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, Coopers Hawk, Northern (Red-shafted) Flicker, Stellars 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, Huttons Vireo, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Lincolns 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, Scotts Oriole and White-eared Hummingbird. The notable miss was Stricklands Woodpecker.
We returned to this area the following morning to better study a number of unidentified hummer s and to try again for the Stricklands. 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 Howells 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, Bairds Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Sora, Blue-winged Teal, Killdeer, Wilsons 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, Brewers, Red-winged and bi-colored Blackbirds, 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, Bullocks 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, Huttons and Blue-headed Vireos, Black-throated Green, Black-and-white, Red, 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 Wilsons 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:
- Three species of Tinamou
- A stunningly cooperative Pinnated Bittern
Pinnated Bittern, ©2004 Mark W. Eaton
- Walk-away looks at a Bat Falcon
- More rails seen at one location than any other birding site ever, including at least 3 Soras in view at the same time.
- Nice scope views of Double-striped Thick-Knee
- A pair of Black-and-White Owls directly above our heads
- Finally, good looks at a Stripe-throated [Little] Hermit
- Collared Aricaris and Keel-billed Toucans aplenty
- Five species of Woodcreeper, sometimes head-smashingly difficult to identify
- Male Barred-Antshrike; are you kidding me?
- Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher
- Great looks at a Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo
- Northern x Tropical Parula (a Parula with the yellow wrapping up behind the auriculars that had a partial white eye crescent above one eye)
- Black-polled Yellowthroat
- Six (!) adult male Red-legged Honeycreepers in th same tree
- Green-striped Brush-Finch in plain view
- Solid looks at Sierra Madre Sparrow
- Black-cowled Oriole
- Black-backed [Abeille's] Oriole
- Both Oropendolas in view at the same time
- Mexican Black Howler Monkeys!
- Prehensile-tailed Porcupine!
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:
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 Herps 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:
- 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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