Category: MEXICO
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00o00´/00o00´ ha 
Protected/registered status 
Best Time for visit (29th to 31st December 2006)


Birding Site Guide

December 29: the ruins of Bonampak: Leaving our lodgings at 6 in the morning we arrived just after dawn at the entrance gate on the road to Bonampak. This road is now closed to private vehicles and the ruins don’t open until 8. We did get permission to bird the grounds near the visitor center and the access road to the ruins on foot. The second growth and forest edge near the visitor center did hold a good number of birds and among the new ones for the trip were a pair of foraging Blue Ground-Doves, a female Great Antshrike, a pair of Long-billed Gnatwrens, a Black-capped Tityra perched high in a tree, and several Red-legged Honeycreepers. Birding several of the trails leading into the forest netted us a Plain Antvireo, a fine male Red-capped Manakin, a clear Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, a female Collared Trogon, and Sepia-Capped and Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher. By the time we finished birding the trails it was late morning, and we paid (80 pesos a head and another 50 entrance fee for the ruins) for the bus to the ruins about 8 km into the forest proper. Though there were quite a few people visiting the ruins most were clustered around the little stalls around the entrance or already heading back from the site. We had the landing strip and the ruins nearly to ourselves. Starting out with the gardens at the entrance we immediately found a White-necked Puffbird perched out in the open on a snag; a good start! We then checked out the second growth and a short trail at the end of the right half of the landing strip, finding a White-whiskered Puffbird and then a Northern Royal-Flycatcher. A nightjar/nighthawk flushed by Regis remained unidentified. Then on to the forest clearing holding the ruins, where we encountered a nice mixed flock holding such goodies as 2 pairs of Dot-winged Antwrens, 2 Cinnamon Becards, and a pair of Black-throated Antshrikes, while in the ruins themselves we found 2 Blue-Crowned Motmots, a Rufous Mourner and then Regis found a Rufous-tailed Jacamar perched on a snag just inside the forest. As we hadn’t found any new hummingbirds yet, we then decided to check the other side of the runway as it held quite a few flowering trees and bushes. Lots of hummer activity here, and one of the last ones found was a Black-crested Coquette. We then reluctantly hurried back to the entrance as we were nearing closing time, where the last species added to the growing list was a pair of Mealy Parrots calling loudly as they flew across the clearing. 
December 30: Bonampak and then further to Yaxchillan: Saw us returning at dawn to the visitor center where after a quick check of the grounds we headed into the forest looking for some of the forest birds we still missed. No tody motmot’s unfortunately, and Mexican ant-thrushes were again heard only, but a Stub-tailed Spadebill and 2 male Red-capped Manakins were found at the start of the trail and after some time we chanced upon a good sized mixed flock containing tanagers, several woodcreepers, a pair of Smoky-brown Woodpeckers, a single Buff-throated foliage-gleaner and some Band-backed Wrens. While on the way back we caught a reasonable look at a Short-billed Pigeon and good looks at both Dusky Antbird and a Rufous Piha. We decided not to return to the ruins, but do a quick check of some of the pools (one of which held a single weary female Muscovy Duck) near the campground we were staying at and then head for Frontera, from where we planned to visit Yaxchillan the following day.

December 31: Yaxchillan: The Hotel Escudo Jaguar was booked full for the holidays, but we managed to get a tent on the hotel grounds for 50 pesos for the night. Having arranged the boat the day before, we left at 6.30 for Yaxchillan. The trip along the river was uneventful and we arrived at the ruins at about 7.15, where upon asking the wardens we got permission to enter the ruins (they normally open at 8). We birded these impressive ruins the whole morning, but weren’t very lucky, and excepting a group of spider monkeys came away with nothing new. No regrets though as the site was very impressive and well worth the visit for its architecture and surroundings alone. 

Upon our return to Frontera we packed up our gear and headed out on the Frontera del Sur for Tsizcao and the Lagos de Montebello. We caught our only new bird for the day, an impressive pair of King Vultures just outside Frontera. The Frontera road along the Guatemalan border must once have run through great forest, but almost all of that is gone, converted into pasture or fields, and leaving a mostly bare landscape. Our long drive was livened up, though by people instead of birds: first by a Mariachi band complete with stacks of speakers playing their hearts out on a bridge crossing the Usumacinta. God knows why they picked that spot, as there was no-one around for miles! Then when nearing one of the military checkpoints we were pulled over by 4 heavily armed cops, whose sergeant asked if we spoke English. He explained he had bought an American pick-up truck and couldn’t understand some of the dashboard warnings. Could we explain? Between the few words of English he understood, our crap Spanish and lots of sign language we managed to explain what we thought the problem was, whereupon were sent of with a smile and an “adios”.

Species seen Bonampak




For a full Excel species trip list please contact the authors:

Regis Nossent: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Filip Beeldens: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.