Black Catbird, a charming Yucatán endemic, is quite easy to see on Cozumel. Photo: Rich Hoyer
Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is famous for its spectacular Maya ruins, warm climate, and delicious regional cuisine. It is also a notable center of bird endemism with species such as Yucatan Bobwhite, Yucatan Parrot, Yucatan Woodpecker, and Yucatan Wren. This tour distills the best of the Yucatán into a short unhurried trip that takes in the peninsula’s dry forest, coastal scrub, lagoons, mangroves, and tall humid forest before ending on Isla Cozumel, with its Caribbean flavor, four island endemics, and great snorkeling. At this season many migrant warblers from eastern North America are present, and flocks of resident flamingos feed among throngs of migrant shorebirds.
Day 1: The trip begins at 6:00 pm in Cancún. Night near Cancún.
Day 2: Today we’ll drive south, birding at an attractive botanical garden in the morning, and stopping for lunch at the scenic Maya ruins of Tulum, overlooking the white sand beaches and turquoise waters of Mexico’s Caribbean coast. From here we’ll continue south to the town of Felipe Carrillo Puerto. Night in Felipe Carrillo Puerto.
Day 3: We’ll have a full day’s birding in the rich forests near town, where species include Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Wedge-tailed Sabrewing, Keel-billed Toucan, Northern Bentbill, Tropical Gnatcatcher, Blue Bunting, and the very local Gray-throated Chat and Rose-throated Tanager. We even have a fair chance of coming across a swarm of army ants, which should be attended by Ruddy and Northern Barred Woodcreepers. Night in Felipe Carrillo Puerto.
Day 4: We’ll spend the morning birdwatching in the forest near our hotel, where we’re sure to add some new species. After lunch we’ll drive north to the picturesque Yucatan town of Valladolid, our base for the next two days. Night in Valladolid.
Day 5: We’ll depart early to visit the north coast at Río Lagartos. The arid scrub here is home to two very local endemics, the tiny Mexican Sheartail and the garrulous Yucatan Wren, both of which we should see. We’ll take a boat trip through mangrove-fringed lagoons in search of American Flamingo, Reddish Egret, Boat-billed Heron, and perhaps Kelp Gull, a recent colonist. After lunch we’ll visit a nearby saltworks, home to Snowy Plover, Gull-billed Tern, and large flocks of migrant shorebirds that support numbers of wintering Peregrine Falcon and Merlin. Night in Valladolid.
Day 6: This morning we’ll drive to the nearby ruins of Chichén Itzá, where the surrounding woodland will provide another taste of the Yucatán’s distinctive avifauna. Birds here include Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Cinnamon Hummingbird, Turquoise-browed Motmot, Cave Swallow, Yucatán Jay, and Orange Oriole. There will be time to view the ruins, the remains of one of the most complex of all Late Classic Maya ceremonial centers. After lunch we’ll drive back to Cancún for our trip over to the Caribbean island of Cozumel. Night in Cozumel.
Days 7-8: Mexico’s Cozumel Island has an interesting mix of Caribbean, Yucatan Peninsula, and island-endemic birds. We have two full days to explore the island in search of White-crowned Pigeon, Yucatan Parrot, Cozumel Emerald, Caribbean Elaenia, Black Catbird, Yucatan and Cozumel Vireos, Cozumel Wren, Western Spindalis, the distinctive races (or species?) of Bananaquit and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and the now very scarce (extinct?) Cozumel Thrasher. Wintering migrants include Palm, Prairie, Cape May, Yellow-throated, and Swainson’s Warblers. Nights in Cozumel.
Day 9: The tour concludes this morning in Cozumel.
Updated: 10 December 2010