If you're not familiar with where Cozumel is, here's a screen-cap with a pin on the island of Cozumel:
Perhaps the easiest-to-see Yucatan specialty on Cozumel is the BLACK CATBIRD and it so happens that this was one of my most-wanted. Why? I have no clue... just the thought of a glossy, black catbird... I love it, it's not something we have in the States. Here are two pics of this regional specialty:
Being down in the tropics, it's no major surprise that BANANAQUITS were common as well. Here's one from our first day:
You'll notice above that these BANANAQUITS have bright white throats. It turns out that the subspecies present on Cozumel (Coereba flaveola caboti) is essentially endemic to the island (meaning it's not found anywhere else). Here's another shot of one showing the white throat:
Another example is with this bird, the YUCATAN WOODPECKER:
On the surface, it looks like all the other YUCATAN WOODPECKERS (and all of those kind of look like a Red-bellied/Golden-fronted type). However, the subspecies found on Cozumel has darker upperparts and a darker face. Here's another shot of this regional specialty:
You can see it's more of the Red-eyed/Yellow-green ilk. Here's another shot of the same species (but different bird):
The forests on Cozumel host a variety of flycatchers too including NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULETS, a tiny species with a name longer than the bird. Here's one:
It's a CARIBBEAN ELAENIA. I doubt it was anyone's favorite bird from the island, though. Just a hunch.
In truth, there aren't many species of hummingbirds on Cozumel. BUT, there is one pretty important species. It's the COZUMEL EMERALD, an island-endemic species:
It's a male WESTERN SPINDALIS. This species is mostly Caribbean but it has colonized Cozumel (and has probably been there for quite a while). You see, it's another one of these species with an island-endemic subspecies. In this case, it's Spindalis zena benedicti. If you're into subspecies, this is one to get!
Ooh, another major goal of mine was to see this Piranga tanager. I think there are about 9 species in this genus and, so far, I haven't met a Piranga I haven't liked. Here it is, the ROSE-THROATED TANAGER:
Ok, well, this is a female so it's rather lacking in the rosy throat department! This species IS endemic to the Yucatan Peninsula though so it was an awesome bird to see.
The island was actually pretty productive for wintering warblers. We managed 18 species in the two days there. One of my favorite encounters was when this PRAIRIE WARBLER came down to take a closer look:
Then there were warblers that weren't common. Here's a CAPE MAY WARBLER that I photographed from my hotel bathroom window (yes, yes, odd mental image):
The courtyard was full of warblers, catbirds, doves, grackles, etc. Also included were several BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHERS. Take a look:
You might notice how dark that bird is compared to other BGGNs. Again, it turns out that the resident subspecies of BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER is endemic to Cozumel. It's Polioptila caerulea cozumelae, to be exact. The word Cozumel is even in the name.
The hotel was cool though; MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRDS soared overhead, YELLOW-FACED GRASSQUITS poked around in the grass, YUCATAN WOODPECKERS and RUDDY GROUND-DOVES flew through from time to time, and twittering swarms of VAUX'S SWIFTS curled overhead. If you walked across the street, you'd have this view:
Offshore were BROWN PELICANS, LAUGHING GULLS, and a few SANDWICH TERNS. Poking through the beachside rocks and veg, GREAT-TAILED GRACKLES were commonplace:
We birded the north end of the island one morning which got us into some different habitats (and therefore different species). For one, we saw the PYGMY RACCOONS!
That's right, the critter that's sitting next to some trash. In terms of mammals though, this was pretty cool to see. This species is critically endangered and some experts estimate that there are fewer than 250 of these left on earth. Yes, they're endemic to Cozumel as well... you won't see them anywhere else. Oh, and no, they're not wary!
We arrived in the city of Playa del Carmen on the mainland. Not a bad place to be at work. :-)
... and then... well, to be continued!