When you are craving some contact with nature and a break from city life, you can always head for the Yucatán coast or an inland cenote. But there is another option right here in the city! Few Mérida residents, let alone visitors, are aware that we have at least three eco-parks with lakes, birds, trees, and plenty of peace and quiet.
Cherie Pittillo, a native of North Carolina now calling Mérida home, has put together a tour of these three parks as an occasional fundraiser for the Mérida English Library and it has been hugely successful. This former zookeeper eventually became a professional wildlife photographer. Her career took her to Baja California, Kenya, Namibia, and South Africa.
Until about five years ago when Cherie moved to Mérida, she had never lived in a city. However, it wasn’t until her time in the city that she began to notice birds; because of a tree on the lot next to her house which was suddenly cut down, leaving many birds homeless (“my Tree of Sanity”, she calls it). Since then she has recorded more than 50 bird species in her own backyard. You can read her monthly column “Cherie’s Bird of the Month” on this website, and her twice-monthly column “Backyard Birding in Mérida and Beyond” in the Yucatan Times online. Cherie loves to show people and write about the parks so they can get an appreciation of the nature in their own city. Click on our Related Gallery on this page to see more photos.
Parque Acuático: this former rock quarry is located southeast of the center of Mérida. There are small lakes with wading birds, fish and turtles, lots of trees, picnic areas, bridges, soccer field, baskeball court, playground, and even a waterfall. “No one believes me when I mention a waterfall in Mérida!” says Cherie. A walk through this park in the very early morning will recharge your batteries in a way that nothing else can. Bird species Cherie has recorded here: American Coot, Pied-billed Grebe, Black Vulture, Couch’s Kingbird, Limpkin, Least Bittern, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Muscovy Duck, and migrant warblers, tanagers, and sometimes a Snail Kite.
Kai Lu Um (Maya for “song of the earth”): Next to rehabilitation center CRIT on the northwest side of the Periférico is this park reclaimed from a former garbage dump and tortilla factory wastewater dump. Its centerpiece is a beautiful lake with diverse habitats for various birds and animals. In winter, Cherie has recorded: Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Black-necked Stilts and other shorebirds, and migrating songbirds. “A thatched-roof, wide-board gazebo invites quiet contemplation while gazing east over the water,” says Cherie.
Parque Ecológico del Poniente: on the west side of Mérida, also a former rock quarry, now full of trees, ponds, bridges, ferns, water lilies, birds, playground, swimming pool, running track, and more. The upper level walking path’s trees will provide you literally a birds-eye view of many species, including: Great Egret, Little Blue Heron, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Great Kiskadee, Grayish Saltator, Altamira Oriole, migrating songbirds and sometimes a Snail Kite. “I’ve had friends tell me they didn’t believe my photos with water and rocks were taken within the city limits,” says Cherie.
For information about Mérida’s birds, contact Cherie:
Facebook: Cherie Pittillo. Email: [email protected].
Few Mérida residents, let alone visitors, are aware that we have at least three eco-parks with lakes, birds, trees, and plenty of peace and quiet.
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