Sunday 2 July 2023

Yucutan - Day 5 - Muyil and the coast


Our final day. Mick and I were again up fairly early as we needed to get down to Muyil which we had overshot the previous evening in returning to Tulum (where hotels are plentiful). It was only a 20 minute drive and we arrived at around 7.30am. As the ruins did not open for another half an hour we birded the village on the other side of the road, which was absolutely fantastic for some reason. When I say village it is not really much, a few lots carved into the jungle which meant we could bird the fringes. This paid dividends immediately with Rufous-browed PeppershrikeTawny-crowned Greenlet and Altamira Oriole in a large tree, along with two Squirrel Cuckoo and three Green Jay. A Purple Martin cruised overhead, and the village seemed to be full of Melodious Blackbird, Yucatan Jay and Groove-billed Ani. A weedy area around the side of some houses had feeding Blue Buntings. It was one of the best place we had birded on the trip so far, a really good start to the day. If you find yourself there, make sure you do both sides.

Ruddy Ground Dove

Melodious Blackbird

Tropical Mockingbird

Groove-billed Ani

Yucatan Jay

Crossing the road we paid the small entrance fee and started to explore the ruins. The best area is a fenced nature preserve on the east side, which has a boardwalk that leads through to the water on the other side. I think we ended up paying another small fee to access this but I am glad we did as it was teeming. American Warblers were particularly plentiful, with multiple Northern Waterthrush, Ovenbird and Common Yellowthroat. The best bird here, and probably our last roll of the dice for it, was Yucatan Vireo, an endemic that we had so-far missed. Quite high up we were not able to keep on it for long, but I did manage a photograph to clinch the ID. We also had good view of Ivory-billed Woodcreeper here.

Ivory-billed Woodcreeper

Yucatan Vireo

We continued along this boardwalk for some time, the number of birds made progress very slow! Wood Thrush, Green-backed Sparrow, a Summer Tanager and lots of Red-throated Ant-Tanager. We didn't climb the observation tower as it looked a bit lethal. Back in the ruins we added Palm Warbler and Indigo Bunting feeding in the short grass. The full list is here, probably our best single location away from Calakmul.

We grabbed some lunch from a stall directly opposite the ruins - I had some chicken. Whatever you do, don't eat from here. Maybe I was unluckly, but as soon as I got home I had the most terrible food poisoning for a week or so which was the precursor to a frankly shitty spring with one thing after another. I mean it may not have been this exact stall, it could even have come from the airport or the plane, but whatever it was weakened me sufficiently that my intenstines were in poor shape for about two months, and somewhere along the way I managed to catch COVID again as well. By the time May came around I was convinced I was dying and went to see a specialist who convinced me I was not, but in a very invasive way. Do many trip reports contain colonoscopys? Probably not.

Back on the road again we headed north for Cancun, hoping to bird along the coast. Fat chance, there are almost no places which are not private, gated, fenced off. One place you can get to the sea is teh Akumal Trail, at a place called Playa Free Tortugas. You can park near the blocks of flats and walk between them to a rocky peninsula. This had Grey and Wilson's Plover, a Whimbrel, a small group of Least Sandpiper as well as Laughing Gull, Brown Pelican and Frigatebirds.

Least Sandpiper

We continued to Cancun to try a spot just to the east of the airport that had seemed promising from eBird, Punta Nizuc. We must have hit it at a bad time as it was distinctly unpromising, with a load of
Frigatebirds and a single Anhinga for our troubles. With the traffic extremely busy we called it a day, filled up with fuel, and fought our way to Cancun airport. In five days had seen 167 species, of which 30 were lifers and a fair few of those Yucatan endemics. I cannot recommend it highly enough, but this is on the understanding that although you might start in Cancun you really have to get some distance away from it before things get good.