Global Big Day May 8th 2021!
Global Big Day 2021!
Global Big Day 2021 was scheduled for May 8th and our team was more than ready to go birding and contribute to the knowledge of birds!
So we left the city of Merida as early as possible and drove northeast, we made stops at some promising sites along the road, but our main goal was to reach the towns of El Cuyo, Colonia Yucatan and the "El Zapotal" reserve.
First stop, a White-tailed Hawk perched above an electricity post. As we continued driving we gpt to the town of Kikil, so we headed to the "Cenote" and looked for a Bat Falcon who lives there, we found it and it was eating a bat! We also got our first Turquoise-browed Motmot, Ruddy-ground Dove and Olive Sparrow.
We kept driving and a perched Gray Hawk made us stop the car, this was an immature hawk molting to it's adult plumage, and here we also saw Groove-billed Ani, Yucatan and Ladder Backed Woodpeckers, Mangrove and Yellow-green Vireos, Cinnamon Hummingbird and Rufous-browed Peppershrike.
Immature Gray Hawk perched above an electricity post.
As we were getting close to a town called "Dzonot Carretero", we saw three dark colored raptors soaring in the sky, so we stopped the car again and looked up, white tail bands, red legs and eyes, Crane Hawks being chased by some very brave Tropical Kingbirds! And those birds were not the only ones enjoying the blue sky, we also saw some Vaux's Swifts, Barn Swallows and a Turkey Vulture, then, we heard some soft calling inside of a fruiting tree next to the road, two Yellow winged Tanagers sharing the tree with a Squirrel Cuckoo.
A Crane Hawk soaring in the sky.
After something like a half an hour drive (with four or five of stops at waterbodies with a few birds) we arrived to a small swamp known for having a Spotted Rail living there. We spent a little more than half an hour there, and got 26 bird species including: Spotted Rail, Common Gallinule, Purple Gallinule, Limpkin, Northern Jacana, Vermillion Flycatcher and Yellow-tailed Oriole.
Spotted Rail at the Canamui Swamp.
We continued driving until we arrived to another swamp, a really big one near "El Cuyo" town, unfortunately there were not many birds, but we managed to get some good ones like Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Neotropic Cormorant, Northern Cardinal, Morelet's Seedeater, Hooded Oriole and a Laughing Falcon.
Laughing Falcon perched on a dead tree at the Canimuk swamp.
After that, we arrived in "El Cuyo" town, just before getting inside the town, we saw a group of around 60 American Flamingos, some Laughing Gulls, Gull-billed and Royal Tern, Brown Pelican, Reddish Egret and a group of around 400 Magnificent Frigatebirds. Then inside town we got Common Tody-Flycatcher, Bronzed Cowbird and Double-crested Cormorant.
We went to the beach just before we left town, we added Zenaida Dove, Sandwich Tern and Common Black Hawk to the list.
Zenaida Dove at the beach of el Cuyo Town.
Our next stop was Colonia Yucatan, we went to a trail that goes all the way from Colonia Yucatan to another town called Cenote Azul. This trail has a combination of tropical forest and pastures with fruit trees like Anona. We only traveled about 500 meters and had 38 bird species including: Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Barred Antshrike, Northern Bentbill, Yellow-olive Flycatcher, Greenish and Yellow-bellied Elaenias, Black Catbird, Yellow-throated Euphonia and Red-legged Honeycreeper.
A male Red-legged Honeycreeper at Colonia Yucatán's trail.
Finally, we went to our main and last stop, the trail that goes to the Zapotal Reserve. A very productive site, usually checklists for that trail are never under the 60 species mark.
We spent about 2:30 hours there and traveled for 8 km, pulling out 78 bird species including: Thicket Tinamou, Blue-ground Dove, Caribbean Dove, Canivet's Emerald, White-bellied Emerald, Roadside Hawk, Short-tailed Hawk, Black-headed and Gartered Trogons, Collared-forest Falcon and Bat Falcon, Rufous-breasted Spinetail, Streaked, Sulphur-bellied and Piratic Flycatchers, Yucatan Jay, Green-backed Sparrow, Rose-throated Tanager and many more! But definitely the highlight of the day was watching two adult Plumbeous Kites soaring and hunting for dragonflies, this was such a rare sighting, as this represents the second record of the species for the Yucatan state (the previous one was 138 years ago!)
Canivet's Emerald at the Zapotal trail.
For those interested on the complete list for the last stop, here's the link to the eBird checklist:
We finished May's Global Big Day 2021 with 143 bird species and lots of fun!
Written by Luis Trinchan Guerra