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John Versus the REAL Birders

MEXICO | Friday, 20 August 2021 | Views [50]

Sunrise on the wetlands, Progresso

Sunrise on the wetlands, Progresso

THE NEARER WE—AND HURRICANE GRACE—got to Merida, the nastier the weather became. It was touch-and-go for a while with heavy rain and tree branches strewn across the road but they were waiting for us at Hotel Meson de Luna. The elevator was out but the electricity and internet were working. With the wind and rain buffeting the outside stairways, the bellman took us up a service stairway just like the Secret Service escorting the president past the press. Our room is large and comfortable with a fridge, the first time south of the border.


           Hurricane Grace welcomes us to Merida

By Friday morning Grace was history and we set out before sunrise. Real birders study field markings, memorize vocalizations and create check-lists. I, on the other hand, am attracted to bright, shiny objects. So while our first stop at a mangrove wetlands near Progresso was a bust for Eric and Connie—neither the Yucatan Gnatcatcher or Mexican Sheartail was seen or heard—John was in hog heaven. The rising sun reflecting off the water and hundreds of pink flamingos wading in cadence reminded me of mornings at Sanibel Island, Florida.


                March of the Flamingos

Our next stop was more to the liking of the “real birders,” despite the fact that John first spotted the Gnatcatcher. We got wonderful photos of both male and female Yucatan Gnatcatchers. 


                  Yucatan Gnatcatcher

Farher along on a bumpy dirt road between neglected fields with a lot of coaxing, Eric managed to call in a Black-throated Bob White for more great photos.


                  Black-throated Bob White

After lunch we headed towards Rio Largatos on the Yucatan coast, checking out likely looking ponds for the Ruddy Crake and Spotted Rail. The Rail finally replied to our calls then made a too-brief appearance before exiting beneath the water hyacinths, stage right, never stopping for a photo. The others claimed to hear the Crake but I can neither confirm nor deny.


             Yucatan Wren

We really had to work hard for the final two species of the day, Yucatan Wren and Mexican Sheartail. And once again it was the guy who is attracted to bright, shiny objects who first spotted the wren.


           Waiting for the Mexican Sheartail at Ria MayaNothing Daunts REAL Birders            

There is little a “real” birder won’t do to find a new species—endure hurricanes, brave leeches and mosquitos, climb mountiains—so I joined in and “forced” myself to nurse a Tecate while watching for the Mexican Sheartail at hummingbird feeders at Ria Maya—hardly a sacrifice in the 100° heat. 


               Mexican Sheartail. ¿Worth waiting for?

When we finally found the little hummingbird back in the brush near where we saw the Wren, we still had an hour-and-a-half drive to Hotel La Aurora in the Colonial city of Valladolid.


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