Photos with this report (click to enlarge)
I flew from Gatwick, with Thomsons on the new Dreamliner plane, leaving cold wet UK behind. The flight was smooth and event free, just how I like it. We arrived at Cancun airport in the early afternoon, the sun was shining and it was 26 degrees. Unfortunately due to other tardy passengers and a few drop-offs on the way to our hotel, we didn't arrive until sundown, which was a bit frustrating, as there were plenty of birds on route and I was itching to start photographing something.
I stayed at the Bahai Principe Akumal resort, which is part of a large complex consisting of four hotels and extensive grounds. There is even a Dolphinarium on site, although I hate the idea of these intelligent creatures being kept in captivity. The hotel group has a eco-friendly policy, which meant they maintained the natural habitat surrounding the hotels very well, allowing several species to flourish.
On my first evening stroll I was welcomed by a couple of Racoons and a Mexican Agouti who seemed oblivious to my presence. The birds had all retired and several bats took there place, no Vampires thankfully.
My room had a balcony surrounded by trees, as I had requested, with the hope of getting some close encounters with some of the residents. On the first morning I was delighted to see a Yucatan Jay, Altamira Oriole, Yucatan Woodpecker and a pair of White-faced Coatis in the trees very close to my balcony.
I spent the entire holiday in the hotel grounds as there seemed to be so much to see. The complex is busy with tourists but there are areas less populated and the birds don't seem to mind the noise. Most days were a mix of sunshine and showers, but three days were thunderstorms and torrential rain that halted proceedings a little. The birds seen every day were Hooded Orioles, Great-tailed Grackles, Yucatan Woodpeckers, Yucatan Jays, Orange Orioles, Tropical Kingbirds, Yellow-throated Warblers, Melodious Blackbirds, Tropical Mockingbirds and Great Kiskadees. The hotel complex has an extensive beach front, which gets very busy after eight in the morning, weather permitting, but before that, there are usually a few birds to be spotted. Most days I saw Brown Pelicans, Ruddy Turnstones, Sanderlings, Laughing Gulls and Magnificent Frigatebirds, flying overhead. On one morning there was a pair of Willet close by and a group of Royal Terns had settled on the jetty.
There were always a few Turkey Vultures and Black Vultures soaring above the grounds, occasionally landing on the hotel reception roof. The Coba hotel, one of the four on the complex had a few more species from time to time. Here I saw White-winged Doves, Plain Chachalaca, Yucatan Vireos, Yellow -fronted Euphonias, a beautiful Painted Bunting male, Social Flycatchers, a Cinnamon Hummingbird and a female Summer Tanager. There were several warblers in the shrubs, but none could easily be identified, apart from one Yellow Warbler. A fifth hotel in the same group is on the other side of a busy highway, and was not part of the AI package, it was possible to visit though, and there is a golf course on site. The water hazards attract some other species not seen in the rest of the complex, Great White and Snowy Egrets, Great Blue Herons and one Roseate Spoonbill. I didn't visit more than once as the course was busy from 7.30 onwards. When the days are longer and you can get an earlier start, I think the course could produce a lot more results.
As well as the birds there were plenty of butterflies, dragonflies, lizards, some huge Black Iguanas and other insects around the grounds, so if you can ignore the Tequila soaked sun-worshippers and the odd thunderstorm, it is a very rewarding place to visit. I would suggest pre-organising a couple of bird tours outside of the complex, as there is a lot more to see in the region. I was on my own and tours are a bit pricey for one person, but I will invest when I next visit this region.
Great White Egret
Great Blue Heron
Assorted warblers ,no IDs
2 other birds awaiting ID.