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Yucatan Peninsula and Cozumel

25 January–8 February 2020

This new tour will take us to the Yucatan Peninsula where half of Mexico’s bird list has been recorded. Many of the 200+ regional endemics are found on the Yucatan in habitats ranging from rainforest in the south to arid coastal scrub along the north coast. Our itinerary will take us to a selection of the best birding habitats and will have the added attractions of a visit to the island of Cozumel and birding around some of the most spectacular Mayan ruins found in the Yucatan.

Day 1 Following our arrival in Cancun, we transfer to a hotel for an overnight stay in the city.

Day 2 Leaving Cancun after an early breakfast, we will look for birds in Central Vallarta and Cenote Road in Puerto Morelos. A number of outstanding birds are found here including Yellow-lored Parrot, Ferruginous Pygmy-owl, Yucatan Nightjar, Wedge-tailed Sabrewing, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Lesson’s Motmot, Yucatan Woodpecker, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Black-headed Trogon, Barred Antshrike, Stub-tailed Spadebill, Tropical Pewee, Yucatan Flycatcher, Rose-throated Becard, Yellow-throated Vireo, Green Jay, Spot-breasted Wren, Black-and-white Warbler, Masked Tityra, Collared Trogon, Northern Rough-winged Swallow (ridgwayi) and White-winged Tanager. After lunch in Puerto Morelos we continue on to the Rio Lagartos area where we will spend the night.

Day 3 We will spend the morning birding at Rio Lagartos, San Salvador Ranch, where we will look for a wide variety of wetland species at this important site consisting of coastal lagoons, mangrove swamps and dune scrub. Our visit will include a boat trip through the mangroves. After our lunch, we continue on to the world-famous Mayan ruins of Ek-Balam and Chichén Itzá in search of forest birds. Birds seen today may include American Flamingo, Black-bellied Whistling-duck, Least Grebe, American White Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, Bare-throated Tiger-heron, Great Blue, Green and Boat-billed Herons, White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Purple Gallinule, Wilson’s and Semipalmated Plovers, Black-necked Stilt, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Spotted and Solitary Sandpipers, Laughing Gull, Royal Tern, Black Skimmer, Mangrove Cuckoo, Snail Kite, Zone-tailed Hawk, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Black-throated Bobwhite, Zenaida Dove, Lesser Roadrunner, Mexican Sheartail, American Pygmy Kingfisher, Yucatan Wren and Blue-black Grassquit. Overnight in Valladolid.

Day 4 We return early morning to the Chichén Itzá ruins to continue searching the forest for any birds we might have missed yesterday. After lunch we will continue westwards to our next important Mayan site at Uxmal and its surrounding forest. Birds here include Collared Forest-falcon, Olive-throated Parakeet, White-tipped Dove, Common Ground-dove, Barn Owl, Lesser and Common Nighthawks, Cinnamon Hummingbird, Turquoise-browed Motmot, Ivory-billed Woodcreeper, Pale-billed Woodpecker, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Orange and Black-cowled Orioles, Tropical and Couch's Kingbirds, Grey Catbird, Northern Parula, Magnolia and Yellow-throated Warblers, American Redstart and Ovenbird. Overnight in Uxmal.

Day 5 We start birding early again by returning to the Uxmal ruins before continuing, after lunch, to Calakmul. Calakmul is the largest and one of the most important of the Mayan sites, which now stands surrounded by pristine forest, deep in the jungle close to the Guatemalan border. We should add more forest birds today including White-fronted Parrot, Golden-olive Woodpecker, Bright-rumped Attila, Boat-billed, Least and Social Flycatchers, Brown and Yucatan Jays, Altamira Oriole, Bronzed Cowbird, Great-tailed Grackle, Melodious Blackbird, Hooded Warbler, White-eyed Vireo, Ruby-throated Hummingbird and Vaux's Swift. We stay in Campeche for the next four nights from where we can explore the area.

Day 6 Today we will visit the Edzna Mayan ruins before continuing after lunch to Chicanna. Birds that can be found in these areas include Thicket Tinamou, King Vulture, Crested Guan, Great Curassow, Ocellated Turkey, Bat Falcon, White-crowned Parrot, Middle American Screech-owl, Keel-billed Toucan, Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Tawny-winged Woodcreeper, Eye-ringed Flatbill and White-bellied Wren.

Day 7 Hormiguero is a new destination today where we will look for Great Kiskadee, Grey-collared Becard, Short-billed Pigeon, White-winged Dove, Blue Ground-dove, Ruddy Quail-dove, Brown-hooded, Mealy and Red-lored Parrots, Squirrel and Striped Cuckoos, Groove-billed Ani, Mottled Owl, Northern Potoo, Stripe-throated Hermit, Green-breasted Mango and Canivet's Emerald. After lunch we will return to Calakmul for some afternoon birding.

Day 8 Our final day will be spent revisiting Calakmul to look for any birds we may have previously missed whilst Barred Forest-falcon, Orange-breasted and Peregrine Falcons, Northern Jacana, Pale-vented and Red-billed Pigeons, Grey-headed and Plumbeous Kites and Black-and-white and Ornate Hawk-eagles may be new.

Day 9 Leaving Campeche today we will start with an early visit to the Caobas reserve followed by a stop at the Kohunlich archaeological site. After lunch, we continue on to Felipe Carrillo Puerto, where we stay overnight. Birds we will look for include Grey-necked Wood-rail, Black-faced (Mayan) Antthrush, Tawny-crowned Greenlet, Cattle Egret, Ruddy Ground-dove, Pheasant Cuckoo, Smoky-brown and Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, Plain Antvireo, Northern Beardless-tyrannulet, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher and (Northern) Royal Flycatcher. Overnight Carillo Puerto.

Day 10 We start birding early today around Felipe Carrillo Puerto before travelling along the Vigia Chico route inside Sian Ka'an reserve. Birds we will search for include Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Collared Aracari, Greenish Elaenia, White-breasted Wood-wren, Long-billed Gnatwren, Grey-headed Tanager, Green-backed Sparrow, Scrub Euphonia, Yellow-billed Cacique, Hooded and Orchard Orioles, Black-headed and Greyish Saltators, Blue-black Grassquit, Red-throated Ant-tanager and Grey-throated and Yellow-breasted Chats. Leaving the Sian Ka'an reserve, we head to nearby Tulum for an overnight stop.

Day 11 We head back into the Sian Ka'an reserve this morning, birding around the Muyil jungle. Further new birds may include Laughing Falcon, Plain Chachalaca, Great Egret, Little Blue Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-heron, Lesser Scaup and Ruddy Woodcreeper. Leaving the reserve, we now head over to the island of Cozumel, where we stay for the night.

Day 12 The ‘exotic tourist paradise’ of Cozumel has mixture of habitats including coastal beaches, lagoons, mangroves and woodland. Sadly, much of the island has been destroyed by the amount of tourist development but we are here for the two remaining extant Cozumel Island endemics species of Cozumel Emerald and Cozumel Vireo together with the (beani sub-species of House (Cozumel) Wren. The last sighting of Cozumel Thrasher was around 2004 and is now assumed to be extinct. Other species we will look for here include White-crowned Pigeon, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Caribbean Dove, Caribbean Elaenia, Western Spindalis, Roadside Hawk, Black Catbird, Yucatan Vireo, Indigo Bunting, Yellow-faced Grassquit, Bananaquit, Golden-crowned, Palm, Prairie Warbler and Black-throated Green Warblers and Blue-grey Gnatcatcher before returning later in the day to the mainland, overnight in Tulum again.

Day 13 Our final day’s birding will take us to the Coba ruins before finally making our way back to Cancun for our final night of the tour. Here we can find Pinnated Bittern, Spotted Rail, Limpkin, Ruddy Crake, Grey-headed Dove, Ringed Kingfisher, Lineated Woodpecker, Northern Barred-woodcreeper, Yellow-winged Tanager and Chestnut-sided, Swainson’s, Wilson’s and Worm-eating Warblers so we won’t be short of new birds to look for even at this late stage of the tour. Overnight in Cancun.

Day 14 Depending on flight times, we may have some time for birding in the morning before returning to Cancun airport for our overnight flight back to London arriving on Day 15.

General Information The climate at this time of the year is generally warm to hot. Although the weather can regularly be quite overcast, rain is infrequent at this season although it will be fairly humid at times. Days out in the field start early but walking on the tour will generally be at an easy pace. The pace of the tour is moderate, with a moderate level of fitness required for walking. There are a number of health requirements and you must consult your GP in this respect. Visas are not required unless we are transiting the USA. Accommodation will be mostly in medium-standard hotels with private facilities.

Group Size Minimum number for tour to go ahead: 8 with 1 leader; 15 with 2 leaders.

Cozumel Vireo

Cozumel Vireo

Recommended books available from NHBS