Six friends, Mike Brady, Randall Davis, Tom Evans, John Haddix, Tim Hand and Brad Benter (firstname.lastname@example.org) went on a two week all out bird finding quest through the Yucatan and Eastern Chiapas. Using past trip reports, information from the internet and the Howell birding guide we planned a trip that would allow us to see as many endemic birds of this area as we could. We used the guia roji and International Travel road maps and found them very accurate and helpful.
In this report I will list the target birds as well as some other good birds that we were able to find. I contacted Birdsounds.nl and ordered a copy of the new Birds of Mexico MP3 sound collection, they DHL shipped a copy that arrived six hours before my flight departed. This is a great tool for learning the bird calls of the region and helped us find several birds.
Our trip started and ended in Cancun. We rented a Jeep Liberty from Executive and a Ford Escape from Avis. Both cars worked well throughout the 4000 km of driving and both rental agencies kept to their price of $1200 for 15 days. I do recommend a high clearance vehicle for the travel, mostly for crossing topes (speed bumps) when you have several persons in a vehicle. Last year in Oaxaca we returned a car after one day due to high centering on most rural topes. We found most roads in great condition (compared to Alaska) and again found driving in Mexico to be fairly safe. We did very little driving at night and asked for advice from many locals about the roads we traveled, especially the Frontera Road between Lagunas de Montebello and Frontera. We didn’t have any problems here and found the six different military checkpoints quite friendly.
January 17 - Flight into Cancun, picked up rental cars and drove 3.5 hours to Felipe Carillo Puerto, night in Fasin y el Venado hotel at 400 pesos per triple.
January 18 - Birded Vigia Chico Road to km 10 with pre dawn and night birding.
January 19 - Morning on Vigia Chico road to Km 15. The afternoon was spent driving to Calukmul. Spent the night camping at Servidores Turistcos Calukmul (8Km down Calukmul road) for 50 pesos per person. This was a wonderful place that we would all recommend. The owners were very accommodating and prepared delicious meals, sometimes at unusual hours at our request.
January 20 - Birded at the lake at km 27.2 at first light and spent the rest of the day birding at the Calukmul ruins. We camped again at Servidores Turistcos.
January 21 - Went to kilometer 27.2 km before daylight and began birding at the lake at daybreak and then birded along the road to the ruins at Calukmul which opened at 8:00am. After birding at the ruins until 11:00 we drove 3 hours to marshes and wetlands near Balancan and birded until dark. After another hour plus drive to Palenque arriving at about 07:30 pm. We spent night at the Hotel Posada de Mariposa on the road to the ruins (400 pesos for triple-not great and prices were considerably more when we stopped in the following day).
January 22 - After some early morning owling along the road we birded the Cascade Trail system just below the main entrance to the ruins at Palenque which do not open until 0800 hrs. The rest of the day was spent birding around the ruins including the Temple of Inscriptions Trail up to Km3. We spent the night in La Canada Hotel for 500 pesos for a triple which was a much nicer place with gated parking.
January 23 - In the early morning we birded along the Cascade Trails and then drove 5 hours to Junction of Ocosingo Highway and San Cristobal Comitan highway. Soon after we arrived at the entrance (km 2) we were approached by three drunks telling us we were not allowed in this area. Although the area looked very good for birding we decided to avoid any confrontation and headed toward San Cristobal where we found lodging at the Hotel Montezuma near Zocala (400 pesos for a triple).
January 24 - Returned to the Ocosingo/Comitan Highway intersection and drove past the location we stopped at yesterday to Km 3.5 where a road branched off to the right into nice mixed forest. This road was before the Dose Lagunas Ejido Road. The late afternoon was spent birding at the Cerro de Huitepec Reserve. We stayed at the same hotel as last night.
January 25 - Starting at dawn we birded at the Cerro de Huitepec Reserve and then drove for 2.5 hours to Chinkultic ruins where we birded in the rain for about an hour. Many of us wished we could have had more time here. Spent the night in the town of Tziscao, Lagos de Montebello at a hotel right on the lake bordering Guatemala (beautiful area,150 pesos per person, great fresh fish dinner)
January 26 - Birded several different areas around Lagos de Montebello in the morning and 4.5 hours on Highway 307 to Frontera where we arranged for boat to Yaxchilan early the next morning. Although lodging was available we spent the night camping near the boat launch for 50 pesos per person.
January 27 - We left for the ruins at Yaxchilan by 0630 hrs and returned early in the afternoon. After lunch we drove (¡Ö 1 hr) to Laconja and arranged for early trip into Bonampak with Magarito. Bird the dirt road out of Lacanja in the evening. Spend the night in cabanas near the river for 150 pesos per person (nice place and nice people)
January 28 - Miquelle drove us in to Bonampak early in the morning and we birded until early in the afternoon. From Bonampak we drove three hours to Palenque. We spent night at La Canada Hotel again for 500 pesos for a triple.
January 29 - The early morning was spent birding along the La Libertad Road and then we headed to the Usumacinta River and marshes north and west of Balancan. After a long day including another four hours of driving we found a hotel in the town of Hecelchakan, north of Campeche (300 pesos for a triple).
January 30 - After driving along the potholed back roads thru Lazaro Cardenas we arrived in the small fishing town of Celestun (¡Ö 3 hours). We birded along the mangroves near Celestun until lunch and then drove to Chichen Itza (4hrs) arriving shortly before 1700 hrs. We birded here for an hour until closing time and then drove for another three more hours to Rio Lagartos where we spent the night in the Hotel Villa de Pescadoro on the waterfront (excellent host and service). We were able to arrange for an early boat trip for the next day with hotel owner.
January 31 - Although we paid for a three hour boat trip the total time was more like 5 hours. After a great lunch at Isla Contoy we had a really productive three hours in the afternoon around Rio Lagartos with guide Ismael. We left at 1600 hrs for Puerto Morales (3 hrs) and spent the night in an easily forgettable hotel for 400 pesos for a triple.
February 1 - Birded the botanical gardens, Jardin Botanico Dr Alfredo Barrera Marin, from first light until noon and then off to the Airport for our flight back to Alaska.
January 18 - We started birding at 5:00 am in attempt to find Topocaminos (nightjars). We were able to locate Yucatan Poorwill without problem and heard them on several occasions. Tom was able to hear one Yucatan Nightjar very early in the morning. We spent most of our time in the more heavily wooded areas of the Viaga Chica Road. There are two lakes that can be found by driving the few side roads off the main road after about 5 Km (these are mentioned in Howells guide). We ran into several nice mixed flocks and found several of the expected endemics (Yucatan Jay, Yucatan Woodpecker, Gray-throated Chat, White-browed Wren, Green-backed Sparrow, Black Catbird, Caribbean Elaenia) and several other good birds (Mangrove Vireo, Rufous-browed Pepershrike) on these side roads. We also found the cut over areas of the first several Kms of the road very active and picked up several good birds (Black Catbird, Yucatan Flycatcher, Orange Oriole, Grey-throated Chat, Yucatan Bobwhite, Blue Bunting) here. Around sunset we were back down the road near Km 10 and the Thicket Tinamous were calling from every direction. Shortly after dark we called in a Vermiculated Screech-Owl in this area. We found this owl to be common in this area.
January 19 - This morning we drove in about 15 Km in the dark and started birding from here. The trees get bigger until about km 13-14 and then the forest begins to open up to some cut second growth pasture edge type habitat. On the drive in we had several night jars with Paraque being the only one we could get a positive ID on. As dawn approached, I was lucky enough to spot a pair of Thicket Tinamou off the side of the road. At first light several flocks of Yucatan Parrots flew overhead with several landing in the fruiting trees around us and with the Toucans, Aracaries and Parakeets, quite a show. We still lacked Rose-throated Tanager and started to focus on finding this bird as we drove back to the thicker forest and started looking for mixed flocks. By imitating a Ferruginous Pygmy-owl and walking down the road, we called in many mixed flocks of warblers, vireos and flycatchers. This went on for an hour before we attracted the attention of a beautiful pair of Rose-throated Tanagers, which was the only sighting we had during the trip. Once we picked up this bird we decided to move on. The rest of the day was spent on the four hour drive to Calukmul. John had been to Calukmul last year and recommended camping at Servidores Turistcos Calukmul (8 km down Calukmul road). This turned out to be one of the best experiences of our trip. Fernando and Leticia bent over backwards to make our stay pleasant. Thicket Tinamous called from all around as we set up our tents. After a nice dinner we drove down the road to the checkpoint looking for interesting critters.
January 20 - We arrived at the checkpoint at 6:30 am and asked if we could bird the road to Calukmul. We were informed that the ruins don’t open until 8:00 but were allowed to pass to go birding on the road. There is a small lake at Km 27.2, our target for first light. It seems that the heavy rains from the past fall had the waters several feet higher than usual and the trail that circles the lake was flooded for several hundred feet on the far side. I decided to wade through as I usually only wear Tevas and didn’t mind getting wet, or leeches. I was rewarded with excellent views of an Agami Heron, my first. Other good birds here included several Grey-necked Wood-rails. We decided to be at the entrance of the ruins by eight. We ran into no less than 50 Ocellated Turkeys on the drive in and were greeted by a group of habituated birds in the parking lot. There are several different trails throughout the complex. Tom saw the first Royal Flycatcher of the trip by the first set of ruins off the main trail to the largest ruins. Royal flycatchers seemed particularly abundant in Yucutan and Chiapas compared to other birding locations further south in Belize and Costa Rica. The birding started off slow until we ran into an ant swarm off the Routa Larga trail. We located several good birds associated with the swarm including Red-capped Manikin, Royal flycatcher, Bright-rumped Attila and White-bellied Wren. Birding slowed by mid morning and several in our group climbed the tallest ruins and watched for birds of prey. Mike was lucky enough to have an Ornate Hawk-eagle land within 50 feet of him and we spotted a few Bat Falcons hunting in the area. We continued to pick up good birds throughout the day and decided to try the lake again that evening. We again located several Grey-necked Wood-rails and had a Vermiculated Screech-owl calling from the road.
January 21 - First light again at the lake at Km27.2 with no luck on the heron. On the drive to the parking lot we spotted a Crested Guan in the trees next to the road. Several nice mixed species flocks were found on a walk down the road towards the ruin and Brad saw the only Grey-collard Becard of the trip. At 8:00 am we entered the ruins and headed down the main trail when a male Great Currasow crossed the path, another was seen on the drive out. We birded the trails until noon adding some nice birds including Northern Bentbill, Grey-throated Chat, Collard Forest-falcon and a female Lovely Cotinga. The drive from Calukmul to the Usamacina Marshes took about 4 hours and gave us a little time to bird the area. We heard that a good spot to see Jabiru was near Balancan so we took the back roads and headed for this area. Birding on these back roads proved exciting as there were lots of good birds and the habitat made it fairly easy to see the birds. On one stop Mike flushed a Pinneated Bittern from the edge of a side road. We also found a grassy field with 18 Double-Striped Thick-Knees, two kilometers before turning south on the road to Balancan. We picked up dozens of good trip birds in this area including Fork-tailed Flycatcher and Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture. Once the sun set we drove the remaining hour to Palenque and found a hotel on the road to the ruins. A Mottled Owl and Vermiculated Screech-owl were calling behind our room.
January 22 - This morning we set out early to do some owling, with little success. We set off down the Cascade Trail system, off the pullout on the big left-hand bend before the ruins. Birding here was excellent with several new birds. On the lower trail there were several fruiting and flowering trees with Green and Red-legged Honey-creepers, White-necked Jacobin, Crimson-collared and Scarlet-rumped Tanagers. The upper fork of the trail goes in for several kilometers and has good birding, if you arrive before the crowds. This morning our group also located Mexican Antthrush, Grey-headed Dove, Orange-billed sparrow and Slaty-tailed Trogon on this trail. The ruins open up at 8:00 am and we were the first through the gate. We split up with most of us going up the Inscriptions Trail. We birded the first 3 Kms of this trail at different times throughout the day. Birding was fairly slow but the birds were quality. John was lucky enough to get long looks a Slaty-breasted Tinamou and others saw Blue-black Grosbeak and Red-capped Manakin. Other good birds seen around the ruins were Dusky Antbird, Barred Antshrike, and a Black Hawk-eagle overhead. We ended the day by birding our way back down the road to the museum.
January 23 - This morning was again spent birding the upper Cascade Trail and the road up to the ruins. Several large mixed flocks were found that included Long-billed Gnatwren, Royal Flycatcher, Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner, Barred Antshrike, Dusky Antwren, Plain Xenops, Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher, Rufous-breasted Spinetail and Blue-black Grosbeak. Other good birds found on the road were Black-throated Shrike tanager, Yellow-olive and Ochre-bellied Flycatchers. We packed up around 11:00 and started our drive to San Cristobal De Casas. The drive took nearly five hours with few stops. We arrived at the spot Howell recommended (Km 2) on the Ocosingo Highway an hour before sunset and thought a little birding would be a good way to stretch out. Within minutes a pickup drove up and three drunk men got out to let us know we were not allowed here, even though we were on the side of the road. We decided to drive on into San Cristobal and get a room.
January 24 - We started out very early looking for owls off the Ocosingo Highway. We were able to get a response from an Unspotted Saw-whet Owl, but never heard any Bearded Screech-owls. At first light we found a side track down about Km 4 of the Highway. This is about one Km before the Dose Lagunas Ejido Road. This track went around and between two corn fields and ended up in good mixed pine habitat. Within fifteen minutes we were on a mixed flock with both Golden-cheeked and Pink-headed Warblers. Other good birds in the area included Rufous-collared thrush, Band-backed wrens and Yellow-eyed Juncos. After our experience from the day before we decided to head off to Cerro Heitepec Reserve for the rest of the day. There are several good trails here so we started out splitting up. I was already climbing the highest loop trail when a call came in from Mike with a Blue-throated Motmot near the streambed. This was one of my most sought after birds, I was there within a few minutes. What a wonderful accommodating bird. Randall obtained some excellent images. We spent the rest of the day birding here and felt we had just touched the surface. Other good birds seen today included more Pink-headed, Cresent-chested, Olive, Red-faced, Golden-browed, Rufous-capped and Golden-cheeked Warblers, Slate-throated redstarts, a Blue and White mockingbird, Amethyst-throated and Garnet-throated Hummingbirds, Spot-crowned woodcreepers, Rufous-browed Wrens, White-naped and Rufous-browed Brushfinches, and Cinnamon-bellied Flower-piercer. When we left we asked if we could come back early in the morning. A young man named Javier offered to be our guide for 100 pesos per person, we took him up on it.
January 25 - It was 6:30 in the morning and Javier was waiting with the gate open. According to Javier, we should have arrived earlier to have any chance at hearing the Bearded Screech Owl. We started out looking for owls with little luck, as it was already beginning to get light. Javier was an excellent guide and showed us a series of trails higher up that went through much better habitat than yesterday. He found us over six Blue and White Mockingbirds, a flock of Black-throated Jays and More Pink-headed Warblers, several flocks of Singing Quail and the first Buff-breasted flycatcher he had seen in the area. We birded until noon and then started our drive towards Chinkultic ruins about two and a half hours away. We showed up an hour before closing during a rain shower. The area produced several good birds in a short amount of time. One flowering tree produced Green-throated Mountain Gem and Azure-crowned Hummingbird. We looked for a sheartail but without luck. This is one of the places I wish we had more time. After the ruins closed we drove on to Lagos de Montebello for the night. We were approached at the entrance by a gentleman named Aberto who offered to show us around in the morning for 300 pesos. He also took us to a nice place to stay through the village of Tziscao and down to the lake. About this time the clouds open up and the rain really came down.
January 26 - By first light the rains had stopped and we were optimistic about finding birds. Our guide said he knew where we could find Quetzals, so we took him up on it. After some walking a short way up a very muddy trail he pointed out a tree and said this is where quetzals nested in the past. No effort was put into finding quetzals and we left. At this point he asked if we wanted to go swimming and rafting, and we soon found out he knew nothing about birds. I asked him to take us to areas that were still forested. His knowledge of the area did help us find a nice forested hill that required entering a farmers field through a gate, walking through a banana grove, across a fallen tree over a swollen creek and then into cloud forest. We did manage to pick up Plain Wren and Ruddy Crake on the walk. This area could be good at first light with less noise from the guide. Later he took us to some nice mixed pine forest where we ran into a huge mixed flock containing Azure-hooded Jays, Strong-billed Woodcreepers, and Yellow-backed Oriole. We had a long drive ahead of us through some uncertain areas so we terminated our tour at 11:00 am and started out for Frontera around the border road. I asked several people in Chiapas about the safety of the road and got the overall impression that it is safe during the day. The road immediately begins to drop after leaving the Lagos de Montebello area. We did run into six military checkpoints along the route, each friendly and curious about what we were doing. At several checkpoints they asked to see the id of the driver and at only one checkpoint were we asked us to get out of the vehicle so they could open the tailgate. At each checkpoint they wrote down our license plate and I believe informed the next checkpoint we were coming. I felt completely safe and this was some of the best pavement we had seen, except for the ever present washouts you see in south Mexico (another good reason not to drive at night- some are marked better than others). Randall picked up a Scaled Pigeon, the only one seen during the trip. We arrived at the river launch area of Frontera after about five hours of driving. We paid for camping and arranged for a boat to take us upriver at first light. Birding along the Usumacinta River produced several new trip birds including Lesser-Swallow-tailed Swift and Green-breasted Mango.
January 27 - First light had us at the rivers edge preparing to go downriver to Yaxchichlan accompanied by two Short-tailed Nighthawks. The trip downriver took us an hour and produced several new birds including Muscovy Duck and American Pygmy Kingfisher. We arrived at Yaxchichlan at 7:30 and were told by our boat captain that we had until noon to check out the area. The birding here was superb with new birds turning up every few minutes. Good birding areas were along the runway, the bamboo near the boat launch and the far ruins up the side trails. A short list of what I think are exciting birds includes Great, Slaty-breasted and Little Tinamou calling from every dense area. Lovely Cotinga, Blue Seedeater, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Smoky-brown Woodpecker, Sepia-capped Flycatcher, Common and Slate-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Royal flycatcher, Cinnamon Becard, Golden-hooded Tanager, Olive-backed Euphonia, Purple-crowned Fairy, Barred Antshrike, Dusky Antbird and Rufous Phia. The boat trip back upriver was fairly uneventful until an adult King Vulture made an extended visit circling above, and moments later a White Hawk crossed the river in front of us. After arrival in Frontera we purchased some gas from a roadside vender and were off to Lacanja and Bonompax. We found a nice place to stay near the river and decided to set up camp. After all the tents were set we set off further down a dirt road left from Lacanja. The rode side was cut over second growth that seemed very active. As we drove down the road a short distance a Ruddy Crake come out from the roadside and started to bath in a puddle no more than thirty feet in front of the car. We parked and started to walk down the road. A list of good birds included several Dot-winged Antwrens, Great Antshrike, Plain Antvireo, Barred Antshrike, Dusky Antbird, Long-billed Gnatwren, Yellow-bellied Tyrannulet, Bananaquit, Black-crested Coquette, and Yellow-tailed Oriole. After birding we met up with Michael Carmody of Legacy tours for dinner and picked his brain for information. On his recommendation we set up an early entrance into Bonampak with a gentleman named Margarito who lives near the entrance road. As we left to return to our tenting area a deluge began that reduced visibility to a few feet. Our tents didn’t seem to inviting so we rented a few rooms and slept inside.
January 28 - We met up with Margarito at 6:00am as planed for the 25 minute drive to the entrance. The ruins don’t open until 8:00am so we birded back down the road and up a small track of the left. Several good birds were found including a Tody Motmot, Rufous-breasted Spinetail, Thrushlike Mourner, Plain Xenops, and Dot-winged Antwren. Upon opening we split up and I went down a very small trail off the left of the base of the main ruin. Within five minutes of walking down the trial I had my first of four extended views of both Little and Slaty-breasted Tinamous. The trail was very overgrown flooded and full of spider webs, making me think it is not often used. I had a wonderful morning walking what I would guess 3km down the trail until it ran out near a small creek. One highlight was a fresh set of jaguar tracks in the middle of the trail. Good birds on the trail included Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher, Tody Motmot, Russet Antshrike, Slaty-tailed Trogon, Thrush-like Mourner, Rufous Mourner, Plain Antvireo, Eye-ringed flatbill, Tawny-crowned Greenlet, and Stub-tailed Spadebill. Upon meeting up with the rest of the group I learned of several other good sightings. John had a very large raptor fly across the runway and attempt to take a monkey out of tree he was standing near. The rest of the group found many of the same birds here including White-whiskered Puffbird, Red-capped Manakin, Nightingale Wren, Double-toothed Kite, Black-crested Coquette, Chestnut-colored Woodpecker, and Black-faced Grosbeak. We had arranged to be picked up at noon so we could start back to Palenque. A brief stop on the trails near the entrance produced many of the same birds including Buff-Throated Foliage-gleaner, Ruddy Quail-dove, and Plain Xenops. The drive to Palenque took about three hours with little birding to be had on the way.
January 29 - Early morning found us on the cross road to la Libertad. Birding was good and we picked up a few new trip birds but never located an Aplomado Falcon, our target bird. We decided to return to Balancan area to look for missed birds by early morning. We did pick up Grassland Yellow-finch, Grey-crowned yellowthroat, and Giant Cowbird but not much else that was new. The afternoon was spent driving towards Celestun. A total of five hours of driving only got us to a town called Hecelchakan where we found the only hotel in town and settled in.
January 30 - We knew we had several more hours of driving to Celustun so we set out at 4:00am. The map we were using showed several back roads through Lazaro Cardenas north to meet up with the main road to Celestun. The back roads did allow for good views of several nightjars including Yucatan Poorwill. We did need to ask directions once and traveled for 10 Km on a one lane potholed road but finally we made it to Celustun and our first American Flamingos of the trip by 7:00am. . We made a stop in the mangroves on the way into town and could hear Rufous-necked Wood-rails calling and spotted a nice Rufous ¨Cbrowed Peppershrike. We then put our attention into picking up a few last endemics just north of town. Without any effort we located several groups of Yucatan Wrens right off. The Yucatan Bobwhites could be heard calling in the scrub, but getting a good look was difficult for some of us. We did find several Mexican Sheartails but all were female and we wanted to see the male. We gave up after a few hours and headed back to town to pick up some waterbirds for our trip list. Nothing out of the usual was found. After lunch we started off for Chichen Itza. A bad turn put us in the Middle of Merida for a delay of a few hours, but we made it to the ruins with an hour before closing. We were after one bird, the Turquoise-browed Motmot. We all spit up and covered the outer edge of the ruins area, within 30 minutes John had found the first of two. This gave us 30 more minutes to actually look at the ruins we just paid 100 pesos each to see. It was another three hours on to Rio Lagartos. We checked in to the Hotel Villa de Pescadero and set up an early morning boat trip for the next day through the owner of the hotel.
January 31 - The owner and his wife also got up made us breakfast and brought it to our rooms before we set out. We met our two boats at 6:00 am, our guides knew we were out for birds and tried there best to help us find them. Tim, Mike and myself set of with our guide in search of a few target birds, one being the Boat-billed Heron. We did manage to find a few Bare-throated Tiger-herons, Mangrove Cuckoo, Mangrove Warbler and American Pygmy Kingfisher. It was apparent that we were not going to find our target bird on the water so our guide said he knew a place a few kilometers up the road. We tied up the boat by the bridge and started walking, after 30 minutes I asked how much farther and he said a few Kilometers. We were getting baked walking down the road at mid day without water so we hitched a ride. The driver dropped us of at a trial to a freshwater spring another 2 km down the trail, some 8 km from the river. We walked back to a beautiful seemingly birdless spring that did provide a nice swim. Still no target bird, so we climbed the tower next to the pond. The first thing we saw was a Crested Guan no more than 15 feet away. This was nice, but was it worth the effort? As we were about to leave I asked the guide what the big stick nest was from, ¡°oh it’s a Jabiru nest¡±. I thought he was kidding until you looked at the nest from the tower and could see a giant black head and bill. This was completely worth the effort and our guide didn’t seem to understand that it was an excellent bird we all wanted to see. After riding in the back of a dump truck 6 km to the boat, I realized what a nice unexpected experience we had. The captains dropped us off back at the dock and we went to have lunch. There was a bit of luck involved in meeting up with Ismael, a local birding guide. We told him we only had a few hours and wanted to see several birds we had missed. I showed him the list and he said we better get started, and he would only accept a tip if he found us birds. First stop right in town was a breeding colony of 20 Boat-billed Herons. He was very concerned about the birds and asked us to stay on the road to watch them. This was appreciated by all in our group, and since they were only 50 feet away we could see them fine. I now wonder if our boat guides knew of this spot? Next on the list was male Sheartail. Within a few minutes of parking we had our male Mexican Sheartail in a bush in front of us. The next stop was for the difficult to see Yucatan Bobwhite. He asked if we minded crossing a fence and we agreed. Within taking twenty steps we flushed a covey of four birds and got excellent views. All this with an hour to spare. The only other bird in the area I could think of that the group would like see was Zenaida Dove, no problem, Ishmael took us to them. The point is if your time is short in Rio Lagartos ask for Ismael Navarro, he will earn that tip. We were flying out the next day so we spent the next three hours driving to Puerto Morelos for the night.
February 1 - First light had us at the gate of the Dr. Alfredo M Barrera Botanical Gardens outside Puerto Moreles. A very friendly attendant answered our plea and let is in to bird, letting us pay when we left. The devastation from the recent hurricane was awesome, but the birding was good. Our target bird, Yucatan Vireo was seen several times throughout the morning. We also spotted several other good birds including Black Catbird, Yucatan Flycatcher, Bright-rumped Attila, and Turquoise-browed Motmot. We had a plane to catch so off the airport and back to Alaska.