Sunday, August 22, 2010

Birding in Mexico: Part 2

From the Durango Highway we headed to San Blas, Mexico. If you ever think about going to San Blas in the late summer I would suggest you reconsider. San Blas has the perfect mix of humidity and mosquitoes to make anyone give up on birding within a few hours. However the birds we did have were some of the coolest birds of the trip. We were able to get great looks at hard to find species such as Rosy Thrush-Tanager, Lesser Ground-Cuckoo, and Collared Forest-Falcon.

The best part about the San Blas area was a boat trip we took through the mangroves. We went out in the evening and had great looks at our two targets-Boat-billed Heron and Northern Potoo. We also saw many other species of birds and quite a few crocodiles.

Snail Kite

This is the front of the boat that we went out into the mangroves in. All of the birds were comfortable around the boat so we got close views of many species.

From San Blas we headed down to the Volcan del Fuego area. The highlight was seeing Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireos. We also had some good luck with Balsas Screech-Owl which we were able to get great looks at. One of the coolest sightings of the trip were finding 2 Beaded Lizards together. If you don't know what they look like, they are very similar to Gila Monsters.

Volcan del Fuego: some beautiful mountains

Iguana-a common sight throughout much of Mexico

Boat-billed Heron-This is one of the most interesting looking birds. Look at that bill!

Black-chested Sparrow-One of the coolest sparrows that I have seen.

Bare-throated Tiger Heron-This was one of the tame birds we saw while on the boat.

Banded Quail along the road.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Birding in Mexico

Well, I made it back from Mexico with nothing more than a stomach bug, in my opinion that is definitely a positive. Believe it or not, no matter what the news wants us to think of Mexico, not every person down there is out to get americans.

Some of the Highlights:

Watching Thick-billed Parrots and Eared Quetzals in the same tree, out in the open.

Seeing the mountains along the Durango Highway.

Watching Tufted Jays-one of the coolest birds of Mexico.

Seeing my first woodcreeper-a White-striped.

Seeing my first motmot-a Russet-crowned.

Camping along a road and realizing at about 2 am that there was a logging road right next to it-The trucks are really loud and sounded like they were going to run over our tents.

Seeing my first macaw-a Military.

Tufted Jay-One of the most beautiful birds in Mexico.

Thick-billed Parrot-an endemic parrot of northeast Mexico.

Russet-crowned Motmot-look at that tail!

Red-headed Tanager-One of the most beautiful birds I have ever seen.

Red-breasted Chat

Eared Quetzal out in the open. They were unbelievably cooperative.

A view from the Durango Highway.

A very cooperative Berryline Hummingbird.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Day at Goose Pond

On Sunday, Steph and I left our house at 5 am and headed downtown to pick up our friends Ted and Cindy for a day trip to Goose Pond FWA in Greene County. I have been there many times and it is one of my favorite place to bird. I hadn't been down there yet this summer so there where many new birds for me to see for the year.

We started off on Farmhouse Drive. We immediately heard many Sedge Wrens singing. A little farther down the road I found a female Bobolink flying over. Another highlight was a small covey of Northern Bobwhites. We continued on to some other units and added great looks at Blue Grosbeaks and Dickcissels. As we drove down the road, Ted noticed 3 raptors off the to right. We stopped and found that they were the family of Northern Harriers that had recently been reported from the area.

Looking of Main Pool West

Our next stop was by the Tern Island to look for herons and egrets. While we struck out on Little Blue Heron, we were able to add a Snowy Egret to our list. Since we were done birding at Goose Pond, we made a detour on the way home to visit a Mississippi Kite nest. It didn't take us long to locate the nest and find one almost fully grown chick in it. It was a fantastic day to be in the field and we all had a great time in the beautiful weather.

Mississippi Kite on Nest


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Birding the California Gulch

Montana Peak-There are great views of this peak on the way into the California Gulch.

If you have ever birded in southeast Arizona or have read about the birding locations in this region you have probably heard of the California Gulch. It is the only known location for Five-striped Sparrows in the US that isn't a long hike. Many people hire guides to go into this location and many people give warnings about going into the Gulch alone or after rains. For the most part birders are overstating the difficulty of birding this location. The times that this location is difficult to get to is when there has been a lot of rain because there are many creek crossings on the way.

I decided to go in through Nogales, AZ because I wanted to stop by Pena Blanca Lake, where Least Grebes had been reported. The road is paved all the way to the lake so the drive didn't take long. When I arrived at the lake I realized I didn't really know which part of the lake the grebes had been using the most but I was able to find them after a short search. The grebes seemed to be building a nest in a fallen tree on the lake so they were difficult to find at first but I had great views once I found them.

The trail down into the California Gulch.

From the lake it is about a 45 minute drive to the Five-striped Sparrows. It's not that far, mileage wise, but you have to take it slow on the road in to the sparrows. When I got to the gulch, I started my hike to the bottom thinking it might take a while to find the sparrows since I was there at 3pm. Within a couple hundred feet a Five-striped started singing and eventually t'd up to allow good looks.

A Five-striped.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Killing Time in Southeast Arizona

Since Rob flew back to Indianapolis, I have been spending some more time in southeast Arizona. After dropping him off at the airport, I headed back to the Huachuca Mountains. Since Arizona is so hot and many of the great birds of Arizona can be seen at high elevations I camped at the Reef Campground in Carr Canyon.

The birding was great and I spent the better part of the next 3 days birding the area as well.

Just a few of the highlights from Carr and Miller Canyons:
-Seeing at least 3 individual White-eared Hummingbirds at Beatty's in Miller Canyon-this is the only known location for White-eared Hummingbird in the US right now.
-Finding a Buff-breasted Flycatcher nest not too far from my camp.
-Being awoken by a Spotted Owl at 4:30 am.
-Watching a Hepatic Tanager catch and eat a bee.
-Having flocks of warblers feeding next to my tent including Red-faced, Virginia's, Black-throated Gray, and Grace's Warbler and Painted Redstart.

White-eared Hummingbird-one of the males

Red-faced Warbler-this species tends to be tame and comes in low to feed.
Hepatic Tanager-A male eating a bee.
Buff-breasted Flycatcher-A nest that was well hidden even though it is directly over the road.

Buff-breasted Flycatcher

I will be heading to Mexico on the 1st and if all goes well we will make it down to Colima. Hopefully we will hit on all our targets and get a few pics while we are at it.