Sunday, August 9, 2015
Chiapas: A Day of Rest ???
Our 5 days of guided field trips had finally come to an end and most of the group were all headed home the next day. But Chris, being the wise man that he is, had suggested when we booked our airline flights to maybe spend a couple extra days while we were there to do some birding on our own. And I agreed and it ended up being a very wise decision. We were exhausted from the 5 daily field trips So we decided to take it easy on the first of our 2 free days. A day of rest? Not!! No, we did not sleep all day, but had decided to check out a park across the street from our motel and maybe anything else within walking distance from the motel.
During our entire stay so far, we had been surrounded by at least 2 species of parrots flying overhead and around the neighborhood of the motel. We knew we had Green Parakeets and White-fronted Parrots, but we were never able to get very close for photos of either one. Well that was about to change for both species. We had already figured out how to identify both species in flight; the Green Parakeets had long pointed tails, while the White-fronted Parrot had a short rounded tail. Before we got across the street a pair of Green Parakeets flew into one of the trees on our side of the street. This is the tropics and there are many species of parrots and parakeets that are native to the tropics.
Once we got to the park we quickly discovered White-fronted Parrots everywhere feeding in the trees. Some were feeding on mangoes that were thick in the trees. Thankfully these birds were quite gregarious and noisy which helped to give away their location. Had they not been so noisy, they would have been easy to overlook and hide in the green leaves since their basic color was green.
One of the most common birds that we saw in Chiapas at just about everyplace we went was the Clay-colored Thrush. They remind me of a brown American Robin in behavior and structure. They do not sound like our robin in the US though, as they have a varied repertoire of calls. They are so common that one person referred to them as Clay-colored Trash. A few have been reported in the United States over the years, and when then do, they are quite the hot commodity for listers to get on their US bird list.
Going to this park is a great way to get photos of some of the birds, because the ones that frequent these places are accustomed to humans and are more tolerant and allow for better photo opportunities. Such is the case with the Great Kiskadee. We had heard and seen them on a couple of the field trips, but here, I was able to observe them, listen to them and get some photos. This is another bird who's range extends to southern Texas in the United States, but it was new to me.
(Update: Thankfully I have some faithful and very excellent birders reading my blog. This next photo, I had mis-identified as Great Kiskadee, but instead they are Boat-billed Flycatchers. I had seen this species on the trip to Sumidero, but did not get any photos, so I am glad, this photo has now been corrected with the proper ID. Thank you Francesca and Jeanette!)
We also found a pair of White-throated Magpie-Jays which I had seen on some earlier trips, and since it is such a unique bird, I had to take some more photos.
We also had a few birds that we have in Arizona that were a bit more photogenic. Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher is annually regular in southeastern Arizona in the right habitat, but not always easy to photograph. The Plain-capped Starthroat is being seen pretty much annually in southeast AZ as well, but definitely not a common bird and much rarer than the Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher. The Groove-billed Ani is pretty rare in Arizona, but one does show up every few years.
Up in the trees above the river that flowed through the park we discovered a pair of iguanas. I am not 100% certain of the species, but I believe these are called Green Iguana. They are quite large, probably close to 4' long.
And I just have to share one butterfly with everyone on this post; a Malachite butterfly that was attracted to the remaining flesh on a mango pit that had been discarded by one of the parrots.
After the park, we did take a break for a while at the motel, but later in the day, we headed out and down the busy street to the west for a late lunch and surprisingly, some more birds in this humanity. These will be covered in my next blog post.