Sunday, February 27, 2011

Painted Bunting

A Painted Bunting, Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.
I always thought that the Painted Bunting was one of the most colorfully striking birds in America, and I living in Northern Illinois, resigned myself of the probability that my chances of seeing one was very small because it resides in the south central states (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana) and the south Atlantic Coasts of South Carolina and Georgia. However, I never considered that I might see one in its winter range of Mexico. It also migrates to Central America, the Caribbean Islands and the southern tip of Florida.

So when I saw this beautiful bird flitting around a garden of a small homestead in the middle of the Yucatan Forest, and there is no other bird that I know of that looks like this, I knew it was a Painted Bunting, and Luis quickly confirmed it as soon as he saw it.

Its unmistakable blue head with red eye ring and red underparts, contrasting with its yellowish green back is not like any other bird in the U.S. It's great day when one sees a Painted Bunting, especially in an area when i totally didn't expect it.

A somewhat blurry photo of the beautiful Painted Bunting, Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.
The same Painted Bunting, Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Black-throated Green Warbler

Val's photo of a Black-throated Green Warbler, Puerto Morelos, Mexico, 12/24/10.
The first time I saw (or at least identified) a Black-throated Green Warbler was last summer while hiking up Blood Mountain in Goergia, but unfortunately I didn't get a decent picture. So when Luis announced that he just spotted one up in a tree, I was excited to have another chance at a photo.  Instead the best photo came from Val (Above) which could be of either a female or a juvenile male.

Black-throated Green Warblers spend their summers throughout much of Canada east of the Rockies and south into the Great Lakes and Northeast States and along Appalaichia. Its winter residence extends from the southern tip of Florida, along the Atlantic Coast of Mexico, throughout the Caribbean Islands and south into Central America.

A BIF photo of a Black-throated Green Warbler, Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.
Val also got a nice sharp BIF shot of the Black-throated Green Warbler, Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Turquois-browed Motmot

The exotic Turquis-browed Motmot with its racquet-shaped tail feathers; Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.
One of the most exotic birds we saw while exploring the jungles of Puerto Morelos was the Turquois-browed Motmot with its unique tail - two long tail feathers that have racket-tips at the end of long bare shafts. This feather shape is not genetic, but instead develops as the weaker middle portion of the feather is rubbed off against branches or other objects. Although the photo (Above) of this Motmot is too backlit to see, it has vibrant colors: turquoise plumage on the throat surrounded by black from the chin to the chest, and a turquoise green eyebrow. The underparts are dull cinnamon, and the "racquet" tips of its tail are also turquois and black.
The Turquoise is smaller (approx. 14" long) than its other member of the Motmots (Blue-crowned Motmot) and it ranges from southeast Mexico to Costa Rica. It can survive in a variety of habitats, but it prefers tropical deciduous and tropical evergreen gallery forest. It may also be found in forest edges and mangroves; savanna trees and thickets, particularly during the wet season.

We either saw this Turquois several times or we saw several different ones - and each time it was a thrill beacuse of its fantastic profile.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Olive-throated Parakeet

Val took this great picture of an Olive-throated Parakeet, Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.
As we were hiking down a dirt road in the middle of a forest near Puerto Morelos, Mexico, three small parakeets with long pointed tails flew right over our heads, but before I could get an aim on them in flight, they were out of sight. When expressing my remorse for missing the photo op., Val said that she captured them just before they flew off (Above). Luis identified them as Olive-throated Parakeets (whuich are also known as Jamaican Conures) which have  completely green bodies with blue primaries on its wings, a prominent white eye ring (which is actually bare skin, and not feathers), and of course a lighter olive green throat and upper beast. Their green bodies enable them to hide easily in the rain forest.

These parakeets are relatively small (only grow up to about 12", but half of that is their long tail) and are primarily found in Jamaica but can also be found in St. Thomas, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Mexico and down to the southern tip of Central America. I could not find any information on whether or not they have ever been sighted in the wild in the U.S.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Canivet's Emerald Hummingbird

Val's much sharper (than mine below) pic of a Canivet's Emerald Hummingbird, Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.
I am not sure how Luis spotted this beautiful hummingbird, but he was pointing in a tree and said the name of the bird. The rest of us (6 of us) were straining into our binoculars and viewfinders to see what he was looking at, and it took several minutes more before anyone else saw it. I think I was the last to finally spot it, and when I did, I found it incredible that Luis saw it in the first place. Look at the photo (Below) where I had my 250mm lens zoomed in all the way. Go ahead and play "Where's waldo" only in this case it's, "Where's the Canivet?" If you didn't know ahead of time that a hummingbird was in the photo, I doubt you'd even think it was a picture of a hummingbird. Why in the world was I taking a picture of a bramble of random flora?

Where's Waldo? Can you spot the Canivet's emerald Humminbird in this photo? Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.

The same photo from above, cropped. It was the bright red bill that finally clued me in on its location; Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.
 Canivet's Emeralds, formerly known as Fork-tailed Emeralds, are endemic to eastern Mexico, and the two most northern countries of Central America - Belize and Guatemala. Their habitat is brushy woodland, overgrown clearings, and forest edges mainly in arid to semihumid areas. Luis said that their beaks are 1-1¼ times that of the head, and that is how he can identify it from other similar green hummingbirds.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Ferruginous Pygmy Owl

A Ferruginous Pygmy Owl on its perch keeping a wary eye on us, Puerrto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.
We saw a few Ferruginous Pygmy Owls (Above) while we out on our Bird Tour with our guide, Luis Ku, near Puerto Morelos. As its name suggests, it is a tiny owl that only grows to about 5"-8" in length.

The Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl is native to South America, Central America and portions of North America, including both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of Mexico and makes appearances into the very southern borders of Arizona and Texas. It seems to have adapted itself to a variety of habitats. According to they take up residence in mostly tropical and subtropical forests, but also in forest clearings, pastureland, parks and gardens with old trees and thick bushes. 
Another Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Puerrto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.
The Ferruginous Pygmy Owl is crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk). We saw a couple at sunrise, but even late into the morning we were spotting them - often on open branches overlooking clearings in the forest as it is known to hunt by day searching for rodents, reptiles and other smaller birds, which they catch with deadly accuracy because their feathers are extra soft and do not make any noise as it flies towards its unsuspecting prey.
Its bright yellow eyes are very striking (Above) and unusually large in proportion to its head. They are very similar to the Northern Pygmy Owl with a brownish/reddish head , back and wings contrasted with white spots; however the Ferruginous has prominent white eyebrows which help make the yellow eyes even more luminous.  Both species also have a white belly and chest streaked with brown and a tail barred with alternate dark brown and lighter reddish brown stripes. Although the photos here don't show it, they have black marks on the back of their neck which look like eyes to their enemies when their backs are turned.

Owls are a species that I am very much a novice at identifying, so I am looking forward to seeing more and learning more about them.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bat Falcon vs. Brown Jay,

A Brown Jay, Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.
While on our bird tour in Puerto Morelos, Luis pointed out a Bat Falcon sitting on a tree branch a couple hundred feet away. (Later on after looking at my pictures, I realized I photographed a Bat Falcon sitting on a ledge of one of the buildings in our resort in Cancun just two days before). But before I could draw a bead on the Falcon in my viewfinder, it took flight out of sight.  Not long after, a rather large bird with at least a two foot wingspan swooped above us and landed in a tree down the road in front of us. Luis immediately identified it as a Brown Jay. It stayed put long enough to get few pics (Above). Within a few minutes the Bat Falcon returned with prey in its talons and landed on the top of a broken tree and began picking at its kill (Below).
A Bat Falcon holding a kill in its talons, Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.
Val's pic of the Bat Falcon holding a kill in its talons, Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.
The Brown Jay sitting in the tree across the road from the Bat Falcomn suddenly became very aware and interested in the Bat Falcon. It took flight and circled around the falcon a couple of times and returned to the tree it originally was in when I first took its picture. After a few minutes, again the Jay took flight and circled the Falcon busy with its meal.  With each flight, the Brown Jay landed on a branch just a bit closer to the falcon, untill it eventually landed in a branch of the same tree within just a few feet of the falcon (Below).
The Brown Jay landing near the Bat Falcon, feigning indifference, but obviously interested in what the Falcon has in  its talons. The Bat Falcon is very aware of the Jay, Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.
While the Bat Falcon was busy eating its new-caught meal, the Brown Jay not being very patient suddenly made an attacking lunge at the Falcon (Below).
The Brown Jay attacks the Bat Falcon hoping to get a part of the Falcon's kill, Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.
But before the the Brown Jay had a chance, the falcon was gone, leaving the Jay sitting in the spot where the Falcon was eating its meal. The Brown Jay, not finding anything of interest in the spot the Bat Falcon just vacated, it also decided to leave and landed in another tree to sulk over its failed attempt at trying to steal the bat Falcon's hard-earned meal. Val  took a good picture of the sulking Brown Jay (below).
Val's pic of a Brown Jay wondering where the falcon went with the meal it tried to steal, Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.

It was rather an amusing little snapshot of nature playing out the age-old tale of "the survival of the fittest." We never could figure out exactly what the Bat Falcon had caught - but it looked like it had a long tail.

Brown Jays are the largest of the Jay Family growing well over a foot long with over a 2 foot wingspan, They are fairly common throughout Mexico and Central America as well as Costa Rica and other Caribbean islands. It is rarely seen in the U.S. except for an occaissional sighting along the Rio Grande at the southern tip of Texas. Brown Jays are very adaptable as they thrive in many ecological systems ranging from a dry savannah to tropical and subtropical forests as well as plantations, arable land, and former forests that have been stripped with logging.  They genrally have completely dark brown head, back, tail and wings with a creamy white belly and underneath the tail.

The Bat Falcon is named after its skill of hunting down and fondeness for its cheif prey - bats - snatching the bats in mid flight; they are also adept at catching smaller birds and large insects. They are very seldom, if ever seen in the U.S., and are mainly residents of tropical Mexico, Central and South America and Trinidad. The Bat Falcon is of a similar size to the Brown Jay, with males growing up to about 2' and females to 30" in length. Adults have a black back, head and tail. The throat, upper breast and neck sides are creamy white, the lower breast and belly are black, finely barred white, and the thighs and lower belly are orange.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Black-headed Trogon; Motmot Birding Tours with Luis Ku near Puerto Morelos, Mexico

A Black-headed Trogon, Puerto Morelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.
On December 24, I hired a local bird expert, Luis Ku from Motmot Birding Tours in Cancun ( ), to take us out on a bird-watching tour. I have never hired a professional before and always depended on my own knowledge and luck, but I wanted someone who not only knew his birds but knew where to find them. Val and I were joined by Chris from Ontario, Canada.  Luis and his team of 3 picked Val and I up at 5 AM at our resort, and picked up Chris from where he was staying about 30 minutes later, so we could get an early start. Essentially there were 4 people from his group to 3 clients, although, Luis was by far the expert. We took a van out to the "jungles" of Quintana Roo near Puerto Morelos. For me it would be equivelent to hiking through the Kettle Moraine State Forest in Wisconsin, where I grew up.
By 6 AM we were walking down a gravel/dirt road surrounded by a thick forest of trees and brush, well before sunrise, and almost immediately birds were flying and singing from all corners and Luis started, "There's a Green Jay, Melodious Blackbird, Yucatan Woodpecker, Black-headed Trogon..." and he rattled off several birds that he spotted or heard before I saw anything. All I could think was, "Sunlight I need sunlight," or I won't get a single photograph worth anything.  Hummingbirds were buzzing us from every direction, and Luis would continue his list, "Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Mexican Sheartail, Green-breasted Mango, Ruby-throated Hummingbird [I knew that one!], ..." How did he know what they were? It was too dark and my skepticism rose to the surface - maybe he didn't know, but was just
reciting a list of birds he knew, whether he saw them or not.  But then I thought, back in Illinois, I would immediately recognize a Robin, a Cowbird, a Chickadee or a Cardinal in these same conditions without much scrutiny, and I am not an expert. This is what he does for a living - he's the expert - he knows.
Also I wasn't used to go out birding in a group. I pretty much am always solo when I go out with the sole purpose of birding. Or when Val is with me, it's usually initiated as a hike that I turn into a birding excursion. Nevertheless, I am usually accustomed to my own pace. Now here I am walking down a gravel road in a Mexican Woods with 6 other people, and dependent on Luis to identify what I am seeing or not seeing, but what was incredible - there was no talking except when someone would point out a bird, then all would stop and focus their binoculars or cameras on the same spot, and within a few seconds Luis would whisper, "Rose-throated Becard."  Everyone would say something like, "It's so pretty!" "Wow, beautiful," or "Very cool," and I would think, "Where the hell is it?" Now I admit my 250mm zoom lens was not comparable to their 1000mm binoculars, but I didn't want to just see the bird, I wanted a picture. I  must say that Luis's crew was very patient and would point out the exact spot we should be aiming our lenses and describe the surroundings and the bird's identifying traits.

As frustrated as I was when we started, once the sun was up enough to shed light on the subject, I became more adept at locating birds and finding them more quickly through my viewfinder. As I stated in my 12/31/10 post ( ),  Luis identified well over 50 different species of birds in the 3-4 hours we were out. I observed 47 different species, of which 26 were new life-listers for me. The whole experience was awesome for me as a fledgling birder.

 One of the first new birds I captured in my viewfinder was the Black-headed Trogon. This was the third one we saw within the first hour of our birding hike, but was the first that was in an open enough position to get a decent pic. These birds are native to Mexico, most of Central America and Costa Rica and islands off the southeastern coast of Mexico. As you can see in the picture (Top of page), the Black-headed Trogon is a gorgeous dark blue bird with a blck head and black wings which include white markings on its primaries and coverts. Its bright yellow belly, with a bit of white on its chest and a very bold white eye ring contrast nicely with the rest of its dark body.

A back view of another Black-headed Trogon, Puerto Morelos, Mx; 12/24/10.

Val took this pic of a yet another Black-headed Trogon, Puerto Morelos, Mx; 12/24/10.
Tomorrow I will feature a raptor and scavenger battling for the same prey.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ovenbird and Yellow-faced Grassquit, Chichen Itza, Mexico

The great Mayan Pyramid, Kukulcan, one of the "Modern Seven Wonders of the World,"
Chichen Itza, Mexico; 12/22/10.

The sitting figure of Chac Mool, on top of the Temple of Warriors, Chichen Itza, Mexico; 12/22/10.
We took a tour to visit the most famous and largest ancient Mayan City Ruin in the Yucatan Peninsula, Chichen Itza.  Our guide told us that it is so vast that it would take three days to cover all the sites of the city. We concentrated on the major buildings in the center of the city. It is a very popular tourist stop, but even with the crowds it is well worth the visit. We happened to get there in the afternoon while it was crowded, but we stayed until closing and crowds thinned out so we could get some good photos without a lot of people obstructing the views (Above two pics). Then after a short dinner break we returned in the evening to watch a light show on the buildings and listen to a recorded lecture about the History of the Mayans at Chichen Itza.
Colored lights of the light show reflecting on the Mayan Ruins of Kulkucan Pyramid (right) and the Temple of the Warriors (far background) as the stars shone at night anf the full moon rises (left), Chichen Itza, Mexico; 12/22/10.
The Light Show and History lesson were interesting enough, but the clear star-filled sky and the full moon rising during the middle of the show outshone (pun intended) the show itself.  The photo (Above) showing some of the light show effects on the ruins has been enhanced a bit in Photoshop Elements to make it more dramatic.

Before we visited Chichen Itza, our tour stopped at a Cenote (Below two pics), which is a natural well made by underground rivers, that are popular stops for taking a swim. The Mexican government has developed some of the many Cenotes located in the Yucatan for public use. The Cenote we visited had a long tunnel of steps leading down to the water (the water itself was over 50' deep). The legend is that anyone who swims in a Cenote will feel like they took three years off their life. I am assuming that means they will feel three years younger, not die three years earlier. Val swam. I didn't. Now she may be too young for me.

The tunnels made of limestone leading down to the Cenote, 12/22/10.

A view of the Cenote from above with vines hanging down and taking root at the bottom of the well; 12/22/10.
While Val was swimming, I decided to explore the beautiful grounds surrounding the cenote to see if I could locate any birds. It was in the middle of a very forestlike setting so there were plenty of places for birds to reside. I saw the usual Great-tailed Grackles and Tropical Mockingbirds, and also spotted an Oriole, which later, Luis Ku (a Yucatan bird expert) thought was either an Orange Oriole or an Altimara Oriole. Then I came upon a "flutter" of Mexican Sparrows known as Yellow-faced Grassquits which were feeding on the ground in front of someone's small cottage where the landscaped gardens were being watered with a sprinkler. They stayed pretty well hidden thwarting my attempt for a clear photo. I found out from  that a flock of sparrows are known by many names: "crew", "flutter", "meinie", "quarrel", and "ubiquity." I love it - I observed an "ubiquity" of Yellow-faced Grassquits. These cute little birds are genrally olive-colored all over (paler on the underparts) with a darker face and bright yellow eyebrow and throat which gives it an appearance of wearing a yellow mask, thus its name.

A Yellow-faced Grassquit, Puerto Moelos, Mexico; 12/24/10.
I didn't get very clear shots of these little guys at the cenote. They were foraging in the groundcover and stayed pretty well hidden and as I approached to try to get a better photo they fled into the brush and disappeared. But a couple of days later I saw another pair in Puerto Morelos of which I got a more reasonable pic (Above). These Mexican Sparrows are native to the Caribbean and Mexico and very rarely enter into the U.S. perhaps at times into south Florida and southern Texas. When I approached too close for comfort, this "quarrel" of Grassquits disappeared into the brush, but another bird landed right in front of me. I focussed in on it and saw that it was some kind of thrush, which stayed put long enough for me to get a few pics.

An Ovenbird, near Chichen Itza, Mexico; 12/22/10.
After I had a chance to reseach this bird I found it to be the bird that had escaped my view for two years as I have tried stalking it many times and in many states (Illinois, Wisconsin, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia to name a few). The Oven bird has a very recognizable and loud call.  Its song is a series of two syllable notes that increase in volume as it sings. So many times hearing the Ovenbird, I felt like I was right next to it, but I could never spot it to get a picture, but here in Mexico one lands right in front of me. Although to me it looks more like a thrush, it is smaller and is considered part of the wood warbler family. Its distinct black streaks on its white breast and its very prominent white eye-ring is what led me to think "thrush," but its double black stripe with orange in between on its crown is what were its difinitive identifying marks. The photo (Above) doesn't show these crown stripes very clearly, but some of my other photos which were less crisp showed these marks. Ovenbirds' summer range is quite wide, found throughout the Midwest and the entire eastern half of the U.S., extending up into much of Canada. They are very rarely found in the Rockies or west of the Rockies. They will Spend winters from the Gulf Coast and the tip of Florida to South America. Ovenbirds prefer habitats of mature, dry forests and spend most of their time foraging on the ground. Although I saw only one solitary Ovenbird, if I would have seen a collective group of them, they would be called a "stew" of Ovenbirds. Who thinks of these names?

Next weekend I will start a series (that should take several weekends) of birds that I observed while taking my first tour with a real bird guide and expert, Luis Ku - who was awesome!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Reddish Egret, Roseate Spoonbill, White Ibis

This post will not consist of good bird photography, but they are of three birds that I never dreamed of seeing and was ecstatic when I saw them. I apologize that the quality of the photos don't reflect the quality of my enthusiasm of seeing them. In all cases the three birds were at a very far distance or were in poor light.

Here they are:

A Reddish Egret in flight; Isla Contoy, Mexico; 12/21/10.
When I snapped the photo of the Reddish Egret (Above) I wasn't sure what bird was flying through the air, until later when I zoomed in on it. Its unique pinkish white bill with a black tip along with the red top of the head helped me with the identification. Reddish Egrets are found on the southern coasts of Florida and Texas as well as the Gulf Islands along the south shores of Alabama and Mississippi and extend throughout the Caribbean Islands.

A Roseate Spoonbill perched in the tree with two Reddish Egrets and one in flight with a Magnificent Frigatebird; Isla Contoy, Mexico; 12/21/10.
 While we were in the observation tower at Isla Contoy's headquarters, Val said she saw a flash of pink flying in the air way out on the edge of the island. When I talked to our tour guide about how to get out that far, I was told "impossible" after all it is a wildlife sanctuary. The best I could do is scan the distant shores of the Island from the boat as we returned to Cancun. The photo (Above) is the best I could get with my 250mm zoom. I can't wait until I upgrade to a stronger zoom lens. Roseate Spoonbills would be the only pink bird of this size in residence on isla Contoy at this time of year. I was assured that Flamingoes were long gone, and wouldn't return until March / April. Spoonbills are found throughout much of South America, but also can be found along the Gulf Coast of South Florida and Texas as well as Cuba and other Caribbean islands.
Two White Ibis on the shore of the Nichupte Lagoon in Cancun, while we were departing on our boat for Isla Contoy, Mexico; 12/21/10.
The White Ibis (Above) is unique with its long hooked bill (as all the Ibis species), which is what I saw when I was trying to get a decent pic. But being on a boat moving away from my subject which were in the shadows of the trees with a bright sun glaring as a backlight set me up for a poor photo. White ibis can be found all along the Gulf Coast and Caribbean Islands pretty much year round. In summer they will migrate just a bit north into the Southeastern states looking for marshes and mudflats (and even wet lawns) as their favorite habitat.

Just seeing these three exotic water birds, and not getting good pics of them, just makes me more motivated to come back to this area again to see if I get another chance for the photo.

Two Iguanas of the day; Cancun, Mexico; 12/25/10.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Palm Warblers and Isla Contoy Marine Life

A Palm Warbler in its non-breeding plumage, foraging on a walking trail, Isla Contoy, Mx; 12/21/10.
Again, after stalking what I was hoping to be an exotic bird from Mexico, I ended up with a photo of a Palm Warbler (Above).  I saw many Palm Warblers at our own Blackhawk Springs Forest Preserve this past fall as they were on their southern migration from Canada and the Northeast U.S. to their winter grounds in the South east U.S. and Mexico. Perhaps I saw one of the same birds? (Below)

A Palm Warbler, Blackhawk Springs Forest Preserve, Rockford, IL; 10/3/10.
A Palm Warbler taking a bath in a stream, Blackhawk Springs Forest Preserve, Rockford, IL; 10/3/10.
I have only once seen a Palm Warbler in its breeding plumage. They are very pretty - their pale eyebrow turns yellow and they sport a reddish cap on their heads and reddish streaks on their chest and belly (much like a Yellow Warbler's reddish streaks). I have a photo from Bauman park (Rockford, IL; 5/5/10) but the lighting is poor and you wouldn't be able to see its breeding plumage; however, (Below) is a good drawing from to show their breeding plumage.
Images of Palm Warblers in their breeding plumage;

A Jellyfish floating in the muddy waters of the lagoon near the nesting site of the Magnificent Frigatebirds, Isla Contoy, Mx; 12/21/10.

From the docking pier, Val took the photos of these two fish in the clear water of the beach, Isla Contoy, Mx; 12/21/10.
Does anyone know what type they are?

A Manta Ray swimming in the beach water, Isla Contoy, Mx; 12/21/10.

Our Tour Guide (Ulysses) feeds fish to the Manta Ray, Isla Contoy, Mx; 12/21/10.

A Needlefish in the clear water off the pier, Isla Contoy, Mx; 12/21/10.

A school of Sardines  in the clear water off the pier, Isla Contoy, Mx; 12/21/10.

The Brown Pelicans were dive bombing this water continuously to feed on these Sardines, Isla Contoy, Mx; 12/21/10.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Ospreys and Hermit Crabs

Since northern Illinois has been abuzz over a visit of a Snowy Owl these past several days, I now return to to my regularily scheduled series about "Birds of Mexico" that we saw during the week before Christmas, 2010. 

An Osprey peers over the edge of its nest on Isla Contoy, Mexico; 12/21/10
Ospreys are well known for building huge nests on top of man-made structures. In this case, on Isla Contoy, the man-made structure was meant for an Osprey (Above) to nest on. Also on the boat trip to Isla Contoy, as we were leaving the marina in Cancun, we passed a tower with another Osprey nest on top. If you look closely, you can see a young Osprey peaking over the edge (Below).
An young Osprey looks over the edge of its nest built on a Telephone tower, Cancun, Mexico, 12/21/10.
Check out my post about Ospreys on 6/27/10: 

While scouting out Isla Contoy, other than iguanas, I also saw an abundance of Hermit Crabs.  This tiny army of Hermit Crabs (Below) were picking through an old burned out campfire in a picnic area on the beach of Isla Contoy.
Each one of these shells is occupied by a Hermit Crab, Isla Contoy, Mex.; 12/21/10.

A close up look at a Hermit Crab, Isla Contoy, Mexico, 12/21/10.
Now I am not an expert on Hermit Crabs, but doesn't it look like the Crab in the pic above has both of his eyes coming out of the same eye socket?

The last of my Iguanas of the day; Isla Mujeres, Mexico; 12/20/10.

Tomorrow: Palm Warblers and Isla Contoy marine life.