Friday, 25 January 2013

Conservation Biology Field Course, Mexico, Days 8-10

The Conservation Biology group 2013 at the Mayan
ruins of Dzibanché. (Photo: Miguel Franco)
Days 8-10 involved a trip to the coast, a boat trip through the mangroves of Laguna Guerrero and Chetumal Bay, and a day at the Mayan ruins of Dzibanché.

Once a small fishing village, Mahahual is now a destination for cruise ships. Some days three ships might be moored at once, with potentially 12,000 passengers looking for something to do. Other days, the village is more or less deserted. During this year's visit, we saw the ghost town version.

Our aim was to assess the environmental impact of the tourism on this small village.

Mahahual's main promenade. (Photo: Reanne Kelf)

Tourist facilities in the coral lagoon. (Photo: Reanne Kelf)

Mahahual now attracts the attention of larger chains and
caters for a very different market from the first tourists.
(Photo: Wai Yi)

Even on a quiet day, some vendors are walking the beach.
(Photo: Reanne Kelf)
A juvenile Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea).
(Photo: Wai Yi)
A Royal Tern (Sterna maxima).
(Photo: Wai Yi)

A Yellow-throated Warbler (Dendroica dominica).
(Photo: Wai Yi)
A Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus) doing
what flycatchers do best. (Photo: Wai Yi)
Insects even occupy the beach. (Photo: Wai Yi)

The next day was a boat trip through the mangroves of Laguna Guerrero. Looking out for a manatee (no luck this year), bird watching and looking closely at the adaptations of mangroves was the point of today's activities.

One of our boats in Laguna Guerrero. (Photo: Wai Yi)

A large flock of Lesser Scaup (Aythyra affinis).
(Photo: Wai Yi)

American Coot (Fulica americana) frightened off by the
approaching boats. (Photo: Wai Yi)

A Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura aura). (Photo: Wai Yi)

A female (left) and male Magnificent Frigatebird
(Fregata magnificens). (Photo: Wai Yi)

An Osprey (Pandion haliaetus). (Photo: Wai Yi)
Our lunch stop and a chance to look for the four
mangrove tree species. (Photo: Paul Ramsay)
The Black Mangrove (Avicennia germinans) with
its characteristic pneumatophores.
(Photo: Paul Ramsay)

We visited the archaeological sites of Dzibanché and Kinichná on Day 10. In part, it provided an opportunity to consider the long-term occupation of this rainforest zone by large human populations. It also gave us a chance to do some more bird surveys and to examine the activity of leaf-cutting ants. Sadly, the ants had been recently poisoned (to keep the trees looking nice) to there was no much activity to see.

A lonely leaf-cutting ant. (Photo: Wai Yi)

Our bus and a Ficus maxima strangling fig.
(Photo: Wai Yi)

One of the temples. (Photo: Wai Yi)

A view of the forest from one of the temples.
(Photo: Wai Yi)
A beautiful wasp's nest on a Bursera
tree. (Photo: Wai Yi)

A Bat Falcon (Falco rufigularis albigularis) in a tree next
to one of the temples. (Photo: Wai Yi)
An Ivory-billed Woodcreeper (Xiphorhynchus flavigaster
). (Photo: Wai Yi)

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