Cozumel Emerald.  I got back into the car and continued a little further up the road to the area of abandoned housing plots.  A Mangrove Cuckoo called from the scrub, but wouldn't show itself, while a cracking Western Stripe-headed Tanager was a lot more obliging. 

Another Cozumel subspecies, that of Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, was seen in this area, as well as a pair of Myiarchus flycatchers - Dusky-capped and Brown-crested - and Tropical Mockingbird.  A small, brown bird sang from some tangled undergrowth - brief views suggested a Cozumel Wren, but the views were too fleeting to be sure.

By now it was starting to get hot, and activity had died down considerably, so I decided to try somewhere different, and headed off to Chan Kanaab Park (turn right shortly after Hotel Presidente), stopping on the way for an ice cold orange juice and a breakfast tortilla at a roadside stall   On arrival, a Bronzed Cowbird flew up and landed on the wing mirror.  Entering the park, I wandered off to the left from the entrance into the arboretum area.  The first of several Caribbean Elaenias were seen here, as well as more Western Stripe-headed Tanagers, Black Catbirds and Yucatán Vireos and a Hooded Oriole.

By now it was late morning, so I returned to the hotel to collect Sara and set off on a sight-seeing tour of the island.  Leaving the hotel, we returned southwards, and had only got a few kilometres back past Hotel Presidente on the way towards Punta Celarain when it started pouring down.  After a couple of minutes the windscreen wipers gave up the ghost, and with the rain still lashing down, I pulled over to wait for it to stop.  After 10 minutes the rain started easing up a little, so I turned on the ignition and . nothing!!  The starter was completely dead, and despite trying to bump start it with the help of a couple of kind passing American tourists, there was nothing doing.  We just about managed to get it off the road when the gearstick also locked hard in 1st gear, and I couldn't shift it.

It was still raining hard when I set off in total disgust on foot to try to find a phone to call the hotel.  The first place I tried had three phones, but typically none were working, so I headed off north up the beach, eventually arriving at the Cozumel Reef Hotel, where the very friendly and helpful staff called the hotel for me, and refused to let me pay for the call.  In fairness to the Hotel Aguilar they responded immediately, and by the time I'd walked the mile back to the car, they were waiting with a replacement car, which was a lot more roadworthy.

Although I'd been soaked, it was now hot and sunny and I was drying rapidly, so we decided to press on, heading first for Punta Celarain, where I planned on checking out the tern roost.  On arriving, however, we found that there was no longer free access along this road, and a USD 15 per person entrance fee was being demanded.  This seemed like a lot of money, so we turned around and instead headed for one of the rasta bars back at the junction with the main road where we enjoyed an excellent lunch of quesadillas.

The afternoon was spent driving slowly around the coast road, before cutting across the island past the San Gervasio ruins and back to Cozumel town.  Sara decided on another spell by the pool, so I dropped her off and drove back to the Hotel Presidente area.  There was still some endemics left to see - I needed good views of Cozumel Wren, Cozumel Emerald and Golden Warbler to be sure of their identification, and also needed the Cozumel form of Rufous-browed Peppershrike. 

Unfortunately, none were forthcoming - birds seen included repeat views of Caribbean Elaenias, Green-breasted Mango, Vaux's Swift and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, while Greenish Elaenia was new.  I waited until dusk in the hope of a possible Yucatán Nightjar after dark on the road - a couple of trips up and down produced a few caprimulgids, but the only one positively identified was a Pauraque.

Birds recorded

Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel - Yucatán Woodpecker, h Mangrove Cuckoo, Vaux's Swift, Green-breasted Mango, Pauraque, White-crowned Pigeon, Ruddy Ground-Dove, White-tipped Dove, Cattle Egret, Greenish Elaenia, Caribbean Elaenia, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Tropical Kingbird, Cozumel Vireo, Yucatán Vireo, Black Catbird, Tropical Mockingbird, Cozumel Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Yellow Warbler, Bananaquit, Western Stripe-headed Tanager, Yellow-faced Grassquit, Great-tailed Grackle

Chan Kanaab Park, Cozumel - Caribbean Elaenia, Yucatán Vireo, Black Catbird, Western Stripe-headed Tanager, Hooded Oriole, Great-tailed Grackle, Bronzed Cowbird

Monday 27 May 2002

I was a little worried about the missing endemics, so dawn saw me climbing over the fence at the hotel and on my way back to the Hotel Presidente grid area.  Vaux's Swifts and a Yucatán Woodpecker were seen on arrival, and a singing bird was quickly tracked down and identified as a Cozumel Wren, also confirming the identity of the bird seen yesterday.  Five minutes gone, and one target bird down!  Both Yucatán and Cozumel Vireos were readily seen, as was a White-tipped Dove, then a bird creeping furtively in the higher branches of a small tree was seen to be a Rufous-browed Peppershrike - great views of a really nice bird.

A White-collared Seedeater was seen around the building in the clearing, while Green-breasted Mangos were again obvious, but still no sign of Cozumel Emerald - this was getting worrying.  I decided on a change of scenery, and drove up to Bella Caribe to check out the mangroves for a Golden Warbler.  The mozzies were bad here, but it wasn't long before I had found the first of two or three of these birds along the last stretch of road before the beach.  One bird kept attacking its reflection in the wing mirror of a parked truck, and showed very well.

Just the Cozumel Emerald left then (I wasn't even trying for the Cozumel Thrasher, as it seemed to be virtually impossible) and I was quickly running out of time, so I drove slowly through the suburbs of Cozumel town for a while checking flowering bushes, but with no luck at all.  I eventually found myself back at the Hotel Presidente grid area, finding Western Stripe-headed Tanager, before stopping off at a small clearing between the main clearing and the main road.  A flash of yellow resulted in great views of Golden Warbler - typical!  Just then, a small hummer flew across, and hovered in front of a flower just in front of me, showing off a deeply forked tail - Cozumel Emerald at last!!

Having finally cleaned up on my target birds, I spent a few minutes more in this area, seeing Bananaquit, Black Catbird and Yellow-faced Grassquit, before returning to the hotel to return the car and collect Sara.  We quickly packed, and caught a cab down to the ferry terminal where we boarded the ferry back to Playa del Carmen.  From there, it was back onto the bus to Cancún airport arriving at 13:00, where I hoped to pick up my hire car and start on our tour of mainland Yucatán.

At this point things started to go downhill rapidly!  I had originally arranged to collect the car at 21:00, but didn't think there'd be any problems with collecting it early - wrong!!  Unfortunately, Europcar seemed to be the only car rental company without an office at the airport, and after an hour of frustrated phoning, I was totally unable to get hold of a phone number for their office in town.  I even tried phoning the International Reservations Dept in the UK, but the number they gave me was unobtainable.

Eventually, I had a brainwave, and wandered over to the Avis office across the parking area, where I asked them if they had a number for Europcar.  They were absolutely brilliant - they called Europcar for me, arranged for the guy to bring the car down immediately, and welcomed us to sit with our luggage in their blissfully cool air-conditioned office.

It wasn't long before the Europcar rep turned up and ran us back into the city.  Having eventually completed all the paperwork, we were on our way by about 15:00, and heading west along the almost empty highway to Valladolid, where we turned north towards Tizimín and Río Lagartos.  Unfortunately, this trip took longer than I had expected, especially the last section north from Tizimín, and the delay in Cancún meant that by the time we arrived there was only maybe 30 minutes of daylight left.

Undeterred we headed off to the Rancho San Salvador junction area described by Howell in the hope of a Yucatán Wren.  Unfortunately, all I found as the light failed were hordes of voracious mosquitoes, and I soon beat a hasty retreat for the car, from where I enjoyed the spectacle of a large number of Lesser Nighthawks hawking overhead.  Back at the junction, a bird sitting on wires over the quarry turned out to be a Turquoise-browed Motmot, (just as Howell had promised!), although sadly the light had deteriorated so badly that it was little more than a silhouette.

We had a quick drive around Río Lagartos town in the hope of finding a decent hotel, but there was nothing apparent.  We backtracked to Tizimín, but by this time I'd lost interest in the place, and so we decided to cut our losses and head straight for Chichén Itzá, where we could at least get a decent long night's sleep - the ruins don't open until 8:00, so no need for a very early start tomorrow.

We stopped off for petrol at Valladolid, where the attendant ripped me off for about USD 10, but I was too tired to really care!  On arrival at Pisté, we had a look at a couple of hotels, eventually settling on the Piramide Inn Hotel, where we crashed out, not even bothering to get anything to eat.

Birds recorded

Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel - Yucatán Woodpecker, Vaux's Swift, Green-breasted Mango, Cozumel Emerald, Common Ground-Dove, White-tipped Dove, Cattle Egret, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Cozumel Vireo, Yucatán Vireo, Black Catbird, Cozumel Wren, Yellow Warbler, Bananaquit, Western Stripe-headed Tanager, White-collared Seedeater, Yellow-faced Grassquit

Bello Caribe, Cozumel - Yellow Warbler

Río Lagartos - Turquoise-browed Motmot, Lesser Nighthawk, Social Flycatcher

Tuesday 28 May 2002

At 7:45 we were queuing by the entrance to Chichén Itzá, waiting for the gate to open - the crowds here can be pretty daunting so we wanted to beat the rush, as well as have a chance to walk around before it got too hot.  While waiting, I spent some time birding along the entrance road - nothing special in the bushes, but nice views of several White-fronted Parrots which flew over, none of which I was able to turn into Yucatán Parrots.  Black Catbird also showed here.

The gate opened at 8:00 sharp, and we parked and headed into the ruins, pausing briefly in the hope that an Altamira Oriole would turn out to be something more interesting.  Birding here wasn't brilliant, but that wasn't the main reason for visiting - these ruins are really stupendous and even birders should take time out to visit.  We wandered slowly around El Castillo, the main pyramid, and up to the Templo de los Guerreros, admiring the amazing views, and watching the numerous Clay-colored Thrushes feeding out on the lawns.

It soon started getting hot and the first coach parties started to arrive, so we headed down to Cenote de los Sacrificios, where we figured it would be cooler and quieter, and where we hoped to buy an ice cream.  The walk down along a tree-lined avenue was as birdy as any other part of the site, with the best sighting being a Masked Tityra.

Good numbers of Cave Swallows were hawking over the cenote, and I got my first decent view of a Turquoise-browed Motmot nearby, while noisy Golden-fronted Woodpeckers were common in the trees around the pool.  The walk back was enlivened by more Golden-fronted Woodpeckers and a Yellow-green Vireo, although a mystery bird which looked suspiciously like a Yellow-billed Cacique disappeared before I could get the bins on it properly, and so escaped identification.

By mid-morning the heat had got to us, and we beat a retreat back to the air-conditioned car.  From Chichén Itzá, we returned to the main highway and drove west for about 50 km, before turning north towards Izamal.  From here we drove north-westwards to Motúl, then turned north to Telchac, eventually reaching the coast at Telchac Puerto.  We turned left (west) here and continued until we reached a turning left (south) for Dzemul.  Here we turned around and headed back east for just 0.5 km, and forked off to the left onto the Nuevo Yucatán loop road, described by Howell.

This is the area Howell recommends as the best in the area for the two North Yucatán Coast endemics, Yucatán Wren and Mexican Sheartail (actually the sheartail is also locally common in a small area of coastal Veracruz but is usually ticked off along the Yucatán coast), and I was quite optimistic despite the stiff breeze, as the habitat looked pretty good.  Initially, however, all that I could see were Tropical Mockingbirds - loads of them everywhere. 

White-lored Gnatcatchers and a Northern Cardinal provided a bit of variety, before an interesting Myiarchus flycatcher perched up near the road.  It obligingly stayed put for several minutes allowing detailed scrutiny through the scope, and I was eventually happy that it was indeed a Yucatán Flycatcher.  This is certainly not an easy bird to identify, needing good views, and I had tried to string several previous Myiarchus flycatchers into this new species.  However, this bird showed a very distinctive grey face, all around the eye, contrasting with the browner crown and nape, as well as indistinct wing bands, lacking any trace of white or rufous.  Even so, it took some five minutes of careful scrutiny before I was totally happy.

After about an hour and a half, there was still no sign of either the wren or the hummer, and we were getting hungry, so we made our way westwards to the town of Progreso.  En route, we stopped off at the lagoon near the Los Flamencos development, where a new observation tower gave excellent views over the water.  Large numbers of American Flamingos were present, as well as American Avocets, Brown Pelican, Neotropic Cormorant and Royal Tern.  A Zenaida Dove flushed from the scrub along the boardwalk and flew away.

At Progreso we made our way down to the sea front, and found a seafood restaurant where we enjoyed a very good lunch, while watching the Laughing Gulls drifting past.  Having eaten and topped up on cold drinks, we returned eastwards for another try at the Nuevo Yucatán area.  This time I struck lucky very quickly, while wandering slowly down the roadside, when a hummingbird buzzed in and perched on a nearby agave plant.  It gave superb views, and while unfortunately only a female, it was very obviously a Mexican Sheartail. 

Almost immediately, a wren-like chattering sound came from across the other side of the road, and as I walked over to investigate, a pair of Yucatán Wrens clambered into sight, and showed for about five minutes.  This really is a great bird, very subtly patterned, and well worth the effort.

Having got my target birds here, we decided to make our way back to Progreso.  Sadly, the mangrove areas around the town seem to have been cleared, the bypass being surrounded on all sides by bare expanses of mud, with a little standing water, and the only bird seen was a solitary Black-necked Stilt.  We considered driving down towards Yucalpeten to check the mangroves in that area, but there wasn't that many lifers on offer, so instead we decided on an early finish, and drove the short distance south to the wonderful town of Mérida, which was to be our base for the next two night.

Having really enjoyed our time on Oaxaca city, another famous old colonial city, two years ago, we decided to stay in the centre of Mérida, and chose the Hotel Misión right in the city centre.  Our decision was somewhat influenced by having picked up some half-price vouchers in Cancún airport, which reduced the room cost from an extravagant USD 100 per night to an affordable USD 50.

We knew the hotel was on the junction of Calle 60 and Calle 57, so we figured that it would be easy to find - just find a street with the road number showing, and work our way numerically until we came across the junction we needed, right?  Wrong!!  First problem was that with each district entered, the numbering system would start from scratch, so we had no idea in which direction we were heading.  Secondly, we had reckoned without the one-way system operating in many parts of the city, which meant that even when we thought we knew which way we wanted to go, we often couldn't!

After an hour of driving around in circles, trying to understand directions given to us, we eventually ended up, more by luck than judgement, back on the Paseo Montejo highway from Progreso, which we had foolishly left far too early, and from here we finally managed to find our way to the city centre and find our hotel.  Having struggled the first time, it subsequently proved quite easy to find the centre of town - coming from the north simply stay on Paseo Montejo, the main highway into the city, until you are forced to turn to the right on Calle 47.  At this point you are in the grid in the centre of the city, and you should be able to find your way to whichever block you need.

There is a guarded open-air car park directly opposite the hotel where we left the car, and checked into the hotel.  It isn't open 24 hours, but there is someone in attendance who will be able to open up for you.  The main point is to ensure that you tell them when you are planning on leaving, as they will take your keys from you and park the car accordingly - you don't want to get back to the lot at 5:00 to find your car parked 5 deep!

No more birding today - just a leisurely end to the afternoon around the pool, then a wander into the city centre to enjoy the sights and sounds, and a nice dinner.

Birds recorded

Chichén Itzá - Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Turquoise-browed Motmot, White-fronted Parrot, Social Flycatcher, Masked Tityra, Yellow-green Vireo, Clay-colored Thrush, Black Catbird, Cave Swallow, Altamira Oriole, Great-tailed Grackle, Bronzed Cowbird

Progreso - Mexican Sheartail, Zenaida Dove, White-winged Dove, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Laughing Gull, Royal Tern, American Flamingo, Brown Pelican, Yucatán Flycatcher, Tropical Mockingbird, Yucatán Wren, White-lored Gnatcatcher, Northern Cardinal

Wednesday 29 May 2002

I had planned an early morning visit to Celestún today, in case I had struggled with the wren and sheartail, and although they were now safely under the belt, there were still plenty more species to try for, so an hour before dawn saw me heading westwards through the abandoned streets of Mérida.  To get out was quite straightforward - head westwards until you reach Avenida de los Itzaes, turn left, and follow it out of the city.

Continue along the road to the town of Umán, where you must turn right towards Celestún.  Unfortunately, I cannot give directions for this turning, other than that it is somewhere near the central square, as I never managed to find it, despite driving aimlessly around the centre of this very small town for half an hour, getting increasingly frustrated!  Eventually, after driving for 10 km in the wrong direction towards Maxcanu and having to turn around, I ended up on a very small caliche road that by pure luck came out on the Celestún road, but it would now be too late to get there by dawn - very annoying.

A brief stop in the town of Samahil for a Turquoise-browed Motmot on overhead wires, and I finally rolled into Celestún about 45 minutes after sun-up.  I stopped first at the bridge over the river as you enter the town, in the hope of finding a Rufous-necked Wood-Rail on the mud, but the tide was right up, and there was hardly any exposed mud available.  I therefore pressed on into the town, and at the T-junction at the end of the road, I turned left and followed the route set out in Howell to the dump south of town. 

Magnificent Frigatebirds were everywhere, and Mangrove Swallows were hawking low over the lagoons.  I was hoping to find a Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture at the dump, but on arrival was stunned to find that not a single vulture was present, despite a profusion of rotting garbage!  I continued down to the shore, briefly scanning the terns resting on the sandbank, before returning to the dump, where a Crested Caracara eventually put in appearance.  Still no vultures though, so I decided to head to the scrub area north of town, with the aim of returning later in the morning when it would be warmer, which I thought might suit the vultures more.

Brown Pelican and Great Blue Heron were also seen in this general area.  On the way out, just before the junction between the side track to the dump and the main track southwards a bird flew from a small bush onto the ground - a Yucatán Wren collecting material for a nest.  I watched it for quite a while flying backwards and forwards between the bush and the ground, before finally moving on.  A Wilson's Phalarope was seen in the harbour as I drove back across the sand dike to the west side of the lagoon.

I went back through town and continued up the coast to the north along an annoyingly corrugated track, undoubtedly the result of tank traffic from the nearby army base.  I pulled over about 2.5 km from the centre of town, just before an army sentry point, and spent some time scanning the scrub.  Almost immediately I saw some movement from the low vegetation on the left near the road about 50 metres ahead, and then a small group of Yucatán Bobwhites ran out, up the road a short distance, and then into the vegetation on the right - a lovely bird which I hadn't really expected to see.

White-lored Gnatcatchers were again present in this low scrub, and a female Mexican Sheartail repeated the performance of the bird yesterday, flying in and perching out on a small twig.  A pair of Myiarchus flycatchers landed on some overhead wires, but despite careful scrutiny I was unable to turn these into more Yucatán Flycatchers, eventually reluctantly concluding that they were Brown-crested.  A noisy flock of Aztec Parakeets screeched overhead, before I decided that I was far too hot, and drove back to check the dump area.

This time there were vultures everywhere - on the ground, in the sky, in the bushes, and all over the adjacent electricity pylon.  Most were Black and Turkey Vultures, but there were several Lesser Yellow-headed Vultures among them, and I had views of both perched and flying birds - quite attractive for a vulture!  On the way back from the dump, a Green Heron was found along the lagoon shore, then it was back to Mérida where I hung up the bins and retired to the pool for a few hours.

By 15:00 it had started to cool down (only a bit, mind), and I persuaded Sara that we should make a trip up to the ruins at Dzibilchaltún.  This was a very nice spot - interesting ruins, with a nice cool cenote in the middle of the site, and no more than a dozen other tourists, so little disturbance while birding.

Almost the first bird I found was a cracking Black-headed Trogon perched quietly in a nearby tree, together with Altamira Orioles, Social Flycatchers and a Bronzed Cowbird.  Wandering behind the cenote I found an oriole that looked a little different, and indeed it was a lovely Orange Oriole, the first of a few seen here - not seen elsewhere.  A perched hummingbird was also seen and identified as a Buff-belled Hummingbird, a very striking bird.

Wandering slowly back towards the exit, I noticed some activity coming from a large tree near one of the ruins, and stopped for a while to see what came out.  A very good selection of birds were seen here - at least one Turquoise-browed Motmot, several Green Jays, Groove-billed Ani, Clay-colored Thrush, Black-headed Saltator and even a Plain Chachalaca which flew in, while Ruddy Ground-Doves fed in the ground beneath.  Eventually, it was kicking-out time, so we returned to Mérida to relax for the evening.

Birds recorded

Samahil - Turquoise-browed Motmot

Celestún - Plain Chachalaca, Yucatán Bobwhite, Aztec Parakeet, Mexican Sheartail, White-winged Dove, Common Ground-Dove, Wilson's Phalarope, Laughing Gull, Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Crested Caracara, Neotropic Cormorant, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, Brown Pelican, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Magnificent Frigatebird, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Yucatán Wren, White-lored Gnatcatcher, Mangrove Swallow, Northern Cardinal

Dzibilchaltún - Plain Chachalaca, Black-headed Trogon, Turquoise-browed Motmot, Groove-billed Ani, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Ruddy Ground-Dove, Social Flycatcher, Green Jay, Clay-colored Thrush, Black-headed Saltator, Orange Oriole, Altamira Oriole, Bronzed Cowbird

Thursday 30 May 2002

Today was basically a driving day, as we had a long journey of some 300 km to make down to Felipe Carrillo Puerto (FCP).  The route itself was pretty straightforward - out of Mérida towards Umán as for Celestún, then left to Muna, where we met Highway 184.  This took us all the way to FCP, via Ticul, Tekax, Tzucacab and Polyuc.

We decided to make a short detour to the ruins at Uxmal, but it was unbearably hot by the time we got there, and we couldn't be bothered to wander around the ruins, so after a pretty unexciting hour's birding around the Hotel Hacienda, we continued on our way to FCP.  Arturo Bayona had booked us into the Hotel La Casona, which took some finding, not least because I'd left Arturo's e-mail at home, and couldn't remember the name of the hotel!!

Eventually we managed to find it (on the south side of the square in the middle of town), and after unpacking we made our first visit to the famous Vigia Chico Road.  First bird seen was an ID problem in the form of a Myiodynastes flycatcher, which I eventually decided was a Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher rather than the less common Streaked.  The usual suspects were much in evidence - Social Flycatchers, Golden-fronted Woodpeckers and Clay-colored Thrush, before I got my best view yet of a Yellow-green Vireo and my first Brown Jay of the trip.

A Caribbean Elaenia was seen well, before a burst of three lifers in quick succession.  Firstly a cracking Black-crowned Tityra gave excellent views, then an obliging Olivaceous Woodcreeper allowed a leisurely identification, before a flock of the much-hoped for Yucatán Parrots flew in.  Several of them perched in the top of a tall tree where I eventually, with the aid of much calling on their behalf, managed to get one in the scope, seeing the distinctive dark cheek spot and red shoulders which clinched the identification.

By now the light was fading and the mozzies were biting, so we returned to town, dumped the car and set off to that regular birder's haunt the El Faisan y El Venado restaurant for a very nice meal of the Yucatán speciality poc chuc (highly recommended) and a cold beer.

Birds recorded

Uxmal - Golden-fronted Woodpecker, White-winged Dove, Social Flycatcher, Clay-colored Thrush, Black Catbird, Black-headed Saltator, Greyish Saltator, Altamira Oriole

Vigia Chico Road, FCP - Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Yucatán Parrot, Caribbean Elaenia, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Social Flycatcher, Black-crowned Tityra, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Yellow-green Vireo, Brown Jay, Clay-colored Thrush

Friday, 31 May 2002

Prior to coming to the Yucatán, I had contacted a local guide named Arturo Bayona who had agreed to guide me for the next two mornings.  I was also to be joined today by American birder Chris Spagnoli who was staying at Akumal, an hour to the north, and we all met up at 6:00 outside the hotel before driving off to the Vigia Chico road.  Before birding the road itself, Arturo took us for a walk around the small reserve that has been established in the primary forest behind the school at the start of the road, and this proved a good move. 

Birding was predictably difficult in this dense forest, with several species heard but not seen, but we managed some good sightings.  Turquoise-browed Motmot and Plain Chachalaca gave good views, although Lineated Woodpecker and Collared Araçari were only heard, before I got my first lifer of the day - the first of several noisy Red-crowned Ant-Tanagers.  Some White-fronted Parrots flew overhead, and a Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher was seen before Arturo found the highlight of the morning, the superb endemic Rose-throated Tanager.

On the way back out we came across an ant swarm, with several Red-crowned Ant-Tanagers in attendance, as well as both Ruddy and Tawny-winged Woodcreepers, which caused some confusion until we realised that both species were present.  Back at the car a Roadside Hawk flew over, before a small flock of parrots flew in and landed in a bush very nearby - Yucatán Parrots giving quite outstanding views.

Back in the car we drove some way down the road, and parked and walked several times.  Birding was generally very quiet, with little seen, although a pair of Keel-billed Toucans flying in and landing above us certainly raised pulses for a while!  Chris and Arturo got on to a Northern Bentbill, which I unfortunately failed to see, and we also got brief views of a Slaty-headed Tody-Flycatcher

Otherwise, the only birds of note seen very a few species of hummingbird - a Wedge-tailed Sabrewing quickly followed by a Buff-bellied Hummingbird, with a Canivet's Emerald some time later.  Birding here was generally becoming unproductive, however, so we decided to drive back to FCP, and southwards to Laguna Ocom which Arturo suggested might be busier. 

We made our first stop 2.2 km along this track, where a Squirrel Cuckoo flew across the road.  A Green-backed Sparrow was calling from the undergrowth, and we eventually managed to get brief but acceptable views of the bird.  Another Northern Bentbill was calling here, but wouldn't show, although a Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher was more obliging.

Back in the car we drove nearly to the lake, where we pulled to the side of the track, and wandered down to the lake shore.  Hooded Oriole and Masked Tityra were among the more interesting birds seen on the way down, with Cave and Mangrove Swallows, Melodious Blackbird, Groove-billed Ani, Couch's Kingbird and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher seen by the shore.

It was now very hot and birding was tough going, so we returned to the hotel where Chris had goodbye as he had to return to Akumal.  Arturo and I agreed to meet up again that evening, and I crashed out in the room to cool down for a few hours.  Arturo returned at 16:00, and we set off back to the Vigia Chico to see what was about.  Birding was still a little slow, but patience was rewarded by some decent birds, starting with Black-headed Trogon and another Rose-throated Tanager.  Plain Chachalacas and Thicket Tinamous were calling nearby but while we managed to see one of the former, the latter remained stubbornly out of view.

Red-crowned Ant-Tanagers were seen a couple of times, while Scrub Euphonia and a Grey-collared Becard were new for the trip, and both Yucatán Parrots and Roadside Hawk were also seen here.  It was then back to the hotel, where we made arrangements to meet again the next morning.

Birds recorded

Vigia Chico Road, FCP - h Thicket Tinamou, Plain Chachalaca, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, h Lineated Woodpecker, h Collared Araçari, Keel-billed Toucan, Black-headed Trogon, Turquoise-browed Motmot, h Blue-crowned Motmot, White-fronted Parrot, Yucatán Parrot, Wedge-tailed Sabrewing, Canivet's Emerald, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Roadside Hawk, Slaty-headed Tody-Flycatcher, h Northern Bentbill, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Grey-collared Becard, Tawny-winged Woodcreeper, Ruddy Woodcreeper, Brown Jay, h White-bellied Wren, Lesser Goldfinch, Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, Rose-throated Tanager, Scrub Euphonia

Laguna Ocom, FCP - Squirrel Cuckoo, Groove-billed Ani, American Egret, Couch's Kingbird, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Social Flycatcher, Masked Tityra, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Mangrove Swallow, Cave Swallow, Green-backed Sparrow, Hooded Oriole, Melodious Blackbird

Saturday 1 June 2002

We met again at 6:00 the next morning, and returned to the Vigia Chico road, where the birding got off to a great start with good views of a White-bellied Wren.  A puzzling flycatcher was eventually identified as a Greenish Elaenia when it finally gave decent views.  A trogon Arturo found in a roadside tree proved to be a Violaceous Trogon, new for the trip, while Barred Antshrike and White-browed Wrens called but wouldn't show.  The wren was especially frustrating - several were heard singing all along this road, but I never managed to actually see one despite trying very hard - the only diurnal Yucatán endemic I missed.

Yucatán Parrots were again seen here - obviously a good site for this bird, and another trogon was identified as a Black-tailed Trogon.  After yesterday's slightly frustrating views, a Green-backed Sparrow have excellent views this morning, while an Olivaceous Woodcreeper was followed by brief views of a much more exciting Ivory-billed Woodcreeper.  Noisy Brown Jays were again much in evidence, but Thicket Tinamous again refused to show, despite calling from several points along the roadside. 

It was now time to leave, as I had to return to the hotel to collect Sara and make our way northwards, but Arturo had saved the best until last - as we drove slowly out along the road a fabulous Ocellated Turkey wandered slowly across the road in front of us, giving fantastic views - definitely bird of the trip!

Elated, I said goodbye to Arturo and we checked out of the hotel, and started on our way northwards.  While I was birding the Vigia Chico road I thought it was a little disappointing, but with hindsight, and reviewing the species list, it turned up a very impressive variety of birds.  It's difficult to argue with such birds as Ocellated Turkey, Keel-billed Toucan, 2 trogon species, Rose-throated Tanager, 4 species of woodcreeper, 2 species of Tityra, Grey-collared Becard etc.  

More time here would undoubtedly have increased the species list further, but Sara was getting bored, and I couldn't really justify staying here longer - I'll have to make future visits to sites such as Tikal, Chan Chich and Palenque to pick up more of the forest birds of the region.

I had by now managed to see most of the Yucatán endemics, but one glaring omission was Yucatán Jay, which I had expected to be among the easier species.  Chris had mentioned that he had been very successful with this species at a site called Aktun Chen, which was not far off the route we would follow to Cobá, so we decided to pay a visit.  We stopped for lunch in Tulúm, then made our way to Aktun Chen, just north of the resort of Xel-Ha. 

When we arrived there, it was absolutely baking hot, and we therefore parked up in the shade to wait for it to cool down a little.  After an hour of two of relaxing, we started the car again, to encounter our second car problem of the trip - I couldn't get any power, with the engine coughing and spluttering, before eventually cutting out and refusing to start.  The tank was half-full, so I suspected some sort of dirt in the fuel, but unfortunately, there seemed little option other than to walk to the nearest hotel to phone the rental company - needless to say I decided to take my bins with my just in case.

The walk to the nearest hotel was very unpleasant in the hot sun, although ironically very profitable as I managed to find a flock of Yucatán Jays en route - glad I took my bins!!  The hotel was one of those really stuffy affairs, with a driveway about a mile long, and when I finally got to the reception the staff were pretty unhelpful.  Luckily I managed to get through to Europcar without any trouble, bought myself a cold drink at an exorbitant price from the hotel shop, and started on the mile long walk back to the car.

Once again, the man from the rental company reached me before I arrived back at the car - very efficient- but this time the car started first time and ran without any trouble at all! - somehow the problem must have cleared up during the hour I was away.  Nevertheless, Europcar decided not to take any chances and I followed their driver in the relief car up to their office in Puerto Aventuras where we completed the paperwork to change the car over.

Having got the jay, there was no real reason to stay in the area, so we returned to Tulúm, and turned right and drove the 40 km or so to Cobá - be careful along this stretch, as there are many potholes.  On arriving at Cobá, we checked into the luxurious Villas Arqueologicas Hotel, stopping briefly to watch a Northern Jacana along the lakeshore.

I still hadn't seen either of the endemic caprimulgids, so I decided to take Howell's recommendation and drove back to the entrance road to the village to do some night-birding.  While I waited for it to go dark I whistled an imitation of a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, and immediately a bird replied - unfortunately while it came quite close it wouldn't come into view.  Driving the road a couple of times after dark produced some eye shine, but nothing I could get the bins onto, and I eventually retreated back to the hotel for a shower and an excellent evening meal.

Birds recorded

Vigia Chico Road, FCP - h Thicket Tinamou, h Plain Chachalaca, Ocellated Turkey, Black-headed Trogon, Violaceous Trogon, Yucatán Parrot, Greenish Elaenia, h Barred Antshrike, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Ivory-billed Woodcreeper, Brown Jay, h White-browed Wren, White-bellied Wren, Green-backed Sparrow, h Greyish Saltator

Aktun Chen - Yucatán Jay

Cobá - h Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Northern Jacana, Green Jay

Sunday 2 June 2002

The ruins at Cobá didn't open until 8:00, so I got out at dawn and spent a couple of hours birding the lakeshore in the hope of seeing a Ruddy Crake.  No sign of this bird, unfortunately, but I was delighted to see a Limpkin feeding along the shore - a bird I'd wanted to see for quite a while.  Better was to come, however, when I found what I thought was a tiger-heron feeding in the marshy area across the road from the ruins car park.  I didn't have my field guide with me, so I took my notes to check it out later.

The ruins had by now opened, so I wandered slowly in.  First up was a White-collared Seedeater, quickly followed by a Black-headed Trogon and a White-bellied Wren.  A pair of ant-tanagers put in an appearance, but these proved to be Red-throated Ant-Tanagers - the female was especially distinctive with a clean buffy throat. 

A Thicket Tinamou was calling from really near the path, but despite my best efforts, including whistling its' call, it point blank refused to come out, and just continued calling from just out of sight - extremely frustrating.

I continued up the track, eventually ending up at the Las Pinturas cluster of stellae, which turned out to be a very productive spot.  Both Yellow-backed and Black-cowled Orioles were present with the commoner Altamira Orioles, as well as Greyish Saltator and my second Ivory-billed Woodcreeper of the trip - the bill was really obvious on this bird even when it flew off and past.

As with FCP, bird activity had really quietened down by about 10:30, so I made my way back to the hotel, and got out my field guide to check out the "tiger-heron" I had seen earlier.  To my surprise it seemed to be a Pinnated Bittern, a bird that wasn't even on my target list.  I dashed out, this time with the field guide, and fortunately the bird was still present, allowing it to be grilled at leisure from quite a short distance,and the identification to be confirmed.

I decided not to go back out birding today, but instead spent a very leisurely afternoon lounging around the pool, reading and sipping piña coladas - wonderful!

Birds recorded

Cobá - h Plain Chachalaca, Black-headed Trogon, Limpkin, Snowy Egret, American Egret, Pinnated Bittern, Ivory-billed Woodcreeper, White-bellied Wren, Red-throated Ant-Tanager, White-collared Seedeater, Greyish Saltator, Yellow-backed Oriole, Black-cowled Oriole

Monday 3 June 2002

Today was our last day in the Yucatán, so I dragged myself out of bed for one last dawn start.  Some time around the lakeshore again failed to produce a Ruddy Crake, but I did see Limpkin, Northern Jacana, Snowy and Great Egrets and a very nice Anhinga on a dead snag.

I again wandered up towards Las Pinturas, stopping along the way for great views of Green-backed Sparrow and a Yellow-green Vireo.  At Las Pinturas, a Yellow-backed Oriole was again present, while a Streaked Flycatcher gave good prolonged views.  Other birds seen were mostly the commoner forest birds seen previously, although on the way out there was one last nice surprise - an Eye-ringed Flatbill which perched down at eye level and allowed me to follow it some way up the path.

Back at the hotel we packed up and drove down to Cancún where we spent an unashamedly touristy afternoon in this concrete jungle, before making our way to the airport and our flight home.

Birds recorded

Cobá - Plain Chachalaca, Limpkin, Northern Jacana, Anhinga, Snowy Egret, American Egret, Eye-ringed Flatbill, Streaked Flycatcher, Yellow-green Vireo, Clay-colored Thrush, Green-backed Sparrow, Yellow-backed Oriole, Altamira Oriole

Species List

Taxonomy is largely based on "A guide to the birds of Mexico and Northern Central America" by Howell and Webb (1995), with one or two subsequent changes.

Please note - where I have not accurately counted the number of a particular species seen, I have preceded the location with 'n'. Numbers of each species seen are understated in many cases, especially regarding the commoner species - I'm not always as diligent as I should be in keeping numbers of species seen.

The letter 'h' denotes that the bird was heard but not seen.

1. Thicket Tinamou  (Crypturellus cinnamomeus)  h Vigia Chico Road, FCP 31.5, h Vigia Chico Road, FCP 1.6

2. Plain Chachalaca  (Ortalis vetula), Celestún 29.5, Dzibilchaltún 29.5, Vigia Chico Road, FCP 31.5, h Vigia Chico Road, FCP 1.6, h Cobá 2.6, Cobá 3.6

3. Ocellated Turkey  (Agriocharis ocellata)  Vigia Chico Road, FCP 1.6

4. Yucatán (Black-throated) Bobwhite  (Colinus nigrogularis)  Celestún 29.5

5. Yucatán Woodpecker   (Melanerpes pygmaeus)  Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 26.5, Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 27.5

6. Golden-fronted Woodpecker  (Melanerpes aurifrons)  Chichén Itzá 28.5, Uxmal 30.5, Vigia Chico Road, FCP 30.5, Vigia Chico Road, FCP 31.5.  The birds were of the red-headed Yucatán race M. a. dubius.

7. Lineated Woodpecker  (Dryocopus lineatus)  h Vigia Chico Road, FCP 31.5

8. Collared Aracari  (Pteroglossus torquatus)  h Vigia Chico Road, FCP 31.5

9. Keel-billed Toucan  (Ramphastos sulfuratus)  Vigia Chico Road, FCP 31.5

10.   Black-headed Trogon  (Trogon melanocephalus)  Dzibilchaltún 29.5, Vigia Chico Road, FCP 31.5, Vigia Chico Road, FCP 1.6, Cobá 2.6

11.   Violaceous Trogon  (Trogon violaceus)  Vigia Chico Road, FCP 1.6

12.   Turquoise-browed Motmot  (Eumomota superciliosa)  Río Lagartos 27.5, Chichén Itzá 28.5, Samahil 29.5, Dzibilchaltún 29.5, Vigia Chico Road, FCP 31.5

13.   Blue-crowned Motmot  (Momotus momota)  h Vigia Chico Road, FCP 31.5

14.   Mangrove Cuckoo  (Coccyzus minor)  h Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 26.5

15.   Squirrel Cuckoo  (Piaya cayana)  Laguna Ocom, FCP 31.5

16.   Groove-billed Ani  (Crotophaga sulcirostris)  Dzibilchaltún 29.5, Laguna Ocom, FCP 31.5

17.   Aztec Parakeet  (Aratinga astec)  Celestún 29.5.  A recent split from Olive-throated Parakeet (Aratinga nana)

18.   White-fronted Parrot  (Amazona albifrons)  Chichén Itzá 28.5, Vigia Chico Road, FCP 31.5

19.   Yellow-lored (Yucatán) Parrot  (Amazona xantholora)  Vigia Chico Road, FCP 30.5, Vigia Chico Road, FCP 31.5, Vigia Chico Road, FCP 1.6

20.   Vaux's Swift  (Chaetura vauxi)  Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 26.5, Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 27.5.  The birds were of the race C. v. gaumeri - Yucatán Swift.

21.   Wedge-tailed Sabrewing  (Campylopterus curvipennis)  Vigia Chico Road, FCP 31.5

22.   Green-breasted Mango  (Anthracothorax prevostii)  Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 26.5, Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 27.5

23.   Cozumel Emerald  (Chlorostilbon forficatus)  Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 27.5

24.   Canivet's Emerald  (Chlorostilbon canivetii)  Vigia Chico Road, FCP 31.5

25.   Buff-bellied Hummingbird  (Amazilia yucatanensis)  Dzibilchaltún 29.5, Vigia Chico Road, FCP 31.5

26.   Mexican Sheartail  (Doricha eliza)  Progreso 28.5, Celestún 29.5

27.   Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl  (Glaucidium brasilianum)  h Cobá 1.6

28.   Lesser Nighthawk  (Chordeiles acutipennis)  Río Lagartos 27.5

29.   Pauraque  (Nyctidromus albicollis)  Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 26.5

30.   White-crowned Pigeon  (Columba leucocephala)  Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 26.5

31.   Zenaida Dove  (Zenaida aurita)  Progreso 28.5

32.   White-winged Dove  (Zenaida asiatica)  Progreso 28.5, Celestún 29.5, Uxmal 30.5

33.   Common Ground-Dove  (Columbina passerina)  Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 27.5, Celestún 29.5

34.   Ruddy Ground-Dove  (Columbina talpacoti)  Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 26.5, Dzibilchaltún 29.5

35.   White-tipped Dove  (Leptotila verreauxi)  Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 26.5, Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 27.5

36.   Limpkin  (Aramus guarauna)  Cobá 2.6, Cobá 3.6

37.   Wilson's Phalarope  (Steganopus tricolor)  Celestún 29.5

38.   Northern Jacana  (Jacana spinosa)  Cobá 1.6, Cobá 3.6

39.   Black-necked Stilt  (Himantopus mexicanus)  Progreso 28.5

40.   American Avocet  (Recurvirostra americana)  Progreso 28.5

41.   Laughing Gull  (Larus atricilla)  Progreso 28.5, Celestún 29.5

42.   Royal Tern  (Sterna maxima)  Progreso 28.5, Celestún 29.5

43.   Sandwich Tern  (Sterna sandvicensis),  Celestún 29.5

44.   Common Tern  (Sterna hirundo)  Celestún 29.5

45.   Roadside Hawk  (Buteo magnirostris)  Vigia Chico Road, FCP 31.5

46.   Crested Caracara  (Polyborus plancus)  Celestún 29.5

47.   Anhinga  (Anhinga anhinga)  Cobá 3.6

48.   Neotropic Cormorant  (Phalacrocorax brasilianus)  Celestún 29.5

49.   Double-crested Cormorant  (Phalacrocorax auritus)  Celestún 29.5

50.   Snowy Egret  (Egretta thula)  Cobá 2.6, Cobá 3.6

51.   Great Blue Heron  (Ardea herodias)  Celestún 29.5

52.   American Egret  (Casmerodius albus)  Laguna Ocom, FCP 31.5, Cobá 2.6, Cobá 3.6

53.   Cattle Egret  (Bubulcus ibis)  Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 26.5, Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 27.5, Celestún 29.5

54.   Green Heron  (Butorides virescens)  Celestún 29.5

55.   Pinnated Bittern  (Botaurus pinnatus)  Cobá 2.6

56.   American Flamingo  (Phoenicopterus ruber)  Progreso 28.5

57.   Brown Pelican  (Pelecanus occidentalis)  Progreso 28.5, Celestún 29.5

58.   Black Vulture  (Coragyps atratus)  Common throughout

59.   Turkey Vulture  (Cathartes aura)   Common throughout

60.   Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture  (Cathartes burrovianus)  Celestún 29.5

61.   Magnificent Frigatebird  (Fregata magnificens)  Celestún 29.5

62.   Slaty-headed Tody-Flycatcher  (Todirostrum sylvia)  Vigia Chico Road, FCP 31.5

63.   Greenish Elaenia  (Myiopagis viridicata)  Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 26.5, Vigia Chico Road, FCP 1.6

64.   Caribbean Elaenia  (Elaenia martinica)  Chan Kanaab Park, Cozumel 26.5, Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 26.5, Vigia Chico Road, FCP 30.5.

65.   Northern Bentbill  (Oncostoma cinereigulare)  h Vigia Chico Road, FCP 31.5

66.   Eye-ringed Flatbill  (Rhynchocyclus brevirostris)  Cobá 3.6

67.   Yucatán Flycatcher  (Myiarchus yucatanensis)  Progreso 28.5

68.   Dusky-capped Flycatcher  (Myiarchus tuberculifer)  Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 26.5

69.   Brown-crested Flycatcher  (Myiarchus tyrannulus)  Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 26.5, Celestún 29.5

70.   Tropical Kingbird  (Tyrannus melancholicus)  Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 26.5

71.   Couch's Kingbird  (Tyrannus couchii)  Laguna Ocom, FCP 31.5

72.   Streaked Flycatcher  (Myiodynastes maculatus)  Cobá 3.6

73.   Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher  (Myiodynastes luteiventris)  Vigia Chico Road, FCP 30.5, Vigia Chico Road, FCP 31.5, Laguna Ocom, FCP 31.5

74.   Social Flycatcher  (Myiozetetes similes)  Río Lagartos 27.5, Chichén Itzá 28.5, Dzibilchaltún 29.5, Uxmal 30.5, Vigia Chico Road, FCP 30.5, Laguna Ocom, FCP 31.5

75.   Grey-collared Becard  (Pachyramphus major)  Vigia Chico Road, FCP 31.5

76.   Masked Tityra  (Tityra semifasciata)  Chichén Itzá 28.5, Laguna Ocom, FCP 31.5

77.   Black-crowned Tityra  (Tityra inquisitor)  Vigia Chico Road, FCP 30.5

78.   Barred Antshrike  (Thamnophilus doliatus)  h Vigia Chico Road, FCP 1.6

79.   Tawny-winged Woodcreeper  (Dendrocincla anabatina)  Vigia Chico Road, FCP 31.5

80.   Ruddy Woodcreeper  (Dendrocincla homochroa)  Vigia Chico Road, FCP 31.5

81.   Olivaceous Woodcreeper  (Sittasomus griseicapillus)  Vigia Chico Road, FCP 30.5, Vigia Chico Road, FCP 1.6

82.   Ivory-billed Woodcreeper  (Xiphorhynchus flavigaster)  Vigia Chico Road, FCP 1.6, Cobá 2.6

83.   Rufous-browed Peppershrike  (Cyclarhis gujanensis)  Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 27.5.  The birds were of the distinctive endemic Cozumel race C. g. insularis

84.   Cozumel Vireo  (Vireo bairdii)  Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 26.5, Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 27.5

85.   Yellow-green Vireo  (Vireo flavoviridis)  Chichén Itzá 28.5, Vigia Chico Road, FCP 30.5, Cobá 3.6

86.   Yucatán Vireo  (Vireo magister)  Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 26.5, Chan Kanaab Park, Cozumel 26.5, Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 27.5

87.   Yucatán Jay  (Cyanocorax yucatanicus)  Aktun Chen 1.6

88.   Green Jay  (Cyanocorax yncas)  Dzibilchaltún 29.5, Cobá 1.6.  The birds were of the distinctive yellow-bellied Yucatán race C. y. maya

89.   Brown Jay  (Psilorhinus morio)  Vigia Chico Road, FCP 30.5, Vigia Chico Road, FCP 31.5, Vigia Chico Road, FCP 1.6

90.   Clay-colored Thrush  (Turdus grayi)  Chichén Itzá 28.5, Dzibilchaltún 29.5, Uxmal 30.5, Vigia Chico Road, FCP 30.5, Cobá 3.6

91.   Black Catbird  (Melanoptila glabrirostris)  Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 26.5, Chan Kanaab Park, Cozumel 26.5, Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 27.5, Chichén Itzá 28.5, Uxmal 30.5

92.   Tropical Mockingbird  (Mimus gilvus)  Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 26.5, Progreso 28.5

93.   Yucatán Wren  (Campylorhynchus yucatanicus)  Progreso 28.5, Celestún 29.5

94.   White-browed Wren  (Thryothorus (ludovicianus) albinucha)  h Vigia Chico Road, FCP 1.6

95.   Cozumel Wren  (Troglodytes beani)  Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 26.5, Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 27.5

96.   White-bellied Wren  (Uropsila leucogastra)  h Vigia Chico Road, FCP 31.5, Vigia Chico Road, FCP 1.6, Cobá 2.6

97.   Blue-grey Gnatcatcher  (Polioptila caerulea)  Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 26.5, Laguna Ocom, FCP 31.5.  The birds on Cozumel were of the dusky endemic Cozumel race P. c. cozumelae

98.   White-lored Gnatcatcher  (Polioptila albiloris)  Progreso 28.5, Celestún 29.5

99.   Mangrove Swallow  (Tachycineta albilinea)  Celestún 29.5, Laguna Ocom, FCP 31.5

100.  Cave Swallow  (Hirundo fulva)  Chichén Itzá 28.5, Laguna Ocom, FCP 31.5

101.  Lesser Goldfinch  (Carduelis psaltria)  Vigia Chico Road, FCP 31.5

102.  Green-backed Sparrow  (Arremonops chloronotus)  Laguna Ocom, FCP 31.5, Vigia Chico Road, FCP 1.6, Cobá 3.6

103.  Yellow Warbler  (Dendroica petechia)  Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 26.5, Bello Caribe, Cozumel 27.5. Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 27.5.  The birds were of the endemic Cozumel race Golden Warbler D. p. rufivertex

104.  Bananaquit  (Coereba flaveola)  Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 26.5, Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 27.5.  The birds were of the endemic race C. f. caboti

105.  Red-crowned Ant-Tanager  (Habia rubica)  Vigia Chico Road, FCP 31.5

106.  Red-throated Ant-Tanager  (Habia fuscicauda )  Cobá 2.6

107.  Rose-throated Tanager  (Piranga roseogularis)  Vigia Chico Road, FCP 31.5

108.  Western Stripe-headed Tanager  (Spindalis zena)  Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 26.5, Chan Kanaab Park, Cozumel 26.5, Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 27.5

109.  Scrub Euphonia  (Euphonia affinis)  Vigia Chico Road, FCP 31.5

110.  White-collared Seedeater  (Sporophila torqueola)  Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 27.5, Cobá 2.6

111.  Yellow-faced Grassquit  (Tiaris olivacea)  Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 26.5, Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 27.5.  The birds were of the endemic Cozumel race T. o. intermedia

112.  Northern Cardinal  (Cardinalis cardinalis)  Progreso 28.5, Celestún 29.5

113.  Black-headed Saltator  (Saltator atriceps)  Dzibilchaltún 29.5, Uxmal 30.5

114.  Greyish Saltator  (Saltator coerulescens)  Uxmal 30.5, h Vigia Chico Road, FCP 1.6, Cobá 2.6

115.  Yellow-backed Oriole  (Icterus chrysater)  Cobá 2.6, Cobá 3.6

116.  Orange Oriole  (Icterus auratus)  Dzibilchaltún 29.5

117.  Altamira Oriole  (Icterus gularis)  Chichén Itzá 28.5, Dzibilchaltún 29.5, Uxmal 30.5, Cobá 3.6

118.  Hooded Oriole  (Icterus cucullatus)  Chan Kanaab Park, Cozumel 26.5, Laguna Ocom, FCP 31.5

119.  Black-cowled Oriole  (Icterus dominicensis)  Cobá 2.6

120.  Melodious Blackbird  (Dives dives)  Laguna Ocom, FCP 31.5

121.  Great-tailed Grackle  (Quiscalus mexicanus)  Hotel Presidente grid, Cozumel 26.5, Chan Kanaab Park, Cozumel 26.5, Chichén Itzá 28.5

122.  Bronzed Cowbird  (Molothrus aeneus)  Chan Kanaab Park, Cozumel 26.5, Chichén Itzá 28.5, Dzibilchaltún 29.5

What did I miss?

Plenty!  Not surprising, really, given the relaxed approach to the trip and the season.  The main target species missed were as follows:

1. Yucatán Poorwill  (Nyctiphrynus yucatanicus) - Found at Felipe Carrillo Puerto and Cobá

2. Yucatán Nightjar  (Caprimulgus badius) - Found on Cozumel, also at Felipe Carrillo Puerto and Cobá

3. Ruddy Crake  (Laterallus ruber) - Many have seen this bird at the lake at Cobá

4. Cozumel Thrasher  (Toxostoma guttatum) - Endemic to Cozumel, where it has been extremely rare since the island was devastated by a hurricane in 1988, and is very rarely recorded.  Good luck!!

5. Mangrove Vireo  (Vireo pallens) - an annoying miss, this one, as it should have been quite easy.  Found at a variety of sites, e.g. Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Celestún, Dzibilchaltún, Progreso, Río Lagartos etc

6. White-browed Wren  Thryothorus (ludovicianus) albinucha) - I heard this bird at Felipe Carrillo Puerto, and possible also at Cobá, but couldn't see one. 

7. Grey-throated Chat  (Granatellus sallaei) - this one is probably best looked for at Felipe Carrillo Puerto, but no sign during my visit, and Arturo didn't know of any particularly reliable sites.


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