After departing Cozumel, Caroline and I had a very singular goal in mind: escape the tourist zone as fast as possible. So far, our entire Mexico trip had been to areas where most people were either day visitors from passing cruise ships or tenants of nearby megahotels and resorts. We desired to get into the country, into the woods, and to visit places where the animals outnumbered the people.
Felipe Carillo Puerto was our first chance to do that. We arrived late in the afternoon, checked into our hotel. The next morning, we woke up early and drove out on the Camino Vigio Chico, one of the most well known birding localities in Quinata Roo.
Camino Vigio Chico, Quintana Roo
Our first morning of real lowland Mexican birding was amazing. While activity was not super high (as we would soon find out, many resident species were not singing/not very active during the height of the dry season), we still managed to find 50 species of bird. Many of the species were new for both of us, including a cooperative Royal Flycatcher Onychorhynchus coronatus Caroline spotted sitting above the road.
While overall activity was low, we were still treated to a host of fantastic neotropical birds, including Squirrel Cuckoo Piaya cayana, Wedge-tailed Sabrewing Campylopterus curvipennis, Collared Aracari Pteroglossus torquatus, and Red-crowned Ant-Tanager Habia rubica. Caroline was even luckier and happened to spot a flyover Pale-billed Woodpecker Campephilus guatemalensis while I was stalking understory birds.
From here, we made the long drive south to Campeche, where we spent the next three days exploring the Mayan ruins of the southern jungles and birding as much as we could. Unfortunately, the days we spent in the far south were hot and windy, so activity was lower than we would have expected. Regardless, we still had some amazing sights and some amazing birds. The ruins of Calakmul hosted families of Geoffroy's Spider Monkeys Ateles geoffroyi foraging in the tries and a long javalina lumbered past us in silence. Where we did have birds, we had quality experiences with Lineated Woodpecker Dryocopus lineatus, Eye-ringed Flatbill Rhynchocyclus brevirostris, and even had amazing views of a lone Ivory-billed Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus flavigaster.
In all, our time in southern Mexico passed too quickly, and we are all too eager to be able to spend time there again soon.
Zona Arqueológica El Hormiguero, Campeche, Mexico