Birding the Americas Trip Report
and Planning Repository
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MEXICO -- OAXACA
01 - 12 November 2001
by Gerry Weinberger
1. THE GROUP - 10 of us gathered in Acapulco on 10/31, staying
at the Hotel Boca Chica, right on the water, awaiting our leaders. The
trip was organized and superbly led by Kim Risen from MN (his 12th trip to
Oaxaca) and very ably assisted by Mike Mulligan of Calgary. Participants
arrived mostly on Continental direct from Houston. My partner and I
came direct from Dallas on American.
2. THE ITINERARY - The trip broke into 4 different segments
a. Coastal Segment - 3 days- we left on the am of 11/1,
heading S. on Rt. 200 and birding along the way. First night we stayed
at Hotel Pepe's in Pinotepa Nacional; the next two nights in Puerto Angel
at the Hotel Soraya. Both places were simple and basic, but also clean
and well-situated for early morning close-by birding.
b. Oaxaca City segment - 4 days - we drove to Oaxaca
on Rt. 175 from Puerto Angel, crossing 2 mountain ranges and birding as we
went. we stayed on the zocolo in Oaxaca at the Hotel Senorial, a modern
and nice hotel with paper-thin walls between rooms, but permitting evening
dining outdoors on the square which is vibrant and alive with activity - great
for just eating and watching. There were even Barn Owls nesting just
feet off the zocolo in a hole in a building, and from the street we could
see two babies constantly calling.
c. Tuxtapec segment - 3 days - leaving Oaxaca on 11/8
we headed towards Veracruz on Rt. 175 again, the main Pacific to Atlantic
route cutting right through the state of Oaxaca. In Tuxtapec we stayed
in the modern Hotel Hacienda, very nice rooms, a swimming pool, and small
4. Veracruz - the final night after birding all day
in the wet savannas of coastal VeraCruz. 8 of us left very early the
next morning for the States. Four took Continental direct to Houston
and then home; the other 4 took Mexicana to Mexico City and then transferred
for home. we took American to Dallas and then on to Dulles. Two
participants and the leaders continued for another 5-6 days looking for specific
3. THE BIRDS - I'll just mention the highlights, especially
Mexican Endemics, plus a few interesting sightings. I saw and heard
270 species, with at least 32 Lifers, and over 120 new birds for my Mexico
list ; the final group tally should be easily over 300-325.
a. Coastal Segment: RED-BREASTED CHAT, RUSSET-CROWNED
MOTMOT, CITREOLINE TROGON, BLACK-CHESTED SPARROW, WHITE-THROATED MAGPIE-JAY,ORANGE-BREASTED
BUNTING, WHITE-LORED GNATCATCHER, GOLDEN VIREO, BANDED & HAPPY WRENS,
BLUE MOCKINGBIRD, and SPOT-BREASTED and STREAK-BACKED ORIOLES. Parrots
included: YELLOW-HEADED, RED-LORED, and LILAC-CROWNED, plus ORANGE-FRONTED
PARAKEETS. Hummers included: PLAIN-CAPPED and LONG-BILLED STARTHROATS,
CINNAMON, DOUBLEDAY'S, GOLDEN-CROWNED EMERALD, CINNAMON-SIDED, and BLUE-CAPPED.
Raptors included: HOOK-BILLED KITE, CRESTED CARACARA, and ROADSIDE HAWKS (everywhere).
A surprise for all was BLACK-CAPPED VIREO.
b. Oaxaca Segment: The road to Oaxaca produced, among
others, DWARF VIREO (the first of several) and BERYLLINE H'BIRD (common throughout).
The next day, at Cerro San Felipe (cloud forest) we had excellent looks at:
RUFOUS-CAPPED BRUSH-FINCH, COLLARED TOWHEE, RED WARBLER (an incredible little
bird - stunning), RUSSET NIGHTENGALE-THRUSH (common), and GRAY-BARRED WRENS
which were moving in a flock with DWARF JAYS, one of my target birds.
We got good looks in poor light.
The next am found us birding below the ruins at Yagul (very impressive)
where we saw: GRAY-BREASTED WOODPECKERS, DUSKY H'BIRDS, BLACK-VENTED ORIOLES,
BRIDLED SPARROWS, and BOUCARD'S WREN. Then we birded the dam, reservoir,
and road above the town of Teotihlan, and found: BEAUTIFUL H'BIRD and GRAY-COLLARED
On 11/7 we went to Monte Alban which is spectacular. Birding there
produced killer looks at OAXACA SPARROW, but we dipped on OCELLATED THRASHER
(my big miss for the trip). We heard it singing clearly but it never
responded to tape, so it goes on my Heard Only List. Great song.
On 11/8 we left for Tuxtapec, but stopped again at Cerro San Felipe and
this time saw: AMETHYST-THROATED H'BIRD and GREEN VIOLET-EAR, plus very nice
looks at BROWN-BACKED SOLITAIRE. Then on to Valle Nacional on Rt. 175,
stopping to get nice looks at UNICOLORED JAYS, another of my target birds.
We were to get even better looks the next day of a group, in bright sunshine,
feeding on fallen fruit, on the road.
We also had a brief look, unexpected, of a LONG-TAILED WOOD-PARTRIDGE sauntering
across the road, just like a chicken. We also had excellent looks at:
BLACK ROBIN, SLATE-COLORED SOLITAIRE, and YELLOW-WINGED TANAGERS.
c. Tuxtapec Segment: The next morning we birded in remnant
forest and hillsides around agricultural areas. We saw: GRAYISH and
BLACK-HEADED SALTATORS (later we were to add BUFF-THROATED SALTATOR here),
MONTEZUMA OREPENDOLA's, KEEL-BILLED TOUCANS, HOODED YELLOWTHROATS, RUFOUS-TAILED
H'BIRD, and nice looks at a CRANE HAWK. We also got killer looks at
RUFOUS-BREASTED SPINETAIL. Afterwards we went to a river delata (don't
know the name) where a bridge had collapsed, cutting the road, but where we
found: RINGED and GREEN KINGFISHERS (the next day we also found AMAZON here),
two APLOMADA FALCONS in a tree, and a surprising immature REDDISH EGRET.
That night we had great looks at a NORTHERN POTOO on a fence post.
The morning of the 10th we arose very early to bird high above Valle Nacional
at altitudes starting at about 3500 ft. and going above 6000.
Great birds, including: COLLARED and VIOLACEOUS TROGONS, AZURE-CROWNED H'BIRD,
LITTLE HERMIT, and CANIVET's EMERALD, RUSTY and ORANGE-BILLED SPARROWS, THICK-BILLED
SEED-FINCH, BLACK-COWLED ORIOLE . Most of the group, but not me, got
brief but good looks at WHITE-NAPED BRUSH-FINCH. We also had excellent
looks at a soaring WHITE H AWK and a DOUBLE-TOOTHED KITE.
4. Veracruz Wetlands: Lots and lots of waders and raptors,
including 5 LAUGHING FALCONS, SNAIL KITES, many LESSER YELLOW-HEADED VULTURES,
GREAT BLACK HAWK (we had seen Common Black Hawk on the Pacific Coast), and
one of my most eagerly hoped-for birds, 2 BLACK-COLLARED HAWKS, a spectacularly
striking-looking bird. We also had many good looks at FORK-TAILED FLYCATCHERS
sitting in fields.Also had repeated up-close looks at ROADSIDE HAWKS again.
4. MISSES: No trip gets them all, and not everyone sees everything,
but among ours probably the biggest misses, aside from the thrasher, were:
BUMBLEBEE H'BIRD, RED-CROWNED ANT-TANAGER, BARE-THROATED TIGER-HERON, GARNET-THROATED
H'BIRD, WEDGE-TAILED SABREWING, and RED-HEADED TANAGER. Of course, that
only gives one an excuse to return.
5. SUMMARY - A great trip, great birds, great scenery, great
ruins, great food, and great people. A truly wonderful birding destination.