Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Chiapas: La Sepultura Again! Reaching 600 After Hitting 500 Only 5 Days Earlier

After finding the really cool buntings earlier in the day along the road, we then got a bit of a rest before reaching our next destination that was just a few miles from the Pacific Coast.  Once again, we have to thank our fantastic guides, Francesca Albini and Matt Hale, as they had led this trip a couple times earlier and had scouted this area in advance.  Our 'hot spot' for the next stop was a small roadside pond in the grassland coastal plains.  Had I been driving on this road, it could have beeDn easily overlooked and I might have driven right by.  But our guides knew better!

Just a short 5 days before, I had talllied my 500th bird the Altamira Oriole on my first day in Tuxtla and as I got off the van at this small roadside pond, my lifelist stood at 598.  The first bird that caught my eye at this pond was the Bare-throated Tiger-Heron giving me my 599th bird.  My next bird was the Northern Jacana which was a new milestone and my 600th bird.  In all I added 8 new birds to my life list at this pond alone.  

We will start out with the Bare-throated Tiger-Heron which caught my eye immediately due to how big it was.  What a great looking bird!  We observed 2 of them for some time; sometimes posing, sometimes crouching for the hunt, and at least once acting a little silly like it was sunning itself.

Bare-throated Tiger-Heron

The Northern Jacana did not want to look me in the eye, but that was OK with me as getting photo of one with its wings spread was a quite impressive sight.  They are gorgeous and a great bird for number 600.

Northern Jacana

We also had the fortune of finding 2 species of seedeaters as well; the White-collared Seedeater and the Ruddy-breasted Seedeater.  The White-collared was definitely a bit more cooperative than the Ruddy-breasted, but seeing both and observing their behavior was very enjoyable and educational.

White-collared Seedeater

Ruddy-breasted Seedeater - Male & Female

In one respect this place was no different than many of the other spots we had visited; we had to have some species of flycatchers.  And our newest flycatcher was a really cool looking one, with a funny name; the Common Tody-Flycatcher.  With its long and flat bill, yellow throat, breast and belly, and then those awesome light yellow eyes, this is a cool looking flycatcher.

 Common Tody-Flycatcher

One more bird that visited this same tree was the Rose-throated Becard.  This bird appears in almost all the US bird guides as it has been seen in extreme southern Texas and extreme southern Arizona.  I think it has been several years since the last report in Arizona, but I do know that a nest had been found in northern Sonora, Mexico only about 50 miles southeast of Nogales, Arizona.  I was always hoping that some day one would show up in AZ and if it did I was going to probably chase it.  We actually had a pair show up; a male and a female.

 Rose-throated Becard - Male

 Rose-throated Becard - Female

Rose-throated Becard - Male

One final new life bird to add to this post is the Giant Wren, another endemic where its range is found only in Chiapas along the Pacific Coast.  This is very unlike most wrens, first because of its large size and secondly, it is decked out in solid colors instead of speckled like most other wrens.  While they did not approach real close for great photos, I can say that we also discovered one of their nests at a distance, so that makes up for it.  This was another cool bird!

 Giant Wren

Giant Wren

Even with all the new birds I got to add to my list and even finally getting some photographs, I did see a few familiar faces among these new birds, such as Tropical Kingbird, Crested Caracara, and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks; all of which can be found in Arizona.

 Tropical Kingbird

 Crested Caracara

Crested Caracara

Black-bellied Whistling Duck

During this entire time we were thoroughly entertained with some Caiman that inhabited this small pond as well.


This day is not yet complete.  Stay tuned, there will be one more post on this fabulous day of birding and great company.


  1. These birds are great, Gordon! That Heron is tops, Jacana is cool too! Wow 600 birds, congrats.

    To me, the Motmot would be my most wanted..

    1. Thank Tommy,
      You would have really enjoyed this trip. The motmots definitely are a cool groups of birds and they are fun to watch especially when they wag their tails and their calls are so different. Some are definitely easier to find and see, but some are pretty secretive.

  2. This was a great place. Probably the most exciting stop along with the estuary. Had you and I gone further into that estuary we would have added lots more birds! I want to go back to that spot, Ocote, and San Cristobal and spend a week in each. What an incredible area of birds! That pond was TOPS! Thanks for taking me back to a most awesome day.

    1. This day trip was the best of all in my opinion (we saved the best for last) for a couple of reasons; fewer people and great weather. Fewer people resulted in better and longer looks at many of the birds and the better weather resulted in better opportunities for longer and better observations which also led to better photo ops. I really liked this spot and would have had more time to actually get to the coast and see some gulls and who know what else. Thanks for the great memories Chris!