From the reports we had read and listened to, this seemed to be one of the best sites on the Yucatan peninsular, so we decided to stay two nights. Before reaching Felipe Carillo Puerto for a hotel, we stopped off at a track about 50km South of Tulum. This is a fairly rough track, which meets one of the entrances to the Sian Kaían Biosphere reserve after about 1km, and was picked particularly for its Orange Orioles (which I didnít identify positively). The track is straight and seemingly quiet, but did have a (noisy) nesting colony of Social Flycatchers, hordes of Tree Swallows presumably migrating over, and a small variety of mixed birds just inside the open gate to the reserve. The area around the gates to the reserve entrance is also a good spot for birds (eg, orioles and Couchís Kingbird). About half way between the road and the reserve, we took a side track to the south. This was a good move - a short way along was an ant colony, with attendant Red-throated Ant-Tanagers and single Grey Headed Tanager. This track led to a clearing, which seemed quiet at first, but following a Squirrel Cuckoo into the forest found Peppershrike and more Orioles.
The Vigia Chico road starts at the town of Felipe Carillo Puerto, stemming five blocks from the easterly bound road from the centre. It is a compacted rock and sandy track, which eventually meets the coast at Vigia Chico after about 50km. We took a full day to cover the first 25km or so. The first kilometre is bounded by the outskirts of the town - rough dwellings and partly worked plots, but quickly gives way to forest. As usual with forest birding, a lot of time and patience was needed to see the birds. The books say it is best to look in the milpas (agricultural plots) early in the day, but these werenít particularly exciting on the first day, although one of the worked orchards was excellent on the second day. We also found three small lagoons along the track, but these had next to no birds, no critters, and next to no interest.
The best birds were found by stopping the car when we saw or heard something of interest, and barging into the forest edge for more. One small patch of forest (next to a milpa) contained a very active and varied bird party, including both tityras, Peppershrike, Blue-winged Warbler, Rose-throated Becard, Green Jay, White-bellied Wren, and Canivetís Emerald & Wedge-tailed Sabrewing. It was also a good day for Woodpeckers, with Ladderback, Smokey-brown, Yucatan, four Lineated and hosts of Golden-fronted. The last Lineated was at dusk, dust bathing in the open road. Some good one-off memories were had - millions of ants crossing the track under the greedy eyes of a pair of Yucatan Jays; a solitary Keel-billed Toucan flying low and briefly over the tree tops; some brilliant trogons perching in the open; and a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl perched directly above us.
The second morning, the plan was to drive the track first light to look for Ocellated Turkey, etc. Apart from a few wandering dogs and annoying vans, we drew a blank. After stopping once or twice and collecting woodcreeper and antshrike, we found a mini-mangrove / pools next to the track. Infested with mosquitoes (which kept their distance), it was also infested with birds. Many warbler species and Social Flycatchers were here, but a Pygmy-Owl tape intended to attract passerines brought in a real Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl. Predictably, plenty of waterthrushes were here with the Social Flycatchers going ballistic over the tape.
On the journey back along the track to Felipe Carillo Puerto, we found an excellent milpa. As usual, a couple of small birds at the track side caught our notice, and we limboed the wooden gate at what looked like a good spot. The orchard itself held Canivetís Emerald, plenty of Golden-fronted Woodpeckers, seedeaters, and the best Rose-throated Becard so far. Birds of prey started to appear overhead at 9:15am. Mainly common vultures, two Great Black Hawks joined in, and then the prize of up to three King Vultures soared over. We had looked at these in the books, but considering their rarity, didnít dream of seeing them. A Short-tailed Hawk then flew in low over the trees and joined the throng, with a Grey Hawk calling from a nearby tree. This was the best BOP watching so far.