Yucatan trip 3-16 april 2001

Subject: Yucatan trip 3-16 april 2001
From: Katarina Stenman <>
Date: Fri, 04 May 2001 00:30:07 +0200
Hi, friends and others

This is a very short trip report from the Yucatan peninsula, southern
Mexico. We were a group of 6 biologists from University of Umea, North
Sweden and at least 2 of us tried to do some serious birding along the road.

As the dry season is ending in May, many plants had dropped their leaves.
Reptiles and amphibians were not very active(result=one rather disappointed
herpetologist). The bird life was OK with many migrant species on their way
north to the US. During the 13 days of travel I managed to find 169 species
of birds,  3 different squirrels, a coati, a crocodile, a dead snake and
one tarantula. We had no problems with corrupt police, thieves or such as
warned for in Lonely Planets guide. The food was excellent and we had no
problem with that despite that we tried almost anything. Only the fried ray
was a bit rough for our taste!

Anyone interested in a bird list or information on anything related to this
trip please contact me privately 

Day 1 We used rental cars and started from Villahermosa in Tabasco. We were
able to include Palenque in north Chiapas.
day 2 Most people go to Palenque to see the fantastic Maya ruins. Generally
the archaeological sites are very good for birds. Keel-billed Toucans are
day 3 From there we travelled north to Merida. A long day and many km´s
along highways. Crested Caracaras (a falcon relative) and the everywhere
present vultures (black and turkey) soared above the road and the
surrounding marshy agricultural land.
day 4 Chitzen Itza, an another impressive ruin site. Turquoise-browed
Motmots highlighted the day. Did you know that the Mayas built up to 100 km
long "paved" roads? Then we drove to the coast and San Felipe.
day 5 San Felipe to Rio Lagartos. Flamingos are main attraction according
to the tourist brochures. They forgot to mention all the other interesting
species inhabiting the mangrove, sandbanks and dry shrub lands. Found
Yucatan Jay, Orange Oriole and Yucatan Bobwhite.
day 6 Boat trip to mangrove and sandbanks with a local "birdo". Our
reptilfreak finally saw a lifer, the Morelets Crocodile. The rest enjoyed
Black Skimmers, Boat billed Herons, Wilsons Plover and lots of other
species. 2 adult Yellow-footed Gulls sat on a sandbank, they were a long
way from their normal home in Baja California! Drove south to Coba.
day 7 Coba, more Maya ruins and the lake. An early morning walk resulted in
some nice photos of a Limpkin (a large whimbrel looking bird). Missed out
on the crakes that were supposed to be there. Drove south to Tulum.
day 8 Tulum - Xcalak, on the southeastern tip of Mexico. We rented a flat
and just relaxed. Unfortunately the very strong wind stopped us from doing
any boat trips or diving. Walking around the village and shrub land yielded
some nice birds like the Blue Grosbeak, Plain Chacalaca, Yucatan
Parrot  and Mangrove Vireo. Rarest sighting was a Rufous Wood-rail.
day 9 and 10 Xcalak.
day 11 Xcalak - Xpujil. Just a day of driving. It is not often you run into
a big petrol station that actually has run out of petrol! Another memory is
the cop that stopped us at one of the numerous checkpoints and did a very
big search for those drugs he decided that one of us had hidden in our car.
We were "released" when a busload of suspiciously looking people arrived.
day 12 Calakmul. Started early (5am) to go the ruin site and the large
protected area of forest in the south eastern part of Campeche. The best
site we visited during our trip but we had to rush through due to many km
to drive that day. To name a few nice sightings: Ocellated Turkey along the
quite rough road and Howler Monkeys at the ruins. Arrived in Palenque at 8
that night.
day 13 Managed to find 4 new species just by walking around Palenque that
last morning. Returned our rental cars at the airport in Villahermosa and
arrived back home the next evening.

Katarina Stenman

Tallvagen 47
SE-907 38 Umea

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