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Yucatán (México) - August 2018

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Old Tuesday 25th December 2018, 19:36   #1
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Yucatán (México) - August 2018


Last August I visited the Yucatan peninsula, formed by the state of Quintana Roo (which includes the most tourist areas of the peninsula) and Yucatan. It is an interesting trip, which combines a rich heritage with good opportunities for observing nature, birds in particular. In case anyone is interested, in my blog I have made several entries in which I explain a little the most interesting areas I visited. Here I include you a brief summary and some images.

1. Cozumel Island

Considered an authentic paradise by tourists arriving from all over the globe, the island of Cozumel surprises with its tropical and virgin nature, barely disturbed, and combines jungle areas, breathtaking mangroves, and stunning lagoons of intense colors, with beautiful beaches and a seabed crossed by an incredible coral barrier. This was the beginning of our trip through the Yucatan peninsula, in Mexico. We only stayed two nights in Cozumel, but it served as an excellent start to our trip in Mexico, in which we combined wildlife observation with cultural tourism.

2. East Coast of Quintana Roo south to Playa del Carmen (Sian Ka'an Reserve, Tulum, Akumal)

Following Cozumel, we moved to the area of ​​Akumal, within the Yucatan peninsula itself, where we spent 7 nights. Akumal is located on the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, between the towns of Tulum, to the south, and Playa del Carmen, to the north. It is the main tourist area of ​​the east coast, full of hotels and a variety of attractions. In this post I show the main visits and observations made south to Playa del Carmen, until the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve.

3. East coast of Quintana Roo north to Playa del Carmen (cenotes, reserva Toh)

We travelled from our accommodation in Akumal twice, to visit the road that runs between Puerto Morelos and Leona Vicario. This road is known as Ruta de los Cenotes. They can be opened, semi-opened or underground. Cenotes are water springs, surrounded by jungle and they were considered sacred places by the ancient Mayans. They are very fragile ecosystems because of the specialized fauna that inhabits them, but at the same time they are exploited. It is possible to carry out various activities, including swimming, snorkeling, diving, zip-lines, cycling, horseback riding, or excursions in quads, and obviously, also birding. In this area it appears the Reserva Toh, a a civil organization focused on environmental conservation activities. Reserva Toh is an ecotourism park that wellcomes birdwatchers, that covers more than 500 hectares of preserved jungle vegetation. It is located in the heart of the Mayan jungle of northern Quintana Roo. It has a wide diversity of natural resources, including flora, fauna, cenotes, caverns, etc. This visit was undoubtedly one of the best we made (along with Holbox, located north of the Yucatan) to observe birds. They offer guided tours specifically aimed at bird watching. Our tour lasted for about two hours, and allowed us to see a great variety of species, almost all new to me. The truth is that it was highly recommended.

4. Birding between ruins (Cobá, Chichén Itza, Cobá)

Our next destination was Mérida, already in the state of Yucatán. En route, and during the following days, we visited the main Mayan ruins existing in the Yucatan Peninsula (Cobá, Chichén Itzá and Uxmal), doing some birding in the jungle that surrounds them. Near Cobá there is an area known as Otoch Ma´ax Yetel Kooh, a protected natural area, with an extension of 5367.4 hectares, of which 408 correspond to undisturbed subperennifolia forest, 2941 hectares to subperennifolia forest under regeneration (between 30 and 50 years), 1676.7 hectares of secondary vegetation in different phases of recovery; 155 hectares correspond to milpa and 144 to bodies of water, in addition to 36 hectares of floodplain and 1.8 hectares of low floodplain forest. Otoch Ma'ax Yetel Kooh has a series of characteristics that justify its declaration as Wildlife Protected Area. There is a great biodiversity of species of animals and plants, as well as a great cultural richness. It is especially known because the two primate species that can be found in the Yucatan peninsula can be found here. This visit, which we did after Coba, was focused on the observation of both species, and the truth is that we pay little attention to birds, although, with a little more time I think it is a good place for it.

5. Holbox

Holbox is an island located in the north of the Yucatan Peninsula. It forms part of the Yum Balam Biosphere Reserve and it is separated from the mainland by the Yalahau lagoon, where diverse birds live, such as american flamingos and brown pelicans. The island waters are replete with marine flora and fauna, including sea turtles and whale sharks. The small village of Holbox is the complete opposite to the east coast of Quintana Roo. In a relaxed environment you can enjoy nature. Undoubtedly, one of the most interesting points of this trip, and with very good opportunities for ornithological observations.
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Antonio Rodriguez
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Old Wednesday 26th December 2018, 17:05   #2
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A note for you on taxonomy, I think at least a couple of the birds you have at Holbox as American Yellow Warbler, are now treated as Mangrove Warbler.
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Old Wednesday 26th December 2018, 22:45   #3
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Hola Antonio. Thanks for sharing your experiences at Yucatán. Nice photos.
Saludos, Fritz
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Old Wednesday 9th January 2019, 08:13   #4
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Originally Posted by andyadcock View Post
A note for you on taxonomy, I think at least a couple of the birds you have at Holbox as American Yellow Warbler, are now treated as Mangrove Warbler.
Thanks, Andy and Fritz, for your comments.
Andy: In fact, I was aware that there were some mangrove warblers in those pictures. However, I kept them as american yellow warbler, as I follow taxonomy published in the Handbook of the Birds of the World, published by Lynx Eds. According to them, mangrove warblers are a subspecies of Setophaga petechia (S. petechia erithachorides). It is possible that they will be splitted in the future.

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