March 2004 Field Journal

3.7 Snow Bunting
Today, I drove out to Byron and found the SNOW BUNTING remarkably cooperative. Below is one of many fine photos of the bird:

Snow Bunting ©2004 Mark W. Eaton

3.13 - 3.21 Veracruz and Central Mexico
Kevin McKereghan, Paul Saraceni and I did 5 days in Veracruz, with Kevin and I continuing for another two days to Central Mexico.

Kevin's detailed trip report for the latter portion of the trip follows:

La Cima: (N 19º 06.355’, W 99º 11.837’): Morning 3.20/21.04
The turn off (per Howell) is obvious, although unposted. We drove in a 1/4 mile and parked. The area is a patchwork of plowed (and burned) fields, volcanic jumbles covered in bunch grass and pine groves. There are also some forested hill tops which we did not visit.

Striped Sparrow and Yellow-eyed Junco are abundant. It took several minutes in the morning (which was quite chilly in mid-March) to locate the Sierra Madre Sparrow. Unlike the other sparrows it didn't seem to like to be out in the open and would only stay out for a minute at a time. However we were able to see at least 5 individuals and get very nice looks. Other birds in the area included American Robin, American Pipit, Western Bluebird, Western Meadowlark, Cooper’s Hawk, Northern (Red-shafted) Flicker, Stellar’s Jay, Chipping Sparrow and Pine Siskin. Greater Pewee and Brown-backed Solitaire were heard but not seen. The wind picked up quickly as the sun rose, and we headed off to the turn-off beyond La Cima.

Although Howell lists the next stop as 1.5km beyond the La Cima turn-off we were unable to find a dirt road at precisely that location. However there are a number of roads between La Cima and 2km to try. These areas were characterized by plowed fields. open pinelands with bunch grass and large thickets of flowering Gooseberry (?) and other shrubs.  The thickets in particular supported a nice variety of bird species. Although many of the species were familiar from the Western US, several had races that were quite distinct. Both the Brown Creeper and the Spotted Towhee were notably different. The Spotted Towhee especially , in that its upperparts were greenish with yellow spots (ssp macronyx).

Others seen were; Black-headed Grosbeak, Violet-green Swallow, Hairy Woodpecker, Pygmy Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Bush Tit (Black-eared), Ruby-crowned Kinglet, House Wren (Brown-throated), House Finch, Hutton’s Vireo, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, and Red-tailed Hawk. Birds of a more Southwestern, or Mexican flavor included Buff-breasted Flycatcher, Slate-throated Redstart, Red Warbler, Blue-hooded Euphonia, Scott’s Oriole and White-eared Hummingbird. The notable miss was Strickland’s Woodpecker.

We returned to this area the following morning to better study a number of unidentified hummer s and to try again for the Strickland’s. We dipped on the Woodpecker but added these species; Green Violet-ear, Mexican Chickadee, Merlin (ssp richardsonii),, Magnificent Hummingbird and Calliope Hummingbird.

The road beyond Huitzilac: Midday 3.20.04
Following the driving instructions to the Lerma Marshes from Tres Marias we stopped at several pullouts along the road (markers 4-7km) beyond the town of Huitzilac and found them to be quite birding. naturally some more so than others. Birds seen here included: Black-backed Oriole, Chestnut-sided Shrike-vireo, Green-striped Brush-finch, Gray Silky, Warbling Vireo, Slate-throated Redstart, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Crescent-chested Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Townsend Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Spotted Towhee, White-throated Robin, Sharp-shinned Hawk, and White-eared Hummingbird. We heard Flame-colored Tanager and Brown-backed Solitaire. We also had glimpses of a female Lampornis

Hummingbird. Although the list is short, the views we had of the Brush-finch, Oriole and Shrike-Vireo were unsurpassed with the birds being close and in view for extended periods.

The Lerma Marshes( N 10º 09.076’, W 99º 29.302’ –turnoff of main road): Afternoon 3.20.04
Again Howell’s directions get us there. The drive through the mountains is quite nice, though the farming area below leave something to be desired. We drove out the dike road until the reed beds were closer to the road (roughly .25km) and pulled off (there is ample room in most places to pull fully off the road).  There is a lot of human activity along the marsh edges, but bird numbers were still pretty high. Initial species seen include; American Coot, Common Moorhen, Cattle Egret, Great Egret, White-faced Ibis, Song Sparrow, Barn Swallow, Lesser Yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Baird’s Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Sora, Blue-winged Teal, Killdeer, Wilson’s Snipe, Ruddy Duck and Northern Harrier. We had no yellowthroats at our first stop, though he did have some fun with a couple of local kids, and moved further along the dike.  At about .75km we found an area we could walk down to the reeds at and stopped there. Initially we found Northern Waterthrush, and a very uncooperative ‘yellowthroat sp’, but eventually we had a Black-polled Yellowthroat. We drove several more km around the marsh ticking off Virginia Rail, King Rail, 7 Soras at once, Marsh Wren, Yellow-headed, Brewer’s, Red-winged and ‘bi-coloredBlackbirds, Bronzed and Brown-headed Cowbirds, Savannah Sparrow and Canyon Towhee. We 2 more Black-polled Yellowthroats and several Common Yellowthroats as well.

Though the bird life was good, we couldn't help but wonder where the insects and frogs were. There are muskrats though, as we watched two dogs dig one out and eat it.

Curenavaca Morning 3.21.04
Due to the hotel parking lot being used as additional parking for the garage next door, we were unable to extract our car until after 7am. We birded the hotel grounds (minimal though they were and found some good birds. Top of the list was Russet-crowned Motmot, which perched on a chain link fence for 5 minutes. Also seen were Rufous-backed Robin, Bullock’s Oriole, Black-throated Green, Yellow-rumped and Nashville Warblers.

Coajomulco (N 19º 01.738’, W 99º 13.051’): Morning 3.21.04
We were not entirely clear which particular pull off or wooded area Howell was referring to, but the general location looked good. As soon as we had pulled off it was clear that there was a lot of action on the east side of the road, in a well grazed pasture area ringed by thickets. There was a number of bushes fruiting at that location and a large flock of Gray-Silkys was moving in and out of the bushes feeding.  Also seen were; Greater Pewee, American and White-throated Robins, Flame-colored Tanager, Black-headed Siskin, Lesser Goldfinch (black-backed race), Black-headed Grosbeak, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Spotted and Canyon Towhees, Hutton’s and Blue-headed Vireos, Black-throated Green, Black-and-whiteRed, Yellow-rumped, Orange-crowned,and Nashville Warblers, Buff-breasted Flycatcher and Mexican Jay. Eventually the flocks dispersed and we crossed the road and investigated down the hill in more wooded areas. Although the birding was not as rapid fire we did find Crescent-chested and Wilson’s Warbler, Slate-throated Redstart, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Brown Creeper, White-striped Woodcreeper, Olive Warbler, Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer and Gray-barred Wrens. It should be noted that we never really got more than  200 yds from the roadway.

Some of the highlights in no particular order:

Pinnated Bittern, ©2004 Mark W. Eaton

Prehensile-tailed Porcupine ©2004 Kevin McKereghan

Additional photos and color may be found here.

Trip location codes:
Code Date Location
AM 14-Mar Amatlan
LB 14-Mar Los Barrancas
AL 14-Mar Alvarado
PA 14-Mar Playa Azul
MP 15-Mar R.M.O. Pipicipan
RC 15-Mar Road to Coyame
PA 15-Mar Playa Azul
UN 16-Mar UNAM Station
BA 16-Mar Las Barras
BP 17-Mar Bottling Plant
UX 17-Mar Uxpanapa Road
UX 18-Mar Uxpanapa Road
VE 18-Mar Drive to Veracruz
AM 19-Mar Amatlan
CM 20-21 Mar Cuernavaca and environs

Avian trip results as follows:
313 Species
Species Location Notes
Great Tinamou UN Heard only
Thicket Tinamou AM Heard only
Slaty-breasted Tinamou MP, UN, UX Heard only
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck BA, BP, VE
Blue-winged Teal AL, VE, CM
Lesser Scaup PA
Ruddy Duck CM
Plain Chachalaca AM, MP, RC, UX
Crested Guan MP Heard only
Least Grebe RC, PA, BA, BP
Pied-billed Grebe LB, RC, BA, CM
Brown Pelican AL, UN
Neotropic Cormorant AL, LB, PA, RC, X
Magnificent Frigatebird LB, AL, UN, BA
Pinnated Bittern BA
Great Blue Heron LB, AL, UX
Great Egret LB, AL, RC, PA, CM, X
Snowy Egret LB, RC, PA
Little Blue Heron LB, AL, BA
Tricolored Heron AL, RC, BA
Cattle Egret LB, AL, CM, X
Green Heron AL, PA, RC, BA, X
Black-crowned Night-Heron PA, RC, BP
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron AL
White Ibis AL, BA
White-faced Ibis AL, BA, CM
Roseate Spoonbill VE MWE not observed
Wood Stork UX
Black Vulture LB, AM, AL, CM, X
Turkey Vulture LB, AL, AM, CM, X
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture LB, AL, BA
Osprey AL, UX, UE
White-tailed Kite AL
Snail Kite LB, AL, PA, BA, VE
Northern Harrier LB
Sharp-shinned Hawk CM
Cooper's Hawk CM
White Hawk UN
Gray Hawk AM, AL, MP, RC, X
Common Black-Hawk LB, UN
Great Black-Hawk LB
Roadside Hawk LB, AL, PA, UN, BA, X
Broad-winged Hawk VE
Short-tailed Hawk AM
Red-tailed Hawk CM
Collared Forest-Falcon MP, BP Heard only
Crested Caracara LB, AL, UX
Laughing Falcon AM, RC, BP, UX, AM
American Kestrel AL, BA, UX, VE
Merlin CM
Aplomado Falcon AL, LB
Bat Falcon UX
Ruddy Crake BP
King Rail CM
Virginia Rail CM
Sora BP, CM
Purple Gallinule BP
Common Moorhen AL, RC, BP, CM
American Coot CM
Limpkin AL
Double-striped Thick-knee LB, VE
Killdeer AL, CM
Black-necked Stilt AL, UN, VE
Northern Jacana LB, AL, RC, BA, BP
Greater Yellowlegs AL, UN
Lesser Yellowlegs AL, UN, CM
Solitary Sandpiper CM
Spotted Sandpiper UN, BA
Least Sandpiper AL, CM
Baird's Sandpiper CM
Pectoral Sandpiper AL, CM
Wilson's Snipe CM
Laughing Gull AL, PA, RC, BA, BP
Royal Tern LB, AL, BA
Forster's Tern LB, BP
Rock Pigeon X
Red-billed Pigeon AL, PA, RC, X
Short-billed Pigeon UN, UX Heard only
Mourning Dove CM
Inca Dove LB, AL, RC, UN, BA, VE
Common Ground-Dove LB MWE not observed
Ruddy Ground-Dove LB, UN, BA, UX, AM
Blue Ground-Dove UX
White-tipped Dove AM, MP, UN, BP, X
Gray-headed [Dove] Quail-Dove UX Heard only
Olive-throated Parakeet UX
White-crowned Parrot AM, UX
Red-lored Parrot AM, UN, BA
Squirrel Cuckoo AM, RC, UN, UX
Groove-billed Ani LB, UN
Central American Pygmy-Owl UX Heard only
Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl AM, UN, BA
Mottled Owl PA, RC
Black-and-white Owl UN
Common Pauraque MP, UN, RC, UX
Chestnut-collared Swift AM
White-collared Swift LB, UX
Vaux's Swift AM, UX
Stripe-throated [Little] Hermit AM, UX
Wedge-tailed Sabrewing AM
Long-tailed Sabrewing PA, UX
Violet Sabrewing MP, UN
Green Violet-ear CM
White-eared Hummingbird CM
White-bellied Emerald MP, PA, UX, UN
Azure-crowned Hummingbird AM, MP, RC, UN, BP
Rufous-tailed Hummingbird MP, UN, UX, BP, AM
Buff-bellied Hummingbird AM
Magnificent Hummingbird CM
Ruby-throated Hummingbird AM, PA, UX
Calliope Hummingbird CM
Rufous Hummingbird AM
Black-headed Trogon AM, UX
Violaceous Trogon AM, UN, UX
Collared Trogon MP, RC
Russet-crowned Motmot CM
Blue-crowned Motmot AM, UN
Ringed Kingfisher RC, PA, UX
Belted Kingfisher RC, BA, BP
Green Kingfisher PA, BA, UX
Collared Aracari AM, RC, UN BP
Keel-billed Toucan AM, MP, RC, BP, VE
Acorn Woodpecker CM
Golden-fronted Woodpecker AM, LB, X
Hairy Woodpecker CM
Golden-olive Woodpecker AM, MP, UN, UX
Northern Flicker CM
Lineated Woodpecker UN, UX
Pale-billed Woodpecker AM, UX
Rufous-breasted Spinetail MP, UX
Buff-throated Foliage-gleaner MP
Olivaceous Woodcreeper AM, MP, RC, UN, BP, X
Ivory-billed Woodcreeper UN, UX
White-striped Woodcreeper CM
Streak-headed Woodcreeper UX
Spot-crowned Woodcreeper RC
Barred Antshrike MP, UX, AM
Yellow-bellied Tyrannulet UX
Greenish Elaenia UX
Yellow-bellied Elaenia UX
Ochre-bellied Flycatcher AM, UN
Sepia-capped Flycatcher UX
Common Tody-Flycatcher UX
Eye-ringed Flatbill UN
Yellow-olive Flycatcher AM, MP, UN
Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher UX
Greater Pewee CM
Eastern Wood-Pewee UN Heard only
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher UX
Acadian Flycatcher AM
Traill's Flycatcher UX
Least Flycatcher BA MWE not observed
Cordilleran Flycatcher CM
Buff-breasted Flycatcher CM
Black Phoebe UX
Vermilion Flycatcher LB
Bright-rumped Attila MP, UN, BP, UX
Dusky-capped Flycatcher AM, MP, UN, UX, CM
Great Crested Flycatcher RC, UN, BP, UX
Great Kiskadee LB, AL, RC, PA, X
Boat-billed Flycatcher AM, LB, RC, X
Social Flycatcher AM, LB, AL, PA, MP, X
Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher UN
Tropical Kingbird AL, UN, BA, UX
Couch's Kingbird LB, PA
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher LB, RC, BA, UX
Fork-tailed Flycatcher LB, BA, VE
Rose-throated Becard UN, UX
Masked Tityra AM, RC, PA, X
Black-crowned Tityra AM, RC
Loggerhead Shrike CM
White-eyed Vireo MP, RC, UN, UX, AM
Yellow-throated Vireo UX, AM
Blue-headed Vireo AM, MP, RC, UN, CM
Hutton's Vireo CM
Warbling Vireo CM
Lesser Greenlet MP, RC, UN, UX
Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo CM
Rufous-browed Peppershrike AM Heard only
Steller's Jay CM
Brown Jay AM, AL, X
Mexican Jay CM
Purple Martin UX MWE not observed
Tree Swallow LB
Mangrove Swallow BA, UX
Northern Rough-winged Swallow AM, LB, MP, UN, X
Barn Swallow LB, UN, BA, UX, CM
Mexican Chickadee CM
Bushtit CM
White-breasted Nuthatch CM
Pygmy Nuthatch CM
Brown Creeper CM
Band-backed Wren AM, MP, UN, UX
Gray-barred Wren CM
Sumichrast's Wren AM Heard only
Spot-breasted Wren AM, MP, RC, UN, UX
House Wren AM, MP, UN, BA, CM, X
Marsh Wren CM
White-bellied Wren UX
White-breasted Wood-Wren AM, MP, UN, UX
Ruby-crowned Kinglet CM
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher AM, LB, CM, X
Tropical Gnatcatcher UX MWE not observed
Western Bluebird CM
Brown-backed Solitaire CM
Wood Thrush RC, MP, UN, UX
Clay-colored Robin AM, UN, BA, UX
White-throated [Thrush] Robin AM, CM
Rufous-backed Robin CM
American Robin CM
Gray Catbird RC, UN, UX
Northern Mockingbird LB
American Pipit CM
Gray Silky-flycatcher CM
Olive Warbler CM
Blue-winged Warbler AM, MP, RC, UX
Golden-winged Warbler UX
Tennessee Warbler UX
Orange-crowned Warbler LB, CM
Nashville Warbler AM, CM
Crescent-chested Warbler CM
Northern Parula AM, MP, RC, UN, UX
Northern x Tropical Parula AM
Tropical Parula AM, RC, UX, X
Yellow Warbler LB, RC, PA, UX, BP
Magnolia Warbler AM, LB, UN, PA, X
Yellow-rumped Warbler CM
Black-throated Green Warbler AM, MP, UN, UX, CM
Townsend's Warbler CM
Black-and-white Warbler AM, MP, RC, UN, BP, CM
American Redstart AM, RC, MP, UN, BA, X
Worm-eating Warbler AM, RC, UN, UX
Ovenbird RC, BP, UX
Northern Waterthrush UX, CM
Kentucky Warbler UX MWE not observed
Common Yellowthroat AM, LB, RC, BA, BP, CM, X
Black-polled Yellowthroat CM
Gray-crowned Yellowthroat AM, BA, BP, UX
Hooded Warbler AM, X
Wilson's Warbler AM, CM, X
Red Warbler CM
Slate-throated Redstart CM
Fan-tailed Warbler AM
Golden-crowned Warbler AM, MP, UX
Rufous-capped Warbler AM, MP
Yellow-breasted Chat AM, UN, UX MWE not observed
Bananaquit UX
Red-crowned Ant-Tanager MP
Red-throated Ant-Tanager AM, RC, UN, BP, UX
Summer Tanager AM, MP, RC, UN, BA, X
Western Tanager AM
Flame-colored Tanager CM
White-winged Tanager AM, MP
Blue-gray Tanager AM, UN, BA, BP, UX
Yellow-winged Tanager AM, UN, BA, UX, AM
Red-legged Honeycreeper AM, MP, UX
Blue-black Grassquit UN, UX
Variable Seedeater UX
White-collared Seedeater AM, MP, UN, BA, UX
Yellow-faced Grassquit MP
Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer CM MWE not observed
Grassland Yellow-Finch LB, VE
Green-striped Brush-Finch CM
Orange-billed Sparrow UX MWE not observed
Olive Sparrow UX, AM
Spotted Towhee CM
Canyon Towhee CM
Rusty Sparrow MP, UX
Striped Sparrow CM
Chipping Sparrow CM
Savannah Sparrow LB, CM
Sierra Madre Sparrow CM
Song Sparrow CM
Lincoln's Sparrow AM, LB, CM
Yellow-eyed Junco CM
Grayish Saltator UN, UX
Black-headed Saltator AM, MP, UN, BP
Black-faced Grosbeak MP, UX
Northern Cardinal AM, MP
Rose-breasted Grosbeak UN, AM
Black-headed Grosbeak CM
Blue-black Grosbeak UX
Indigo Bunting AM, AL, MP, RC, X
Painted Bunting UX, AM
Red-winged Blackbird AL, BA, CM
Eastern Meadowlark LB, BA, UN
Yellow-headed Blackbird CM
Melodious Blackbird AL, PA, RC, X
Brewer's Blackbird CM
Great-tailed Grackle X
Bronzed Cowbird PA, BA, UN, NM, CM
Brown-headed Cowbird CM
Black-cowled Oriole AM
Orchard Oriole UN, UX
Yellow-tailed Oriole MP, UX
Bullock's Oriole CM
Altamira Oriole RC, UN
Baltimore Oriole RC, UN, UX, BP
Black-backed [Abeille's] Oriole CM
Scott's Oriole CM
Yellow-billed Cacique MP
Yellow-winged Cacique UX Veracruz just east of Oaxaca border on Hwy. 185, 1km south of turnoff to Tuxapec
Chestnut-headed Oropendola AM
Montezuma Oropendola AM, MP, RC, X
Scrub Euphonia AM, LB, UX
Yellow-throated Euphonia AM, BP, UX
Elegant [Blue-hooded] Euphonia AM, CM
Olive-backed Euphonia UX
House Finch CM
Pine Siskin CM
Black-headed Siskin CM
Lesser Goldfinch AM, CM
House Sparrow VE, CM
Gray-headed tanager-like bird with orange face UX Well seen for almost 30 seconds by 3 people

Non-avian trip list folllows:

Mammals Location Notes
Mexican Black Howler Monkey MP, UN, RC
Central American Spider Monkey UX
White-nosed Coati UX
Prehensile-tailed Porcupine RC
Nine-banded Armadillo UX Recently captured by the young roadside entrepreneur?)
Northern Tamandua [Banded Anteater] VE Roadkill
Mexican [Red-bellied] Gray Squirrel AM, MP, UX Including all-black forms
Eastern Cottontail AM
Coyote MP
bat sp. AM, UN, UX Small and large varieties
Giant Toad [Marine or Cane Toad] UN
bufo toad sp. AM Golden color
chirping or treefrog sp. UN
large frog sp. UX
snake spp. RC, UX
House Gecko PA
Spiny-tailed Iguana BA
basilisk lizard sp. UN, UX, AM
Brown (?) Anole AM The displaying lizard with the bright orange throat "fan")
Rose-bellied Lizard UX
whiptail sp. UX With reddish head
tree-type lizard sp. UX
Odonates (note that some do not have common names)
Argia anceps AM A golden-winged dancer with mostly-blue abdomen
Leptobasis vacillans UX A tropical dancer-type with red abdomen, green thorax and face
Coryphaeschna diapyra UX, AM A large, tropical darner-type with reddish abdomen, green thorax and head; many flying; females/imm. males
Great Pondhawk UX, AM Several big lime-green males
Orange-bellied Skimmer UX Bright pink male with red face
Spot-tailed Dasher UX Perched male
Red-faced Dragonlet UX The perched male we saw 2 days along the road across from garbage dump
Band-winged Dragonlet AM, UX Females/imm. males -- including the one captured and photographed by Kevin
Red Saddlebags BP
Striped Saddlebags BP
spreadwing sp. AM
bluet sp. UX
many other UNIDs

3.29 [SFBirds] Orchard Orioles continue
The two first year male ORCHARD ORIOLES were still present at the NW corner
of Middle Lake this morning. They dropped into the willows from the eucs
above around 7:30. The birds were quite similar; I don't think I could tell
one from another, and they were quite active in the willows. Field marks of
interest from the bird better observed of the two:

- Green
- Only slightly larger than the nearby Yellow-rumped Warblers
- No noticeable curvature observed on the lower mandible
- Two well-defined wingbars

But the piece de resistance were the vocalizations. In addition to the soft
chucks that were often given by the birds, one actually broke into song.
The song was warbler-like; a varied set of high-pitched soft warbles
intermixed with occasional soft chuck notes, quite different from the lower,
more deliberate whistles of a Hooded Oriole.


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