Fan-tailed Warbler

Fan-tailed Warbler

Monday, August 17, 2015

Chiapas: All Great Things Must Come to an End

Here it is, almost a month since I returned from my first birding trip to the tropics to the state of Chiapas, Mexico and I am finally getting around to my last post from this almost overwhelming birding trip.  What is cool, is the fact that it keeps these memories fresh in my mind.  I ended up with 121 new life birds on this trip, which I will probably never attain a number like that again in one trip.  We visited several spots in Chiapas, and there are several of them that I would like to revisit if I could, but the chances of that happening is pretty slim.  Haven't won a lottery and probably never will.  I guess you have to purchase tickets to actually win!

Anyway, Chris and I, were down to our last day in Chiapas as we were to head out on Friday morning for our return to Arizona.  We decided another trip to El Sumidero might be our best choice.  It was an outstanding spot on the first trip with a guide and it was local so we could get a taxi to take us there at a very reasonable price.  We arrived at the front gate and paid our very low priced entry fee and took off on foot, walking up the road.  Interestingly, there had been rain showers in the early morning and our walk was strange.  We had sunshine, then a cloud would move in to give us fog and then it would clear.  This happened off and on during our walk.  I ended up adding 3 more life birds on this final day, the first was a Mangrove Cuckoo that gave us a good view, but took flight before we were able to even raise our cameras.  

Once again, Russet-crowned Motmots were seen and heard  and a couple of them perched out on some dead limbs in order to dry their feathers from the early morning rain.  What a cool bird and one I enjoyed watched and listening to at many of the locations we visited.  

 Russet-crowned Motmot

Early in our walk, we had the pleasure of a Plain Chachalaca landing in a nearby tree.  

Plain Chachalaca

On our first trip here, we had several Streak-backed Orioles, but they were not having anything to do with us, so we were also targeting this bird to hopefully get photos on this trip.  We succeeded but they definitely did not make it easy.

 Streak-backed Oriole

As we worked our way up the road some fog moved in, and was obscuring our vision a bit, but a glance at a curve on the road ahead caught our attention and I immediately knew what it was, even in the fog; a Lesser Roadrunner.  I am very familiar with their close relative in the cuckoo family, the Greater Roadrunner in Arizona.  About that quick it flew off the road into vegetation when a car drove by.  We thought we had seen an all too familiar brief glimpse of this bird.  However, that was not the case as we walked up the road to where it had been and as I was scanning the vegetation, I spied it not 20 feet off the side of the road in a tree.  And it was very cooperative for us and allowed a long look and some photos.  What cool new bird and the 2nd new lifer of the day!

 Lesser Roadrunner

We finally were able to get some better views of the White-lored Gnatcatcher that we had seen on earlier field trips.  One of the benefits of keeping the numbers of people low, is the fact that there is less commotion and sometimes birds are a bit more accommodating to views and photos.

 White-lored Gnatcatcher - Male

 White-lored Gnatcatcher - Female

A bit further up the road we fond a spot where a couple of birds were quite agitated.  By this time we were in the fog again, but it dispersed enough to get some photos of the Banded Wren and the Grey-crowned Yellowthroat.  The yellowthroat was my third life bird of the day and the last one of my trip.

 Banded Wren

Gray-crowned Yellowthroat

Just before we headed back down the road to the entrance of El Sumidero, we encountered a sparrow that was a bit puzzling to us.  The only sparrow we had seen on our earlier trip was many Olive Sparrows along this road.  This was definitely not an Olive Sparrow, in fact it was a juvenile which make an identification a bit more tricky since most field guides only show adults in their illustrations.  But we quickly figured it out, it is a Rusty Sparrow, juvenile.  I had seen one earlier on one of our guided tours, but failed to get any photos, so this was redemption time for me.

 Rusty Sparrow - Juvenile

On the return we also had a Canivet's Emerald female along the road sipping nectar out of some very dark purple (almost black) tubular blossoms.  It was nice to see a female since I had seen a male earlier.

 Canivet's Emerald - Female

Bidding adieu to Mexico was bittersweet.  I was definitely ready to go home and recuperate and then reflect on what an awesome trip this was for me as a birder.  Luckily, Chris had opted to go as well and it was great to have him along with his knowledge of the Spanish language to help guide me and get around.  There is so much more to explore in Mexico and some of it is not far from where I live so I can see some future day or weekend trips.  If finances (and Health) allow, I would love to visit many other spots in the tropics in the future.  I have already decided that a basic course in Spanish is on my agenda in the near future to assist me in getting around. 

With that, I will leave this string of blog posts with one last photo of another butterfly.  I believe this is Variable Cracker butterfly.  What an intricate and beautiful pattern!

 Variable Cracker Butterfly



  1. Such unique birds! And what a bunch of Lifers for you! No wonder you want to go back! Beautiful, beautiful birds.
    Thanks for sharing your great photos and report!

    1. Thanks Babs! Just wish I could afford more trips like this. I will have to be frugal and save up for them!

  2. We will go back again. It's easy:) But you and I will plan the trip together and make it happen. It starts with a dream bird and then everything that surrounds it. For example, my dream bird before I die is the Harpy Eagle. That means a trip to Panama is in order and specifically to the Darien Gap. Gamboa, Panama City......Gordon, you will love it! And the American dollar. It's a magical place. I believe it's where all New World Birds began. There are another 100 life birds waiting for you:)

    1. Chris,
      I am definitely interested, but will need to plan for another visit. It is going to tough for me to reach the 700 club in the US, so I will need to step out and across the borders.

    2. Yes you will:) Martin said something to me that stuck inside my head from this trip. His goal in life is to really bird the hell out of the Americas. And to be honest, it is a very achievable goal. Ten thousand birds is crazy.....but the Americas, it's where we study and where can relatively travel fairly easy. There's enough here within a lifetime to really keep a birder busy....and perhaps this is a realistic goal for this lifetime:) I know you'd love Panama:)

  3. It was great seeing all your lovely photos, Gordon. Congrats on so many lifers in one trip.