Beginning the tour
Life among the mangroves
Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis) like to sit on a limb high above the swamp. There was some difference among the various birders who saw this photo, but this appears to be the correct i.d. The bird gets its name from the fact that its main diet consists of large snails. It likes freshwater swamps and roosts in groups.
Northern Potoo (Nyctibius jamaicensis) are nocturnal birds, which probably explains why this one was napping at mid-morning. The Northern Potoo can be found in Mexico, Costa Rica and the islands of Jamaica and Hispaniola. It hunts by resting on a branch and sallying out when prey happens by. Hmmm...hanging out in Mexico or the Caribbean; staying up until the early hours; sleeping late in the morning; making your living by sitting around until dinner appears. My kind of bird.
Ctenosaura pectinata, which refers to the spiky comb along its back. This one appeared to be as curious about me as I was of him. Although rather ferocious-looking, they are harmless unless cornered, and would rather flee than fight. They can grow as much as 140 cm (4.6 ft) long, although the females are generally smaller. The juvenile animals are generally bright green and assume the adult colors as they mature. Unlike other species of Ctenosaura, the Mexican spiny-tail is very social.
1991 Mexican film chronicled the adventures of a real-life Robinson Crusoe named Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca. He and three others were the only survivors of a 600-man Spanish expedition to the Florida coast in 1528. After various misadventures decimated the expedition, Cabeza de Vaca and a handful of survivors were enslaved by Gulf Coast tribes. However, they managed to move from tribe to tribe across the American Southwest and into Northern Mexico. After traveling down the coast of Sinaloa they finally encountered other Spaniards in 1536. Cabeza de Vaca returned to Spain the following year and.published an account of his amazing journey in 1542. After meeting one of Cabeza de Vaca's fellow survivors, Francisco Coronado launched his famous 1540-1542 expedition in search of Cibola and its fabled (but non-existent) Seven Cities of Gold. He traveled north from central Mexico to the vast plains of Kansas before giving up. Cabeza de Vaca is considered a proto-anthropoligist because of his detailed--and sympathetic--observations of the lives and cultures of the native people he encountered during his incredible journey.
White Ibises (Eudocimus albus) do not have the snowy white plumage as juveniles that they obtain when they are full grown. They are found along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the US as well a Mexico and Central America. White Ibises prey on small aquatic animals such as insect and fish. During breeding season, they gather in huge colonies near the water.