One of the best things about Chan Chich is the easy access to a variety of trails. We didn't get to explore all of them but here are some of the ones we visited.
King's Tomb Trail, Norman Plaza Trail, Back Plaza Trail
These trails all connect and make for a good wander, as we found out on our first full day. Along the King's Tomb Trail we watched both Yucatan Black Howler monkeys and Central American spider monkeys in the trees above us.
|Central American spider monkey|
Birds included our first Lesson's Motmot of the trip and decent views of a White-bellied Wren.
We gave up on finding a very loud singing Green Shrike-Vireo but spotted a singing Yellow-throated Euphonia.
Along the Norman Temple Trail a lizard scurried across the path and paused giving us great looks at how awesome it was.
|Hernandez's Helmeted Basilisk|
This lizard did wonders for team morale as the heat and lack of birds for a bit had worn us down. Soon after I stopped short when I heard a rustling sound in the forest. It took a minute but Jacob managed to spot my most wanted target bird on the trip, Mayan Antthrush!
This was a bird we heard on most bird walks with Luis but this was the only one we saw. Very cool. We carried on and found more fun birds.
As we came around a corner we spooked a bunch of birds that had been using a big water-filled leaf as a bath. An ant-tanager flew up along with our lifer Tawny-winged Woodcreeper.
Complete checklist from this walk here.
A few days later Jacob was taking a nap after lunch and I decided to walk over to the King's Tomb Trail. This turned out to be a great decision as I quickly found myself overwhelmed by a mixed flock.
We learned from Luis that Black-throated Shrike-Tanagers often serve as the "leaders" of the mixed flocks around here. When they go, the birds follow.
Other birds in the flock were Eye-ringed Flatbill, Northern Bentbill, Ivory-billed and Olivaceous Woodcreepers, Summer Tanager, and the always-present Yellow-bellied Flycatchers.
Xaxe Venic Trail
The Xaxe Venic Trail was one I had built up in my head because so many trip reports mention it as a spot for a bunch of our target birds. We checked it out one afternoon, dodging rain showers, and encountered a herd of 10-15 White-lipped peccaries.
Herds of wild animals make me a bit nervous but these guys just worked their away down the trail and back into the forest. We did find some good birds but very few photo ops. Finally getting good looks at a Northern Schiffornis felt like a win.
We followed the trail to where it intersects the Bajo Trail, right by some water. There were maddening numbers of birds we could not see or identify, along with a single Russet-naped Wood-Rail. We turned around here as we were both ready for dinner. Complete checklist here.
A couple days later on the morning bird walk Luis took us back to the Xaxe Venic knowing we wanted to see certain birds there. Despite his best efforts it seemed like we would dip on our targets but the walk back proved decent. First our lifer Mangrove Vireos gave us great looks (and terrible photos), then Luis heard a Rose-throated Tanager above us!
Then we saw a few Yellow-bellied Tyrannulets being adorable but my photos do not do them justice. When I first saw pics of them when studying for this trip I had thought oh, another bird that looks like a Social Flycatcher-Boat-billed-Kiskadee type thing. But I swear they are so much better. Anyway, complete checklist from this walk here.
On our last morning after breakfast we returned to the Xaxe Venic for one more shot at one of our targets, Gray-breasted Chat. We heard it singing but it would never get close enough for a view. It was getting late and we needed to get back to finish packing before lunch so we turned around thinking that was it, the trip was basically over.
But wait! There's more! A mixed flock appeared and gave us a fantastic send-off.
|Orchard Oriole, a trip bird|
|Olive-backed Euphonia, another trip bird|
The real glory arrived in the form of a Chestnut-colored Woodpecker, a bird that we had caught brown blurry glimpses of as it flew across the road or trail. Never enough of a view to count it. Until now!
|Chestnut-colored Woodpecker, my last lifer of the trip|
This was a fantastic ending to the trip but I still have not shared everything. One more post to come from Chan Chich! Good times!!