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THE YUCATAN PENINSULA

Wednesday 24th February - Sunday 6th March 2016

MARK VAN BEIRS

Occellated Turkey is invariably the bird of the trip on this itinerary and this one made a special effort to secure this award (Mark Van Beirs).

Occellated Turkey is invariably the bird of the trip on this itinerary and this one made a special effort to secure this award (Mark Van Beirs).

A totally crazy, thoroughly unafraid male Ocellated Turkey, brimming with testosterone, was the undisputed bird of the tour. This spectacular species is easily seen along the entrance road to the magnificent archaeological site of Calakmul, but this year’s performance was really out of this world. The agressive male attacked us repeatedly and hit your leader on several occasions with his strong wings, luckily not with his dangerous looking spurs! He also demonstrated his extravagant display and stunning plumage at point blank range and made us flee a few times into the minibus. Other highlights included Thicket Tinamou (for some), Great Curassow, Yucatan Bobwhite, American Flamingo, Boat-billed Heron, American White Pelican, dainty Ruddy Crakes, Clapper Rail, Kelp Gull, a tame Parasitic Jaeger (Arctic Skua), White-crowned Pigeon, a very well-behaved Middle American Screech Owl, Northern Potoo, a dazzlingly displaying male Mexican Sheartail, Turquoise-browed Motmot, Yucatan Woodpecker, Pale-billed Woodpecker, Mayan Antthrush, Black Catbird, Western Spindalis, Rose-throated Tanager, Grey-throated Chat and Blue Bunting. We found a couple of raiding ant swarms with beautifully showing Tawny-winged, Ruddy and Northern Barred Woodcreepers, Yucatan Jays, Yellow-billed Cacique, Green-backed Sparrows, Red-throated Ant Tanagers and Grey-headed Tanagers. A good selection of wintering North American birds included crackers like Worm-eating, Blue-winged, Hooded, Black-throated Blue and Yellow-throated Warblers and Indigo and Painted Buntings. Mammals usually don’t feature too highly on Mexico tours, but we did manage to collect a nice selection, including Tayra, White-nosed Coati, Cozumel Raccoon, Central American Spider Monkey and Yucatan Black Howler Monkey. The spectacle of hundreds of thousands of bats darkening the sky near our Calakmul hotel was a sight to behold. Sadly, the weather didn’t cooperate at all as we experienced a cold front and rain during a good part of the tour resulting in less responsive birds, fewer birds of prey and no concentrations of waterbirds or waders.

Yucatan Jay is another cracking bird that looks like it has been coloured in by a child (Mark Van Beirs).

Yucatan Jay is another cracking bird that looks like it has been coloured in by a child (Mark Van Beirs).