Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Chiapas, Mexico - Let the Field Trips Begin!
We had 5 field trips lined up with excellent leaders for the next 5 days and on each day, we had the opportunity to explore certain areas with different leaders. Luck of the draw gave us the first group to be going to the nearby charming city of San Cristóbal east of Tuxtla. At an altitude of about 7200 feet higher than Tuxtla it put us in a pine-oak rain forest. Our guide, Alberto, had scouted this area in advance and had received permission from some of the native people of Mayan descent to do some exploring on some of their property. A couple of them even assisted our search and we are indebted to these people in allowing us this opportunity. These are not lands that people can easily access without permission.
Our target bird was the stunning Pink-headed Warbler. This bird is endemic to Chiapas and parts of Guatemala and is listed by IUCN as 'vulnerable' due to habitat loss. The unfortunate part of our visit was that it rained most of the morning, so camera and photography gear was kept under wraps to avoid the moisture. The good part was the fact that we saw about 6 of these stunning birds. I would have loved to obtain my own photo of this bird, but I was not able to do so. I checked out the photo on Wikipedia and was shocked to find the photo being used in Wikipedia is by someone that I know and have birded with in the past, Dominic Sherony. What a coincidence and I was happy to see his photo being used on the Wikipedia's site. I contacted Dominic to ask permission to use his photo in my blog and he was gracious enough to allow me to use his photo. One has to see a photo of this bird to truly appreciate it. Thank you Dominic for allowing me to use your great photo!!!
Pink-headed Warbler - Photo by Dominic Sherony
We also had really great visuals of another new bird for me, the Yellowish Flycatcher. I caught a glimpse of one earlier when we had several warblers in one spot and it struck me as a 'Western' type flycatcher from what I could see; a bit similar to Cordilleran or Pacific-sloped that we see in Arizona. Once the guide saw it he was quick to identify it as the Yellowish Flycatcher. By that time the rain had subsided a bit and I was able to capture a bad photo of 2 of them together.
Yellowish Flycatcher (What an original name!)
After visiting this unique habitat, we then moved and explored one of the local parks where they had a hummingbird feeder set up that was vigorously being defended by an Amythest-throated Hummingbird. This is another new and beautiful bird for me. By hummingbird standards, this is a rather large hummer about the same size as the Magnificent Hummingbird seen in Arizona.
The interesting thing about this one and its defense of the feeder was that the 2 species it was chasing off were a couple specie we have right here in Arizona; the Magnificent Hummingbird and the smaller but awesome White-eared Hummingbird.
While photos were few and far between, it was still a very productive day as I was able to add 15 new species to my life list, even if the rain put a damper on some of the birding.
Will sign off from this post by adding a few other photos that were taken with my iPhone that help to show the uniqueness of this magical place with its forest and many trees draping with bromeliads.