05 - 15 February 2009by Todd Pepper
Species: 165 - Subspecies: 1
A Bird-Finding Guide to Mexico by Steve Howell, Comstock Publishing Associates, 1999.
A Field Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Adjacent Areas:
Belize, Guatemala, and El Salvador, Ernest
A Bird-Finding Guide to Mexico and Northern Central America , Stephen N.G. Howell & Sophie Webb, Oxford University Press, 1995.
We found that more than one field guide was necessary. The Edwards book does not have pictures of all the Flycatchers we encountered and the plate colours of the Flycatchers are not as field accurate as they could be. However, the Edwards book provides more detail on the Hummingbirds than the Van Perlo or Howell/Webb books.
weather was dry throughout. The mornings were cool, 70C (450F)
requiring a windbreaker or jacket until the sun came up over the
Afternoons were as hot as 320C (900F).
February 9th: Today our taxi was to the 2nd class bus station in time to catch the bus that goes south on Highway 190 to Mitla and beyond. We got off at the intersection of the road that goes to the Yagul archaeological site (Howell Site 11.3). We then birded up and down the road, and around the archaeological site. Two Gum or Eucalyptus type trees on the north side of the road were in bloom and attracting feeding flocks of warblers and two targeted endemics: Doubleday Hummingbird and Black-vented Oriole. The organ pipe and prickly pear cactus were not quite in full bloom but enough so that we had at least three endemic Grey-breasted Woodpeckers feeding in the blossoms. A number of Bridled Sparrows also showed well, as did several Boucard’s Wrens. Near the parking lot of the archaeological site, a Dwarf Vireo was in a small yellow flowering bush for over half an hour, providing excellent views. A Crested Caracara crossed the road low in front of us on the way back to the highway. Seems he had a date: we discovered a pair copulating down below the hill. We flagged down a bus on the highway and 40 minutes later we were back in
10th: Our day
started the same way with a taxi to the 2nd class bus
this time we caught the bus heading northeast on Highway 175 to
got off at Cerro San Felipe, also known as La Cumbre (Howell Site
water bottling plant on the north side of the road was very birdy with
and vireos, as well as target birds: Chestnut-capped Brushfinch, a
Jay, and a couple Sierra Madre Sparrows. We then headed up the north
After about 1 kilometre a pickup truck came by and we were able to get
a ride to
Kilometre 7. There is a small campground at this location, with a
cabins that can be rented. We then walked, mostly downhill, back to the
birding as we walked. It was a quiet walk. We encountered only two
feeding flocks of warblers, titmice, chickadees and kinglets during the
although Geoff was happy as the mixed flock included a number of
breed in southwestern and western
The last regional endemic for the day was a Pine Flycatcher - good views.We caught a collectivo taxi back to
11th: This was our
day to bird the area known in the birding community as the “black tank”
“garbage gulch”. It is located approximately 4 kilometres north of
Later, we went back down to the highway walking back towards Oaxaca, until we came to the next cow path taking us into the scrubby brush again. This was just before a guardrail on the north side of the road over a small arroyo. Within a matter of minutes we could hear a “mimic” calling up ahead of us. Not knowing whether we were dealing with a Northern Mockingbird, Curve-billed Thrasher, or our target bird, the Ocellated Thrasher, we cautiously moved forward on the narrow trail. Around the corner was a singing Ocellated Thrasher sitting out in the open at the top of a dead snag. Coming back down the trail 30 minutes later, we saw it still sitting up and singing as we passed by. Earlier, before we got to the Thrasher, a small bird had flown across the slope in front of us as we went up the trail. Focused on the Thrasher, we did not stop to check it out. On the way back down to the highway, in the same area, a small bird again flew up the slope in front of us. This time it landed at the base of a small tree perhaps 2 metres from us. As I suspected, it was our last target bird for the area, a Slaty Vireo. Ross said he now believes that I have a lucky horseshoe in my back pocket. As the vireo moved up the slope, Geoff and I went around to the arroyo to get another look but were stopped in our tracks by a coral snake passing in front of us. Back on Highway 175 we managed to flag down a bus within a couple of minutes. Ross and Sandy had been telling Geoff and me their horror stories of endless waits and 2 or 3 kilometre highway tromps in the heat of the day to get a bus back to the city after birding “garbage gulch.” Horseshoe again?
February 12th: This was our first day with our rental car
and a hired local guide, Roque Antonio Santiago, firstname.lastname@example.org.
hired Roque for 2 days to help us clean up on local endemics and other
of interest. Unfortunately for him, the list by this point was getting
short. We picked Roque up at the 3rd speed bump in the town
A fairly lengthy hike through some remnant forest patches did not produce the Mountain Trogon that Roque had seen there earlier in the week. Heading back towards Teotitlan del Valle at the end of the day we asked Roque what the plan was for tomorrow. His response was, “You don’t need me”. So either our list was getting more difficult, he had a better offer, or we really did know what we were doing.
February 13th: Today we broke out the John Forcey book that Roque had given us, to search for trails that would get us back up into the pine/oak forest, and perhaps a Chacalaca or Roadrunner on the way. Geoff had read a promising trip report about birding the
14th: We went back
to La Cumbre hoping
for Beautiful or Bumblebee Hummingbird or perhaps a Wood-Partridge
path in front of us. This time we started birding on the south road. We
new thrushes to the trip list and our first woodcreeper, but none of
birds. A very small patch of a harvested field did produce a single
endemic – the Black-headed Siskin. We then hiked a couple of kilometres
north road, but had nothing different from February 10th.
the Forcey book again we set out for Santa Cruz Etla. Behind the 2nd
class bus station, we caught a collectivo taxi to
The trip total was 165 species based on the taxonomy in Cornell's Clements World Bird Taxonomy v6.3.2. Species names in brackets are from Howell and Webb. Endemics are highlighted.
Species: 165 - Subspecies: 9
(Doubleday’s) Broad-billed Hummingbird
Hairy Woodpecker sanctorum
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
(Audubon’s) Yellow-rumped Warbler
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Western Spindalis (Stripe-headed Tanager)
White-collared (Cinnamon-rumped) Seedeater
Sierra Madre Sparrow
Audubon’s (Dickey’s) Oriole