After months of planning and coordinating with a wide range of organizations from the Yucatan Peninsula, the “Volando por la Península” festival was a complete success! The event was organized by the GreenJay Mayan Birding Club; and it would have not been possible without the time and passion for birds and community by them and the other regional organizations. The festival lasted two days and it brought together bird experts as well as people learning about birds for the very first time.
During the first day, the activities took place in the Planetario Ka’Yok’ in Cancun (Mexico), which hosted all sorts of fun and interactive activities for people of all ages. The planetarium brought together kids who had never been to it before and kids who attended it regularly. “Volando por la Peninsula” made an active effort to include underserved kids—the event provided breakfast for one-hundred children. The festival also attracted people from all over the Yucatan Peninsula, even people who came from outside of Mexico! For instance, a group of birdwatchers and ecotourism guides traveled from Guatemala for almost twenty hours by land to attend the event in Cancun. More than 500 people with diverse backgrounds, but who shared a passion and love for their communities and environment, showed up at the planetarium to be part of the event. It was fantastic to see so many happy faces brought together by the love of birds!
At the planetarium participants had the chance to engage in a variety of bird-related activities, such as a photography exhibit put on by the Red de Monitores Comunitarios “Mayan Jays” and a story telling session. More interactive activities for kids and adults took place through out the day origami, drawing and painting, and even planting. Palo de Rosa (Tabebuia rosea), Ramón (Brosimum alicastrum), Ciricote (Cordia dodecandra), and aguacate (Persea Americana) were planted around the planetarium to provide food and shelter for local birds and other forms of wildlife.
Local organizations were also able to share their beautiful handcrafts, delicious traditional food, and interesting presentations about the relevance of birds and conservation in the region. The organizations involved in the festival promoted community-based actions to protect birds, the cultural roots of the community, and the natural beauty of the region in many fun and exciting ways.
One of the most impressive activities at the planetarium was the inauguration of the collective mural by Colectivo Inlakech and Brocha gorda, directed by the Mexican muralist Victor Puga. The permanent indoor mural was painted with beautiful colors on the planetarium walls. The impressive artwork shows the connections between local birds, Mayan culture, nature, planet earth and the universe. Time is also symbolically represented in the background, which shows the visible constellations from the peninsula during the four seasons of the year.
The kids who attended the event were not left behind, and with the help of the artists they created a mural outside the planeterium full of colors and birds native to the peninsula. They were enthusiastic and worked together to create a beautiful work of art!
Even with all of the amazing activities that occurred on the first day, the second day was not short of wonders. Almost one hundred birdwatchers of all levels, from different communities from Yucatan and elsewhere, gathered at sunrise in the Toh Nature Reserve to go on a gigantic bird watching excursion. This brought people together to teach each other and be marveled by the beautiful native birds and the many nests found along the gorgeous and diverse nature trails. The birdwatchers were able to take beautiful photos and learn about the many different bird species they watched.
After the excursion, participants enjoyed a delicious brunch of traditional dishes in the reserve. Recognition diplomas, awards and beautiful festival t-shirts were distributed amongst the participants to remember the remarkable weekend.
The festival “Volando por la Peninsula” was beautifully executed and it was an amazing way of bringing people together to enjoy bird watching, learning about birds and about the relevance of community involvement and actions for successful conservation programs in the Yucatán Peninsula.
A special thanks to the organizations that made this possible: GreenJay Mayan Birding, Amigos de Isla Contoy, Ka’Yok Planetario de Cancún, Red de Monitoreo Comunitario Mayan Jays, CONABIO PAU: Programa de Aves Urbanas , Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Amigos de Sian Ka’an, Maya Ka’an, Programa de Aves Urbanas, Reserva Toh A.C., Colectivo Inlakech, Brocha Gorda, Brown Jay Mayan Birding, Coonil Birding Club, Semilleros de Alas Campeche, Cozumel Birding Club, Club de Observadores de aves Dzibaban, Club de observación de aves Tata´k Che´i, Trogons Birding Club, Peten Birders Club, Festival de las Aves de Campeche, Aves de la Laguna , Festival Alas de Sisal, Festival de las Aves de Cozumel, Mul K´ab, Fundación de Parques y Museos de Cozumel, Jóvenes por la Conservación.
(Most of the links are only available in Spanish).
Photos are courtesy of Green Jay Mayan Birding Club and Marta del Campo. The festival’s logo was designed and created by Ana María Savarino.
Page by: Vanessa Navarro Rodriguez