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21 - 30 December 2004

Barron Stuart Levine

Kate Tillotson and I had a fabulous nine day trip to Chiapas.  We were able to combine a lot of birding with sightseeing and some cultural events. We has absolutely zero problems with security (for those of you are concerned). The few military checkpoints we saw waved us through with nary a stoppage.

Our first stop was at Tuxtla Gutierrez. We visited Sumidero Canyon twice, The Tuxtla zoo, and the grounds of the Camino Real Hotel. All 3 sites were very good considering the time of the year. One BELTED FLYCATCHER was seen at the site mentioned in Howell. We stayed at the nice Hotel Arecas (Best Western) for a pricey $60. Nice in that you can get in and out of town easily. I would not recommend staying in the city center (cheaper), but a bear to get out of due to congestion. Birdchatters Doris and John Waud, who are living in Tuxtla for the year, invited us to join them for an evening at Las Pinchachas Restaurant. A really wonderful place that has traditional dancing and food. Thanks again Doris and John.

Out of Tuxtla we headed for Arriaga (Hotel Ik-Lumaal decent enough for $20) and Puerto Arista. We spent 3 hours the first afternoon and 1/2 hour the next morning before we saw GIANT WRENS near the junction of 190 and Boca de Cielo Road. Had a nice experience with a man who lives in the first house north of the Boca de Cielo Road at the junction of 190. He invited us into his backyard to see a pair of nesting LINNEATED WOODPECKERS and to talk about birds. He hunts them as well as admiring them, by the way. He was very friendly and let us park our car in his driveway while we birded the area. We then went across the junction and birded the lagoon mentioned in Howell. It was hopping. Easier access would be to go north on 190 to the first left hand turn. That would allow you to bypass the village. You could also take the next road north if you want to try the other side of the lagoon. From there we headed back toward Tuxtla easily finding ROSITA'S BUNTING in the steep turns of the gallery forest.

Our next stop was the wonderous San Cristobal (the so-so Media Luna overpriced at $35). S.C. is as great a good place as we have visited in Mexico. Very cold mornings and evenings at this time of the year though. Here we birded the Ocosingo Road site (mentioned in Howell) and PINK-HEADED WARBLERS were very present here and many other roadside spots nearby. An UNSPOTTED SAW-WHET OWL was great fun to see at 5 one morning. We birded a very quiet Cerro Huitepec one afternoon and tried the microonda tower on the other side of the mountain the next morning. Not much there as it was cold, windy and foggy. Best directions to the tower are to take the road that goes off to the right (if you're heading from SC-Tuxtla on the main highway) at kilometer 78. There will be 4 yellow arrow signs at this junction. Then you'll pass a small village and in a short while, you'll see a road heading off to your left signed microondas Huitepec II. It's actually a 2 tracked cement driveway that takes you a few miles up to the tower.

In town don't miss the world class Amber Museum and make sure you visit the village of Chamula on a Sunday morning. Contrary to what you might have read, you can do this on your own, but make sure you don't take pictures. The locals view this as stealing their souls and will attack you and either take your camera, or rip out the film. Serious stuff.

Ocosingo was our next destination with a stop along the Chanal Road to look for BLACK-THROATED JAYS. We eventually found the jays in a small viallage off to the south side of the road. A very shy and curious group of women followed our every movement. Made for a very unique experience. In Ocosingo we stayed at the Hotel Central. Fine location and at $18, with a parking garage included, just about right. We ventured to the picturesque Tonina ruins for both late afternoon and early morning birding. One of the truly lovely places we have seen in Mexico. Birding is good at the ruins and is excellent along the road out to the ruins. Particularly nice is a bridge over a small river. The road is now paved all the way to the ruins.

We were fortunate to have a local turn on to a shortcut to our next destination-Comitan. We took a road through Altamirano that was birdy throughout. We got tricked by a hummer that had it's head covered in pollen. Thought we had seen a bird that hadn't been documented before. Pretty dodgey. We used Comitan (Posada Virrey, not very good for $33)as a base to explore the Montebello area. This area has been greatly degraded and I would not recommend it unless you are looking for specific species. Here we did find UNICOLORD JAY and PREVOST'S GROUND-SPARROW at the Howell location. Interesting was a field in the general vicinity that had over 200 Lincoln's Sparrows. The lakes by the way are picturesque.

On our way back to Tuxtla we stopped at the wondrous El Chiflon Cascade. At 11 in the morning the butterflies abounded. I'm guessing the birding would be very good earlier. This is a place well worth visiting.

Below is a list of all birds seen.

Thanks to Howard Pine, Kraig and Kathy Kemper, Marcus Roening, Bob Sundstrom and all trip reports that made our journey so great.

Least Grebe
Pied-Billed Grebe
Am. White Pelican
Brown Pelican
Neotropic Cormorant
Magnificent Frigatebird
Bare-Throated Tiger-Heron
Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
Snowy Egret
Little Blue Heron
Tricolored Heron
Cattle Egret
Reddish Egret
Roseate Spoonbill
Wood Stork
Muscovy Duck
Black Vulture
Turkey Vulture
Grey-Headed Kite
Hooked-Billed Kite
White-Tailed Kite
White-Breasted Hawk
Roadside Hawk
Short-Tailed Hawk
Red-Tailed Hawk
Crested Caracara
American Kestrel
Great Currasow
Plain Chachalaca
White-Bellied Chachalaca
Common Moorhen
American Coot
Black-Bellied Plover
Collared Plover
Wilson's Plover
Semipalmated Plover
Black-Necked Stilt
Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs
Spotted Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper
Stilt Sandpiper
Long Billed Curlew
Marbled Godwit
Laughing Gull
Caspian Tern
Royal Tern
Rock Pigeon
Red-Billed Pigeon
Band-Tailed Pigeon
White-Winged Dove
Mourning Dove
Inca Dove
Common Ground-Dove
Plain-Breasted Ground
Ruddy Ground-Dove
Pacific Parakeet
Green Parakeet
Barred Parakeet
Brown-Hooded Parrot
White-Crowned Parrot
White-Fronted Parrot
Squirrel Cuckoo
Groove-Billed Ani
Mountain Pygmy-0wl
Unspotted Saw-Whet Owl
Lesser Nighthawk
Mexican Whip-Poor-Will
Vaux's Swift
White-Throated Swift
Great Swallow-Tailed Swift
Canivet's Emerald
White-Eared Hummingbird
Azure-Cr. Hummingbird
Berylline Hummingbird
Buff-Bellied Hummingbird
Green-Fronted Hummingbird
Green-Throated Mountain-Gem
Amethyst-Throated Hummingbird
Garnet-Throated Hummingbird
Magnificent Hummingbird
Slender Sheartail
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
Mountain Trogon
Rufous Sabrewing
Blue-Crowned Motmot
Acorn Woodpecker
Golden-Fronted Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Golden-Olive Woodpecker
Guatemalan Flicker
Lineated Woodpecker
Pale-Billed Woodpecker
Ruddy Foliage-Gleaner
Tawny-Throated Leaftosser
Strong-Billed Woodcreeper
Ivory-Billed Woodcreeper
Spot-Crowned Woodcreeper
Barred Antshrike
Mexican Anttrush
Greenish Elaenia
Yellow-Olive Flycatcher
Belted Flycatcher
Common-Tufted Flycatcher
Greater Peewee
Yellow-Bellied Flycatcher
Least Flycatcher
Hammond's Flycatcher
Pine Flycatcher
Buff-Breasted Flycatcher
Say's Phoebe
Vermillion Flycatcher
Dusky-Capped Flycatcher
Nutting's Flycatcher
Great-Crested Flycatcher
Brown-Crested Flycatcher
Flammulated Flycatcher
Great Kiskadee
Boat-Billed Flycatcher
Social Flycatcher
Tropical Kingbird
Couch's Kingbird
Western Kingbird
Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher
Rose-Troated Becard
Grey-Breasted Martin
Tree Swallow
Black-Capped Swallow
Ridgway's Roughwing Swallow
Steller's Jay
White-Throated Magpie-Jay
Green Jay
Brown Jay
Black-Throated Jay
Unicolored Jay
Northern Raven
Brown Creeper
Band-Backed Wren
Spot-Breasted Wren
Plain Wren
Southern House Wren
Rufous-Browed Wren
Nightingale Wren
Giant Wren
Blue-Grey Gnatcatcher
White-Lored Gnatcatcher
Eastern Bluebird
Orange-Billed Nightingale-Thrush
Black-Headed Nightingale-Thrush
Swainson's Thrush
Wood Thrush
Black Thrush
Clay-Colored Thrush
White-Throated Thrush
Rufous-Collared Thrush
Gray Catbird
Cedar Waxwing
Grey Silky
Blue-Headed Vireo
Plumbeous Vireo
Yellow-Throated Vireo
Hutton's Vireo
Warbling Vireo
Brown-Capped Vireo
Yellow-Green Vireo
Blue-Winged Warbler
Golden-Winged Warbler
Tennessee Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Crescent-Chested Warbler
Yellow Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
B-Throated Blue Warbler
Myrtle Warbler
Audubon's Warbler
Townsend's Warbler
Hermit Warbler
B/Throated Green Warbler
Golden-Cheeked Warbler
Yellow-Throated Warbler
Grace's Warbler
Orange-Crowned Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler
Black and White Warbler
American Redstart
MacGillivray's Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
G-Crowned Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler
Wilson's Warbler
Red-Faced Warbler
Red Warbler
Pink-Headed Warbler
Painted Redstart
Slate-Throated Redstart
Golden-Crowned Warbler
Rufous-Capped Warbler
Golden-Browed Warbler
Yellow-Breasted Chat
Olive Warbler
Y-Throated Euphonia
Red-Crowned Ant-Tanager
Hepatic Tanager
Summer Tanager
Western Tanager
Flame-Colored Tanager
Common Bush-Tanager
Blue Bunting
Indigo Bunting
Orange-Breasted Bunting
Varied Bunting
Rosita's Bunting
Painted Bunting
White-Naped Brushfinch
C-Capped Brushfinch
Prevost's Ground-Sparrow
Spotted Towhee
Blue-Black Grassquit
White-Collared Seedeater
Ruddy-Breasted Seedeater
C-Bellied Flowerpiercer
Rusty Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow
Rufous-Collared Sparrow
Chiapas Y-Eyed Junco
Red-Winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Melodious Blackbird
Great-Tailed Grackle
Bronzed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole
Black-Vented Oriole
Yellow-Backed Oriole
Altamira Oriole
Baltimore Oriole
Yellow-Winged Cacique
Red Crossbill
Black-Headed Siskin
Black-Capped Siskin
House Sparrow

Barron Stuart Levine
Ecology/Biology Teacher
Newport High School
4333 S.E. Factoria Blvd.
Bellevue.Wa. 98006