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Here is 2015's photo spread from the small wildlife refuge in a mangrove swamp at Playa Linda, Popoyote Lagoon in Ixtapa, Mexico. I look forward to seeing what I've come to think of as "my" animals each year. It's hard to say who is my favorite between the roseate spoonbill birds, the iguanas, or the American crocodiles. But it appears that I never tire of photographing any them. (See pics from past years here.)

I guess maybe I consider the spoonbills the most special because there is no bird like this anywhere near where I live! They seem very exotic to me. And I've watched their population grow at the lagoon. The first year I there, there was one breeding pair. Now there are several. They are pills to photograph because they hang out in the dense mangrove foliage. It's hard to believe such large birds fly around in that space, but they do! 

Roseate spoonbill preening himself in the trees, Popoyote Lagoon at Playa Linda, Ixtapa, Mexico. cocodrilario crocodile reserveRoseate spoonbills putting together a new nest in the dense trees of Popoyote Lagoon at Playa Linda, Ixtapa, Mexico. cocodrilario crocodile reserveRoseate spoonbill resting in a tree, Popoyote Lagoon, Ixtapa, Mexico.Roseate spoonbill landing on a mangrove branch, Popoyote Lagoon, Ixtapa, Mexico. cocodrilario crocodile reserveRoseate spoonbills in flight in dense mangrove foliage, Popoyote Lagoon at Playa Linda, Ixtapa, Mexico. cocodrilario crocodile reserveRoseate spoonbills in flight in dense mangrove foliage, Popoyote Lagoon, Ixtapa, Mexico.Roseate spoonbills in flight in dense mangrove foliage, Popoyote Lagoon, Ixtapa, Mexico. cocodrilario crocodile reserveAnd now presenting the crocodiles, for whom the refuge was established. The other creatures who make it their home are just happy upshots, they found the reserve to be a suitable and pleasant place for themselves as well. But the lagoon was fenced off to protect the crocodiles. These are big boys! Again it's hard to believe so many hang out in this narrow mangrove lagoon, but I've seen 20 or more sharing a small piece of sand to sun themselves. I'm so clever, I call this series of two pics, "Croc pot." :)

Trio of American crocodiles on the shore of the Popoyote Lagoon at Playa Linda, Ixtapa, Mexico. cocodrilario crocodile reserveAmerican crocodiles on the shore of the Popoyote Lagoon at Playa Linda, Ixtapa, Mexico.  cocodrilario crocodile reserve

Now we add a little unfortunate fish to the croc pot ... but if you notice, he is a rather toothy fellow himself. Reminds me of Star Wars movies where no matter how big and scary one carnivorous creature is, there is always a larger one who comes and gobbles up the first one.

American crocodile lunching on a fish at Popoyote Lagoon, Ixtapa, Mexico.American crocodile lunching on a fish at Popoyote Lagoon, Ixtapa, Mexico. cocodrilario crocodile reserve

And now a collection of crocodiles showing us their best sides.  

Coy American crocodile at Popoyote Lagoon at Playa Linda, Ixtapa, Mexico. cocodrilario crocodile reserve

Welcome to my mouth! American crocodile at Popoyote Lagoon at Playa Linda, Ixtapa, Mexico. cocodrilario crocodile reservecocodrilario crocodile reserve, Playa Linda, Ixtapa, Mexico. Friendly crocodile!American crocodile showing of his teeth, reflecting in the water of Popoyote Lagoon at Playa Linda, Ixtapa, Mexico. cocodrilario crocodile reserve

Now the iguanas, which I find consistently fascinating -- simultaneously mesozoic and medieval, representing great ancientness and evolution, but looking as if he's wearing a knight's suit of chain-mail armor. Though to be sure, any knight wearing such flashy colors on his armor would have been mercilessly teased. This male iguana particular amused me getting all jiggy with this twig. First he looked like he was dancing with it and then he climbed up it and showed me his belly, which I don't normally get to see on these guys who are usually scampering around on the tree limbs. 

Male iguana dancing with a twig in the Popoyote Lagoon at Playa Linda, Ixtapa, Mexico. cocodrilario crocodile reserveMale iguana dancing with a twig in the Popoyote Lagoon at Playa Linda, Ixtapa, Mexico. cocodrilario crocodile reserve

 Traffic jam in the trees! Move it, Bubba!

One iguana crawling over another on the tree branch highway. Popoyote Lagoon, Ixtapa, Mexico.

And now the iguanas want to show off their best sides, too. I definitely consider their tongues one of their best, if slightly creepy, sides.

Male iguana showing his tongue. Popoyote Lagoon, Playa Linda, Ixtapa, Mexico. cocodrilario crocodile reserveMale iguana posing on a tree branch in Popoyote Lagoon at Playa Linda, Ixtapa, Mexico.Young male iguana in a tree branch, Popoyote Lagoon, Ixtapa, Mexico. cocodrilario crocodile reserveYoung male iguana in a tree branch, Popoyote Lagoon, Ixtapa, Mexico.

Just like when I'm in Africa on safari, my favorite photos are always ones in which different species of animals are hanging out together. Here are some brave birds casually strutting along the shore next to the crocodiles. I guess you gotta do your business even in dangerous waters. 

Egret casually strolling through the waters next to a crocodile in Popoyote Lagoon at Playa Linda, Ixtapa, Mexico. cocodrilario crocodile reserveRed billed bird pecking at the sand next to a crocodile at Popoyote Lagoon, Playa Linda, Ixtapa, Mexico. cocodrilario crocodile reserve

A couple other birds to show ... the ubiquitous white egret and the somewhat more rare boat-billed heron. Its cousin the green heron hangs out here, too, but they are typically elusive to me. Maybe next time! 

White egret at Popoyote Lagoon, Ixtapa, Mexico.Boat-billed heron tasting the waters in Popoyote Lagoon at Playa Linda, Ixtapa, Mexico. cocodrilario crocodile reserveBoat-billed heron tasting the waters in Popoyote Lagoon at Playa Linda, Ixtapa, Mexico. cocodrilario crocodile reserveCommon bird at Popoyote Lagoon, Ixtapa, Mexico.

And lastly, a little turtle love. 

Turtles maybe about to kiss at Popoyote Lagoon, Ixtapa, Mexico. cocodrilario crocodile reserve

*

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