Friday, August 7, 2015
Chiapas: La Sepultura, The Finale
As a reader, many of you are thinking I should be done with blog posts on this one day field trip! Well, it was so special that if I tried to make it all one post, most would have gotten bored very quickly when reading it due to the shear length. So this will be my third and final blog post on this remarkable day.
We left the pond and traveled just a short distance up the road where we stopped to try for another bird that had been located during scouting trips. But along the way, I had the opportunity to view some Blue-black Grassquits. This is a bird I had seen on the El Ocote trip, but since that day was probably my worst day of birding, this time I got to see them and enjoy them and actually get some photos of them. They are definitely blue/black!!!
Now back to the bird we were going to try finding, a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl. It was found before our gathering and was found on most of the other trips. I think it was missed on one trip. It took a while but it finally called from a distance and it eventually moved close to the road. This is one of the rarest owls to find in Arizona, but they are fairly common in Chiapas. A very limited range in Arizona, usually near the Organ Pipe National Monument and access to that area has been sketchy in the past. I still want to try locating one in Arizona, but that will have to wait until my retirement becomes effective and when I have more time to devote to bird trips. These owls are small at a little under 7" in length and can go undetected very easily.
From there, we moved up the road a few miles and then traveled down a dirt road that was lined with small ponds of water and trees that were covered in heavy vegetation. We had to be near some open water as the sky was filled with many water birds including Magnificent Frigatebirds. This is an unmistakable bird in flight with its long forked tail and long, thin wings. They are sometimes known as pirates of the sea as they will often harass other birds in flight hoping the other birds will disgorge anything they have eaten, then the frigatebirds will swoop down and catch the regurgitated spoils in flight.
Magnificent Frigatebird - Male
Magnificent Frigatebird - Female
Magnificent Frigatebird - most likely a juvenile male
At one point we actually witnessed one harassing a Great Egret. Don't think it had any luck in its quest to get a meal, but it was really a neat experience to watch. Unfortunately, it was a bit too far for great photos, but I had to try and capture some of the action.
Magnificent Frigatebird & Great Egret
Another life bird that I got to add to my list was the Wood Stork as one was flying over. I really want to see this bird better than a fly-over and will probably have to make trip to the Gulf Coast to do so. We also had a fly over Anhinga but it was a bit further away and I had trouble getting it into focus on my camera.
Finally our day was drawing to an end and as we walked up the dirt road to our van, I heard a chip note in the roadside bushes that sounded a lot like the single chip note of the Verdin that is so common in Arizona, but I knew it was not. Kind of an unexpected last minute new life bird for us was the Stripe-headed Sparrow. A rather large sparrow with a large bill and quite attractive at that.
With this last planned trip, our tours had come to an end, but Chris and I had extended our stay for 2 additional days while most of the crowd headed home. And I am very glad we did (it was Chris's idea in the first place) as we got more photos and a few more birds on our own. I have a couple more blog posts planned and they will have some more cool birds included.