Posted by: ktzefr | January 27, 2014

The Birds of Celestun

We got up early and were out the door in the dark at 5:30 a.m. heading southwest from Merida, Yucatan, Mexico to the little fishing village of Celestun about 90 minutes drive.   Celestun village is the point of entry to the Reserva Ecologica de los Petenes, a 100,000 acre wildlife reserve full of beautiful mangrove forests and one of the largest colonies of flamingos in North America.  This was the first time I had seen thousands and thousands of birds in one place!

Driving through the scrub jungle at daybreak enroute to Celestun, Yucatan; Photo:KFawcett

Driving through the scrub jungle at daybreak enroute to Celestun, Yucatan; Photo:KFawcett

Just after daybreak we stopped near the tiny village of Samahil at Hacienda San Antonio Tedzidz.  The old hacienda, vacated long ago and overrun with vegetation, offered a good spot to have a picnic breakfast (courtesy of our terrific guides; the first time I can recall ever having a breakfast picnic) and look for birds — beautiful orange orioles endemic to the Peninsula, the powdery blue Yucatan jays, flycatchers, and kiskadees.

Hacienda San Antonio Tedzidz, Samahil, Yucatan; Photo:KFawcett

Hacienda San Antonio Tedzidz, Samahil, Yucatan; Photo:KFawcett

In Celestun we took a boat up the river and through the mangroves.  There are more than 300 species of birds here, as well as a large sea turtle population.  We also spotted two crocodiles.  A number of endangered species inhabit the rocks, islets, and forests on the river including ocelots, jaguars, and spider monkeys.

We were greeted by these guys…

Flamingos, Reserva Ecologica de las Petenes, Celestun, Yucatan; Photo:KFawcett

Flamingos, Reserva Ecologica de las Petenes, Celestun, Yucatan; Photo:KFawcett

And these…

Birds in a boat, Celestun Reserva Ecologica de los Petenes, Celestun, Yucatan; Photo:KFawcett

Birds in a boat, Celestun Reserva Ecologica de los Petenes, Celestun, Yucatan; Photo:KFawcett

Lots of white pelicans…

Pelicans on the Ria Celestun, Yucatan; Photo:KFawcett

Pelicans on the Ria Celestun, Yucatan; Photo:KFawcett

Roseate spoonbills, gulls, osprey, herons…

Roseate spoonbill, Ria Celestun, Yucatan; Photo:KFawcett

Roseate spoonbill, Ria Celestun, Yucatan; Photo:KFawcett

Gulls in the sun on the Ria Celestun, Yucatan; Photo:KFawcett

Gulls in the sun on the Ria Celestun, Yucatan; Photo:KFawcett

We boated into the mangrove forest and took a walk along a boardwalk through one area on an islet.  These mangrove swamps are among the most productive ecosystems on earth.  They are highly efficient converters of sunlight into organic matter.  The red mangroves have “breathing holes” in their arching, aerial roots.  The water is a natural rusty red color.

Red mangroves on the Ria Celestun, Yucatan; Photo:KFawcett

Red mangroves on the Ria Celestun, Yucatan; Photo:KFawcett

And you never know what you’ll see here…

Heron in the mangroves, Ria Celestun, Yucatan; Photo:KFawcett

Heron in the mangroves, Ria Celestun, Yucatan; Photo:KFawcett

Everywhere along this river, there are ribbons and ribbons of pink as far as you can see.  Thousands of flamingos live here; others drop by for the winter.  What a gorgeous sight!!

The flamingos of Celestun, Yucatan; Photo:KFawcett

The flamingos of Celestun, Yucatan; Photo:KFawcett

**********

For more information: Check out this article by David Bacab of Celestun Expeditions who arranged this birding tour for us.   Email  dbacab@hotmail.com to arrange tours.  Our guides, Hugo and Angel, were great at sighting hard-to-find birds and provided a wealth of information about the Yucatan and the Celestun refuge.  Contact Hugo Lizama Morales and Angel Gongora.

For a complete list of Yucatan birds and some excellent photos, check out this site for YUCATAN BIRDS.

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  1. […] out the BIRDS OF CELESTUN from the Wildlife Refuge in Celestun, Yucatan, Mexico with it’s tens of thousands of […]


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