Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is not only famous for its Mayan ruins, warm climate, and delicious cuisine, but is also internationally recognised for its spectacular bird watching, boasting a vast assortment of resident and migratory bird species.
The Mayan ruins in Muyil for example, are renowned as one of the earliest and longest inhabited ancient Mayan sites on the eastern coast of the Peninsula. Travelers can journey across the lagoons of the area by boat, by kayak or float down the many canals that crisscross the adjacent wetlands, with local Mayan guides, and admire the many species of birds, reptiles and mammals that live in and around the site.
Located on the eastern shores of the Caribbean coastline, the archaeological site of Tulum is a pre-columbian Mayan city that is also very popular amongst those who visit the region. Although the bird populations here are not as plentiful the site does offer captivating views that serve as an unbeatably beautiful backdrop to stunning photographic opportunities not to be found elsewhere. For birders who are used to early morning starts, this is definitely a rewarding visit.
Sian Ka’an, situated two hours south of Cancun near the town of Tulum, is one of the region’s premier birding destinations. A federally protected biosphere reserve, this vast area acts as a haven for remarkable amounts of flora, fauna and distinct ecosystems. The sanctuary accommodates many endemic wonders, such as the Yucatan Woodpecker and the Yellow Fronted Parrot, species that are mostly found in clearings near the edges of dry woodland and in the numerous coastal scrubs.
On of the most interesting places to see in the reserve is “Bird Island”, located in the lagoon of San Miguel, and accessible via motor boats that depart from the Cesiak pier. Species such as White Ibis, Pelicans, Herons and Frigates are only some of the many species of water bird found in the area. Migrant birds are also a big draw during the months of December through February as they arrive to the region, and this island in particular, due to perfect nesting weather conditions.
All safely accessible, together with an interesting mix of tropical climate, limestone supported terrain and a variety of coastal and inland ecosystems, the Riviera Maya offers a wonderful birding experience that will lead to a reluctant goodbye and an intense enthusiasm to return.