Location: Rio Lagartos, Yucatán, Mexico
Bird Spotting in the River of the Crocodiles
These is a place in the Yucatán called the River of Crocodiles, or Rio Lagartos in Spanish. We decided to visit some of the local wildlife. We start by introducing ourselves to the local reptiles at the neighborhood crocodile farm. Here we are shown an enclosed pond with five male and thirty breeding female crocodiles. The caretaker reassures us that they are well fed and unlikely to attack us. He then opens the gate and invites us to get up close and personal. My first reaction is, “Are you fricking kidding me?” But my curiosity wins out. I must get a closer view of those wonderful scraggly teeth.
The youngsters are in a different pen and are a quite a bit smaller, but they make up for this with their enthusiasm. The mere tossing of a few chicken parts brings a dozen or more snapping little jaws into play.
We then approach the harbor of Rio Lagartos where the boats seem to be manned by pelican crews.
They look as if they have just staged a mutiny and are getting ready to sail off on their own.
We hop into a pelican-free boat and are off to see the birds and animals. As we travel among the mangrove trees, every little bend in the estuary seems to offer a different species. It almost looks as if they were posing for us. I can imagine the bird director saying, “Okay, Great Blue,
here comes the boat. Now I want you to pose for a minute then take off in flight to show them what your wings can do.
You there, Snowy Egret, get ready to pose in the next bend.
Black Hawk, profile please, show us your best side.
Hey, Parakeet, can you hold still for a few seconds.”
And yes, there were free range crocodiles, but climax of the trip was the viewing of the flamingos.
Just seeing them was amazing, but watching them take off in flight was a magnificent spectacle, well worth the journey.