Sunday, 4 November 2012

Ria Lagartos - shear magic

No sooner had we checked into the hotel, gone up to the room and stepped out onto the balcony when the words "Meester White?" came from down below. "Yes, how did you know we had arrived?" I replied.  "This is a very small place and you are the only gringos in town". We had arrived in Rio Lagartos, at the northern end of the Yucatan peninsula and entrance town to the Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve.

We had booked a couple of days to be guided by the excellent Diego Nunez around Ria Lagartos The first day by boat amongst the creeks and mangroves, the second on land amongst the scrubby transition zones.  The reserve holds large numbers of waterbirds as well as Yucatan specialities such as Mexican Sheartail and Yucatan Wren.   The boat took us through mudflat channels, mangrove creeks and out to the sea.  Waders whirled around in numbers; Willet, Yellowlegs, Semi-p, Western and Least Sandpipers, Long-billed Curlew and Short-billed Dowitcher.  Black Skimmers, Roseate Spoonbill, Belted Kingfisher, Lineated Woodpecker, Wood Stork and hundreds of herons added to the mix.  Diego attracted a Black Hawk close to the boat by throwing out fish and whistling up a Ferruginous Pygmy Owl lured out a Blue-crowned Motmot.

The early morning ‘bush-bash’ produced five species of hummers, with excellent views of Mexican Sheartail and two nests found.  Diego 'called in' a Laughing Falcon, with the cameras rat tat tat-ting away.  Lesser Roadrunner, Vermillion Flycatcher, Squirrel Cuckoo and Yucatan Bobwhite all gave excellent views.  With stomachs rumbling, the freshly caught Lobster, cooked by Diego's wife, was washed down by a few bottles of Sol.  With not a single all-inclusive buffet bar in sight, this was a simple pleasure.  Jabiru and Crested Caracara drifting over as we left was a perfect ending.
Above; Mexican Sheartail, Skimmers and others.
Below: Black Hawk, Yucatan Wren, Laughing Falcon and elsewhere, a Cozumel Island Racoon.