Saturday, 18 March 2017

Bird watching in the Yucatan - last 2 sessions at Puerto Morelos

I did have another stroll around my hotel patch the after the visit to the botanical gardens and the next morning prior to our drive to Chichen Itza. It's ironic that after having spent several hours trying to photograph Green Jays in the botanical gardens I found a group in the hotel car park - right by our parked car- though the back-drop (a green fence) left a little to be desired.
Of the new species found the yellow-rumped warbler (myrtle warbler) was particularly difficult to id. Overall my efforts around the hotel and at the botanical gardens had delivered 51 species.

Yellow warbler

Cinnamon hummingbird

Yellow-rumped warbler

Ruddy ground dove

Green Jay

Rufous browed peppershrike


Before I close on the Puerto Morelos leg of our journey I'd like to say a few words about one of the woodpeckers seen on this trip. There are 2 woodpeckers in the Yucatan which look quite similar, the local version of the golden fronted woodpecker and the smaller endemic (and hence much sought after) Yucatan woodpecker. I saw and photographed dozens of this type of woodpecker during our trip and although I still have a lot of shots to check to me I was only seeing one species -golden fronted; nothing looked like the Yucatan as depicted in my field guide.  I then had a look at some shots on the internet which didn't help - a lot of shots had the bird I was seeing labelled as Yucatan. The upshot was I took loads of shots of woodpecker just in case.
Since getting back I've spent a lot of time on the internet studying photographs of the "Yucatan Woodpecker"  and it's clear a lot of them have been miss identified -they are in fact golden fronted woodpeckers (some by quite famous photographers). The yucatan is clearly different.
For reference the Yucatan woodpecker is by far the smaller ( 17cm vs 25 cm) has a smaller beak in relation to it's size, has broader white bands on it's back and has yellow nasal tufts that surround the beak..
Here's the best shot I managed at Puerto Morelos of the golden fronted and it clearly shows the relatively long beak, thin white bands on it's back and red nasal tufts. A lot more shots were obtained during the next phase of the trip so more will be posted.

Golden fronted woodpecker


Around midday we set of for Chichen Itza, a 120 mile drive that took about 2.5 hrs on largely empty roads though you have to watch out for Topes. These are huge speed bumps, often un-marked, that are there to slow you down as you approach a junction or town. They even exist on the main highways when it passes a junction so you are never safe.

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