Saturday, January 5, 2013

Birding Rio Lagartos by Boat

Eric writes:  One of the many highlights of birding in Mexico was birding by boat out of Rio Lagartos.  Within minutes of leaving the dock you can be in the middle of mangroves, next to flocks of shorebirds, or heading towards flocks of American Flamingos.  Most tourists just go out for the flamingos but if you are a birder you'd rather spend time looking for other birds as well.

The view from the boat as we took off.
Our guide took us out to the mudflats first.  There were thousands of shorebirds, most too distant to identify with just binoculars but we did see Wilson's and Piping Plovers well.  And we got great looks at some bigger shorebirds such as American Avocet and Oystercatcher, Long-billed Curlew, and Whimbrel.  There were also plenty of egrets and herons, terns, pelicans, and gulls feeding and resting in the same areas.

American Avocet

Long-billed Curlew
After enjoying the shorebirds, we headed towards the mangroves.  We quickly found out that Bare-throated Tiger Herons were quite common in this habitat.  We saw many individuals, both adults and first year birds, and most were quite tame.  We also came upon a few Common Black-Hawks; one of which was extremely tame and let the boat come within about 20 feet of it.  After finding a couple single Boat-billed Herons, we got to a small roost of 8-10 or more Boat-billeds.  I had seen this species when I birded in western Mexico and it was just as cool now as it was then.  After spending a little while searching (unsuccessfully) for American Pygmy Kingfisher, we headed to the area for flamingos.

Bare-throated Tiger-Heron
Wood Stork-as always, a very cool bird to see
An adult Yellow-crowned Night-Heron-as tame as they are in parts of
The extremely cooperative Common Black-Hawk

I quickly realized that flamingos are some of the coolest birds you can ever see.  I had seen them in captivity but seeing them in the wild is amazing.  Their long curved necks, large bills, and long legs create a somewhat awkwardly proportioned bird.  And the take off doesn't make them seem much more coordinated, before they are able to take flight, they have to take a few steps (as if they are running) on the water while pumping their wings.

A part of one of the flocks-I knew we would see this species but I didn't
realize they would become one of my favorite birds

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