Friday, January 21, 2011

Sanderling and Laughing Gulls, Isla Mujeres, Mexico

The north coast of Isla mujeres, Mexico; 12/20/10.
On December 20, we decided to take a ferry and spend the day on Isla Mujeres (Isle of Women) about a 30 minuite boat ride into the Caribbean Sea north of Cancun. According to history, in 1517, Spaniard Francisco Hermandez de Cordoba (a slave hunter) happened upon the island searching for slaves for Cuban mines, and found nothing but old statues which they perceived to be statues of women, thus the name of the island, "Isle of Women".

Present day, this small island (five miles long and less than one mile wide) is a busy tourist stop during the day, but when the last of the ferries take the tourists back to the mainland in the early evening, the island literally goes to sleep. Not that we would know - since we were part of the group of tourists taking a late afternoon ferry back to Cancun. There was a lot of activities to do on the island, including snorkling, ziplining, an underwater museum, and a very cute little town on the western end of the island with beautiful white sand beaches and a marina.
We rented a golf cart at 500 Pesos (about $40) for the day and drove the length of the island exploring the sites.  It only took about 1/2 hour to drive to the other end of the island puttering along in the golf cart. There were also cars on the island, but the ovberwhelming vehicles on the island were golf carts and mopeds.

One of several ziplining towers off shore of Isla Mujeres, Mexico; 12/20/10.
I saw a few birds while visiting the Isle, immediately  upon landing at the dock I saw many Magnificent Frigatebirds (my future 1/28/11 post) and Brown Pelicans ( http://northernillinoisbirder.blogspot.com/2011/01/brown-pelican.html ), and Cormorants filling the sky and shoreline. During our exploration I also a couple of Great Egrets, several shorebirds, as well as the the usual Great-tailed Grackles ( http://northernillinoisbirder.blogspot.com/2010/12/great-tailed-grackle_31.html ) , and Tropical Mockingbirds ( http://northernillinoisbirder.blogspot.com/2011/01/tropical-mockingbird-northern.html ).

A Sanderling in its winter plumage searching for a meal on the rocky shoreline near the sandy beaches of Isla Mujeres, Mexico; 12/20/10.

A Sanderling hanging around a group of Ruddy Turnstones, Isla Mujeres, Mexico; 12/20/10.
Two of the shorebirds I saw were Sanderlings ( Two photos Above) and Laughing Gulls (Below bottom) which I posted about on 1/14/11 ( http://northernillinoisbirder.blogspot.com/2011/01/shorebirds-in-cancun-laughing-gull.html ). The photos of the Sanderlings above are in their non-breeding winter plumage, but a few summers ago while we were exploring the beautiful Oregon Pacific Coastline, Val took a few pics of a flock of Sanderlings scooting along the beach chasing the waves flowing in and out of the beach (Below top). Sanderlings are often seen on both the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts year round. They chase waves on the beach beacuse the wave action causes invertebrate prey to become available which is the Sanderlings chief food.

A flock of Sanderlings gleening the sand for invertebrates as the waves wash back out to the ocean. These Sanderlings are in their colorful summer plumage; Pistol River Scenic Viewpoint, Oregon; 7/13/07.

A group of Laughing Gulls resting on pylons near an Isla Mujeres beach, Mexico; 12/20/10.

Iguana of the day, Isla Mujeres, Mexico; 12/20/10.

2 comments:

tchesney said...

OMGosh that looks like paradise...that blue water is just stunning! I love your flock of sanderlings...very cool reflections!

~Val said...

Now I'm kind of wishing we would have gone closer to those statues....