Mexico 2013

I went to Mexico on the 13th of January for 2 weeks and stayed at the sandos caracol beach Eco resort and spa in the Riviera Maya part of Mexico just outside Playa Del Carmen the hotel is built for nature lovers and is built amongst jungle with mangroves and lagoons spread throughout the grounds so the nature is right on top of you. This report shows what bird life and other wildlife that i witnessed during my stay including hotel grounds, beach, mangroves, golf course and Rio lagartos which is a reserve north of Cancun in the gulf of Mexico, finishing off with Ek Balam the newest Mayan Ruin

 Rope bridge over one of lagoon's in hotel grounds

Turtles in the lagoons of the hotel

This Black headed saltator was seen twice during my stay and is very difficult to spot when it's
 got its back facing you but like many birds in Mexico is very vocal so helps to locate it

These are Yucatan jays the top image is an adult bird and the bottom is that of a juvenile ( note the yellow bill and eye ring) these birds were always in small flocks and seen regular flying through the grounds trees making a racket of noise in the process

Some of the common birds seen in the hotel grounds

Great tailed grackle
Groove billed Ani
White winged dove

Melodious Blackbird

The hotel also had other wildlife


Malachite Siproeta stelenes


The Zebra Longwing or Zebra Heliconian (Heliconius charithonia)

Mexican Spider Monkey

White Peacock Anartia jatrophae


White tailed deer

The Beach produced some nice birds that were quite approachable

 The Beach

Brown pelican these birds can be seen every day along the beach

Osprey there were 2 different birds fishing along the beach front hovering and diving into the water very close to the shore giving superb views and stayed there for the 2 weeks i was there.

This Grey plover (black bellied plover) was feeding on the quiet part of the beach between the hotels with a small flock of sanderling below.


This Laughing gull below was one of many seen along the beach every day

In amongst the laughing gulls was a Royal tern that would rest between fishing

Royal Tern

Along the beach there is scrub land between the hotels where you can see species like:

This Painted Bunting showed just the once during my stay.
I visited the area on two more occasions but was unable to
locate the bird again

 Indigo Bunting another colourful bunting that can be seen feeding along the ground and flying up onto low bushes and small trees.

Blue-Black GrassQuilt this bird can be seen in amongst the grass and scrub in most area's also seen was a male Yellow Faced GrassQuilt but was unable to photograph it.

 Blue Grosbeak these birds were on the perimeter of hotel grounds

 The name say's it all the Magnificent Frigate bird this bird above is a male and image below is that of a female, these birds were a common sight along the beach sometimes gliding down quite low giving breath taking views

Ruddy Turnstone only occasional bird along the beach

Two common vulture's present were:

Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
These birds look similar in flight but can be separated by their wing pattern below the turkey vulture as you can see has a 2 tone wing pattern. The black vulture's under wing is all black with a white patch on the ends of either wing.

Northern mockingbird these birds were every where

There were two large mangroves near the hotel, one was just outside the entrance and another about 3/4 mile down the beach, you may have to disturb some birds to get near the mud where all the wader's and heron's are, but don't worry if you find a nice seat out of view they soon fly back in and a bit of patience you will  get rewarded. Here are the birds that were in the mangroves.

Ibis and Egret's in mangroves
Anhinga this bird was perched some distance away. A couple of sightings of these mainly in flight

Black necked stilt the mangroves was the only place to see this bird a dozen birds in total

Snowy Egret

Cinnamon Hummingbird this one was a real treat and unexpected, right place right time, the only other sightings of hummingbird were shadows whizzing past so to get this shot was very pleasing.

Great white Egret quite a common bird that can be seen in these mangroves and also flying over hotel and beach mostly at first light.

Another distant shot of what i think is a Mangrove Cuckoo

This photo of Green Heron was taken next to one of the lagoons in the hotel grounds, but also many at the mangroves.

Great Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron above image is an adult below is a juvenile bird

Little and large a good comparison shot of a Least sandpiper  and Greater yellow legs
Least sandpiper

Tri-coloured Heron

Yellow crowned night Heron this was the only sighting of this juvenile bird

Common Yellow throat

White Ibis  adult bird above imm below

Stilt Sandpiper (middle) Dowitcher (right) had to tell if its long billed or short billed
Stilt sandpiper

Blue winged Teal a common sight in the mangroves

Kildeer these birds were on open rocky ground where the hotels end 30+ birds present also 1 bird seen at the near by golf course and a couple of birds feeding on the mud in the mangroves

Lesser Yellowlegs common sighting

Squirrel Cuckoo quite a large bird but don't be fooled very difficult to see. Like's to hide away in small bushes very low to ground seen on two other occasion's with just a glimpse before i could actually see what it was, stunning bird.

Record shot of American Moorhen difficult to photograph through the reed beds.

Golf course was just a short walk from the hotel main gates well worth the walk best time i found was in the morning before the temperature got to hot, bird movement seemed a lot quieter in the afternoon.

This golf course was very large with large ponds

American Coot there was 2 birds present on the nearest pond

Golden Fronted Woodpecker very common you can see this bird almost every where

Three flycatcher's species below that look very similar in colour were all present at the golf course and surrounding area

Boat Billed Flycatcher this bird is the biggest of the 3 note heavy bill, lacks the rufous wing and tail.

Also note the lack of thin yellow stripe in black patch on top of the head that great kiskadee has

 Great kiskadee image above shows the rufous on the wings and tail and also the yellow on the crown that lacks on boat billed flycatcher, this bird is slightly smaller than the boat billed flycatcher but is larger and bulkier than the social flycatcher

 Social Flycatcher the smallest of the 3 note small bill

Other Flycatcher's present:

Tropical King bird

Western King bird

The Golf Course was a good place to catch up on your warbler's where there's lots of trees and bushes out in the open helping you to locate and id them, since i was last there in 2006 soon after hurricane Wilma i couldn't believe how much everything has grown making birding very difficult if you walking among the dense jungle

Yellow Warbler  just 3 sightings

Yellow Throated Warbler quite a few sightings at various sights loves the palm trees

Yellow Rumped Warbler the golf course was the only place where i could find this bird fluttering low amongst the small bushes next to the large pool

Yacatan Vireo this bird was seen on 3 occasions in different locations-golf course, hotel & roadside

 Plain chachalaca again these birds can turn up anywhere seen on a few occasion's

Summer Tanager
seen on two occasion's

White eyed vireo
can be seen in most places including hotel grounds

            Red billed Pigeon         

 Aztec Parakeet very noisy in flight the golf course was a good place to see these birds, although they were in hotel grounds, they were difficult to see .

Spotted Sandpiper regular visitor to the pond in golf course.

Double Crested Cormorant

Green Jay these two birds appeared on my last day very shy birds in scrub between golf course and road

Oriole species were seen all over the area, some birds were very tricky to id because there were a lot of juvenile birds present here are some of the oriole's i managed to photograph
     Altamira Oriole

             Yellow Backed oriole

Yellow Tailed Oriole

Orange Oriole

Hooded Oriole

Streak Backed Oriole

Good place to go if you want to add birds to your list this nature reserve got it all, they do bird tours from the little fishing village, but my visit was part of a package tour so even though i added more birds to my list i could have had a lot more if i had booked just a birdwatching trip, Rio largartos is a 3hr drive from playa del carmen; here are the birds that i managed to get.

Greater Flamingo the flamingo's are born white in colour, they get their colour from shrimps that they feed on as their main food source.

The river is only about 5 feet deep which is home to more than just shrimps


The Speed boat that takes you up the river to the salt lakes

Rio Largartos fishing village here is where you can book your birding trips from

Belted Kingfisher

 Forster's Tern

Black Skimmer

Caspian Tern

Double crested cormorant

Common Black Hawk  adult above and juvenile below

Neotropic Cormorant

Snowy Egret & White Ibis

Western Sandpiper  with the larger Sanderling

White Pelican

Wood Stork

 Lesser Yellow legs

Least Sandpiper

Western  Sandpiper
also bare throated tiger heron seen but not photographed

EK BALAM this site is the newest find of the mayan ruin's, one of which you can still climb up here are some photo's of the site and some of the birds that were seen there.

A view of the ek balam from below

Balam meaning jaguar and here is the sculpture of jaguar's mouth

Views from the top

Black Throated Green Warbler

Grey Hawk

Magnolia warbler

Northern Parula

Northern Beardless tyrannulet

Rose throated Becard?

also a motmot species seen but it flew off before i could get my bins on it