Tuesday, April 27, 2021

They're looking at us

 and we're looking at them!  Some of them at any rate.

I led the BBC outing this morning, and it started off kinda slow.  Topinabee, and to a lesser extent Weiser Road, didn't have a ton of activity.

The Niles Riverwalk on the other hand did have migrants.  Dawn spotted this Black-and-white Warbler who looks to be peering back at us...

Continuing the black-and-white theme, my county annual Red-headed Woodpecker was the next bird we saw.

We checked the hawks that flew over after a decent push of broad-wings yesterday.  One was indeed a broad-wing (though the pic is actually from yesterday).

Finally a look at one of the Yellow-rumps I saw as I walked back.

Next week, Chikaming!

Monday, April 19, 2021

Colima Pygmy-Owl

I suppose I could have titled the post My Most Frustrating Great Look at a bird ever.

Evening of Day 3 found us in some dry forest scrub after spending the afternoon driving east towards the border of Oaxaca and Chiapas.  Alex found a couple of Cinnamon-tailed Sparrows, a bird I just could not get a decent look at.  I kept getting an elbow, branch, or head in the way every time I sort of saw the bird.  It didn't help that the little double malar mark, the field mark I'd learned for the bird, was quite a bit harder to see than I expected.

A western type Redtail soared out
I managed to spot a White-tailed Hawk, a bird I thought might be more common than it was.  This individual was the only one we saw.

I don't remember how I managed to lag behind the group a little, I think Alex started playing a tape at a Ferruginous Pygmy Owl that was really far away and I was distracted by something that seemed closer, but when I caught up they were looking at something.  They said it was the pygmy-owl.  It took forever to find the bird, it was quite close but the same color as the dusk lit surroundings and a bit higher than I thought.  Usually I'm pretty good at looking at the angle of people's bins and gauging where to look, but I was failing utterly.  When I eventually found the bird it looked way different that I expected.  Because it wasn't Ferruginous, it was Colima Pygmy-Owl!  Whoops.  Keep up with the group.

We stayed past dark hoping to hear Buff-collared Nightjar, which maybe Alex heard.  Finally a view of one of the Mottled Owls that came in to the Black-and-White track he was playing.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

shadows of the ruins

 Day three found us at the base of an uphill climb along the entrance road to the ruins at Monte Alban.  It proved to be a popular place for the locals and we were passed by a lot of joggers and bikers out to enjoy some exercise before the heat of the day built up.

It was pretty birdy.  We heard a couple of mimics, but the Blue Mockingbird stayed buried pretty deep (but backlit nonetheless) in the brush.

An Ocellated Thrasher started singing well upslope and we enjoyed much closer scope views of the regional specialty than we did on day one ... and then we found another one much closer!

A couple of us heard a vireo singing right at the gate while it was still dark.  I wish I'd recorded it.  It was either Dwarf or this next bird, Slaty Vireo, which (true to theme this morning) stayed deep in the thicket!  It's a white-eyed blue gray bird with olive highlights on the cap, wings and tail in case the pic doesn't really reveal that.

Golden Vireo showed a lot better.  I tried to learn the vireo songs, but I didn't recognize this one at all when it started singing.

Even Dusky Hummingbird kept sticks in the way!
I expected these birds to be very widespread; I think this morning was the only time we saw one!

This Rock Wren in the ruins themselves was one of my favorite pics from the trip.

And a sample view of the ruins.  I've always been surprised how much freedom people are given to walk about these sort of sites in Central American, but I wasn't complaining.
We were short on time so I didn't really put the effort into attempting to translate the signs explaining the limited amounts known about this location believed to have been constructed and inhabited by the Zapotecs 1500-2000 years ago.  Even the original name of the site has been lost...

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Down the mountain

 We'd spent the morning of Day 2 in the pine forest elevation level in Oaxacan highlands.  We spent the midday there too, trying to find Dwarf Jay, a bird whose breeding range is comparable in size to Kirtland's Warb.  It took some doing.  We would occasionally hear Northern Pygmy-Owls, but they were quite hard to see, and it took some walking around and craning our necks upward at different angles before Alex located the bird.

We drove around a bit and stopped for some activity.  Gray-barred Wrens were again calling form the treetops, but this time Alex was able to bring them down

We found Red (which again wouldn't stop for a pic) and Golden-browed Warblers 

Suddenly Warren and I had a jay fly across, it turned out to be a group of 3 or 4 of the Dwarf Jays, which didn't like to come out in the open at all.

I'm not totally sure what this next bird is.
Alex thought it was a young Golden-browed Warbler, but it's not a plumage that's in any of the books.

With success on Dwarf Jay we headed down the mountain, to a thicket of scrub habitat that potentially could hold Dwarf Vireo.  The Vireo's habitat was flooded by the full sun and heat of the late afternoon lowlands and we didn't see many birds, and definitely not the vireo.  A Myarchid flycatcher appeared above us as Alex was taping for the vireo.

I looked with interest since Nutting's Flycatcher is a bird that just reaches Arizona occasionally, and is differentiated from Ash-throated based on how much dark outer color of the tail wraps around the end of the tail.  On this bird ... it's neither, the tail's mostly dark with some lighter color along the feather shaft.  I realized it was a Dusky-capped Flycatcher, which Alex pointed out was in the background of the vireo tape he was playing.  Well, at least something responded.

Finally a little empid we found.
With the big teardrop behind the eye it's clearly not one of our Eastern empids, and I was suspecting it was Cordilleran.  I forget why Alex said it couldn't be Cordy, but the entirely pale lower mandible eliminates most of the other Western empids ... so, what's left.  Oh yeah, Mexican empids, because we were in Mexico! It's a Pine Flycatcher, a bird that actually lives next to, but not in pines, so perfect!

Friday, April 2, 2021

Oaxacan pines

After watching Fulvous Owls pre-dawn, sunrise found us in some pine forest at pretty reasonable elevation.  The birds had changed over completely from the desert of the day before and Brown-backed Solitaires serenaded us.  They weren't quite as musical as the Black-faced Solitaires in Costa Rica, but they were a lot easier to find!

They mostly didn't come down low, the only one I found at eyelevel was still in deep unlit gloom

We worked pretty hard for a bit to find Gray-barred Wren, but would see it much better in the afternoon, as well as for one of the jays, but it didn't show at all in the morning.  Warblers instead were the star of the morning.

Crescent-chested is a relative of our Parula

Next up is one of my favorite birds of the trip, Golden-browed Warbler

It seemed like an oddly localized bird, a relative of Rufous-capped Warbler.  But unlike Rufous-capped, which ranges from Arizona to Colombia, Golden-browed is limited pretty much just to southern Mexico and northern Central America.

And one more warbler, we had a chance at seeing every member of the Black-throated green group on this trip.  I'd only seen one Hermit Warbler previously, and didn't manage a photo, so I was happy to see this one.
Birds are a lot easier to photograph when they're not halfway up a sequoia!

Would we see the others?  Stay tuned...