Sunday, February 27, 2011

Brief Birding in Mexico

While on a family vacation in Cancun, my wife and I were able to break away for a morning of birding in Puerto Morelos at Jardin Botanica Dr. Alfredo Barrera. We were not sure what to expect as we rode in the cab on our way from the Hotel Zone down to Puerto Morelos. There is little information available about this site other than it is known to be a pretty good birding location. We pulled into the dirt parking lot and saw the little hut that serves as the main gate. The cab driver offered to stay and wait for us for no extra charge, so we took him up on the offer. The man working at the garden was very nice. After paying our entrance fee, he gave us a map of the property and also let us borrow some bug spray to keep the biting insects away!

As we headed into the park, I quickly found a bird moving on the ground. Instead of one of the hoped for local birds, it was an Ovenbird. This trend continued as we found quite a few species of warblers throughout the morning. Just a little ways down the path, we found one of our highlights of the whole day. A group of spider monkeys was in the tree right above us! We were able to watch them for more than 5 minutes as the played in the trees and one even came down to get a drink from a tub of water!

Adult Monkey with a Baby

We continued around much of the property finding very few birds other than ones that would fly away from us and remain unidentified. A flock of parrots flew over but I was unable to get my binoculars on them, so they remained unidentified as well. About halfway around the loop trail, we came upon a lot more movement. Most of the birds got away before I was able to identify them, but a Black Catbird was spotted. I was feeling a little disappointed as we got close to the end of the loop when suddenly there were birds everywhere! The first bird I identified was a Yucatan Vireo, and shortly after that we saw a Yucatan Jay. Two endemics in a row!

We spent the next 45 minutes working to identify all the birds that we could that were congregated around an ant swarm. One ant bite and 5 lifers later, I was very happy with the outing. I think we might have gotten more species had I been more careful and not gotten biten by one of the ants!

Ivory-billed Woodcreeper

We headed back to the taxi with no new birds but lots of iguanas and a couple of really cool butterflies including the one below.



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