In summer 2007 the four of us drove through southern Mexico for about a month and half. Oscar Johnson and Matt Brady came from California. Charlie Wright from Washington, and Luke DeCicco from Alaska. Matt and Luke drove Luke’s Tercel 4WD station wagon from Boston to Texas, picked up Charlie in Dallas-Fort Worth, and then spent the next week birding their way down to Mexico City, where they picked me up. Most of the following is written by myself, so hopefully the first week of birding will be added at some point. We only stayed in a hotel once, opting for camping wherever we could, eating at taquerias, and overall just playing it by ear. All site location numbers (listed at the start of each day) refer to the site numbers in Howell’s excellent Bird-finding Guide to Mexico, which we utilized extensively, along with some trip reports we gleaned from the Internet. Charlie obtained a number of recording of Mexican birds on an iPod, which we utilized where appropriate to tape birds in. Luke had a small recording device, and were were able to obtain recordings of a number of birds. Also, Charlie had a video camera, and I brought a spotting scope, so we were able to get some digiscoped photos. The highlights of the first week (I was not present) were White-fronted Swift at Temescaltepec, Northern Goshawk somewhere in the state of Mexico, Maroon-fronted Parrot at Cola de Caballo/Highrise, and Worthen's Sparrows at Hedondia Grande.
21 July – Pick up Oscar in Toluca. Bird Rio Lerma Marshes. Drive to Amatlan, Veracruz.
22 July – Birded Amatlan, Veracruz. Colonia Francisco Barrios later in the day, and drove to Coatepec that night.
23 July – Birded Coatepec. Car at mechanic until following afternoon.
24 July – Drove to Las Barrancas in late afternoon.
25 July – Birded Las Barrancas in the morning. Drove to Sierra de los Tuxtlas. Tried to get to Bastonal without success. Birded the road to RMO. Pipiapan until dark.
26 July – Morning at RMO. Pipiapan. Afternoon hike to Bastonal.
27 July – Continued to the forest above Bastonal. Stayed until noon, hiked back down. Drove to Uxpanapa Road
28 July – Birded Uxpanapa Road in the morning. Drove to Arriaga, Chiapas and birded in the foothills above town. Drove to Puerto Arista, birded until dark.
29 July – Birded Puerto Arista in the morning. Drove to Union Juarez, arrived in the late afternoon. Birded until dark, got a hotel room.
30 July – Hiked Volcan Tacana. Camped bellow town.
31 July – Birded the main road bellow Union Juarez, and then drove to Lagos de Montebello, with a stop near Motozintla. Arrived late, camped.
1 August – Lagos de Montebello until mid afternoon. Drove to San Cristobal de las Casas. Birded around town. Camped at km 2 of Ocosingo Road.
2 August – Chanal Road in the morning. Drove to El Sumidero, birded there until dark. Drove to Tehuantepec, Oaxaca. Camped just west of town. Arrived late.
3 August – Birded just west of town early. Then to La Ventosa Lagoon. Drove to Puerto Angel, with a stop at km 285.5.
4 August – Pelagic out of Puerto Angel. Started towards Oaxaca City late. Camped at km 193.
5 August – Birded around camp in the morning. Then to La Soledad. Stopped at km 159. Drove to Oaxaca City. Picked up Eric Antonio Martinez. Birded Yagul until dark.
6 August – Above Teotitlan in the morning, then to Monte Alban around midday. Dropped off Eric at his house. Started towards Valle Nacional. Camped at Cerro San Felipe.
7 August – Cerro San Felipe (La Cumbre) until midday, then drove to Valle Nacional. Birded km 108 – 79 until dark. Camped near km 74.
8 August – km 74 – 81.5 until midday. Started towards Sierra de Atoyac, Guerrero. Stopped at km 203 – 206 above Oaxaca City. Arrived at Sierra de Atoyac the following morning.
9 August – Birded the road between Chichihualco and Carrizal de los Bravos all day. Camped and owled near Xochipala.
10 August – Birded the road between Xochipala and just above Carrizal de los Bravos all day.
11 August – Drove to Paraiso via the mountain roads. Some birding along the way.
12 August – Arroyo Grande Track all day.
13 August – Birded the main road from 6 km above Paraiso to km post 26 bellow San Vicente.
14 August – Started driving to Mexico City. Car broke down just south of Cuernavaca. Bus to Mexico City. Left car at mechanic.
15 August – Matt and Charlie fly home out of Mexico City.
18 August – Picked up car, started driving to Mazatlan, Sinaloa. Stop at Nevado de Toluca in late afternoon.
19 August – Arrived in Mazatlan late. Camped on La Noria Road.
20 August – La Noria Road in the morning. Drove up the Durango Highway in early afternoon. Birded between km 211 – 209. Camped at Microondas Loberas.
21 August – All day on Durango Highway. Started at Microodas Loberas, then to km 211, La Petaca Road, and back to Microodas Loberas. Started to rain. Hiked to Barranca Rancho Liebre in late afternoon after the rain ceased. Camped at km 214.
22 August – Barranca Rancho Liebre early. Started driving to Saltillo, Nuevo Leon. Some short stops near Durango at roadside ponds/lakes. Camped just east of Hedondia Grande, south of Saltillo.
23 August – Birded Hedondia Grande early, started driving to Houston. Crossed the border near Laredo.
24 August – Birded High Island and Bolivar.
25 August – Oscar’s flight home out of Houston. Luke starts driving home.
21 July – (8.8) After picking up Oscar in Toluca, we headed to the Rio Lerma Marshes to look for BLACK-POLLED YELLOWTHROATS. Some Striped Sparrows along the road to Almoloya del Rio seemed out of place. We found the Yellowthroats rather easily along the edge of the marsh off the dirt road that runs along the edge of the marshes described in Howell. Other birds here included: Laughing Gull (rare inland?), White-faced Ibis, Mexican Duck, and impressive numbers of Common Moorhens, along with the more expected waterbirds.
22 July – (10.3) We arrived at Amatlan, Veracruz a little later in the morning than we had wished for, but it was birdy nonetheless. We had some trouble finding the road to the cemetery, mainly because of some one-way streets not mentioned by Howell. There was also a festival happening in the zocalo, which didn’t help. The road still headed east out of town on the north side of the zocalo, but was just harder to get to. We parked at the end of the road and started walking some trails into the forest and coffee plantations. We heard SUMICHRAST’S WREN a few times along the trail, but never very close. We eventually found a good-looking karst outcropping after going off trail from a clearing at the top of the first rise. A Sumichrast’s Wren responded beautifully to playback here and we all got excellent looks, video, and recordings. Other birds here included Fan-tailed Warbler, Wedge-tailed Sabrewing, Canivet’s and White-bellied Emeralds, Long-billed Starthroat, White-crowned and Red-lored Parrots, Squirrel Cuckoo, Green Shrike-Vireo (heard), Red-throated Ant-Tanager, and Thicket Tinamou (heard).
(10.4) We returned to the car and drove to Colonia Francisco Barrios. We birded along the road just east of town (a few houses and some topes), stopping where we saw flowers once we entered thorn forest. We found most of the flowers near houses and small plantations near thorn forest. At one of these flower patches we found a female MEXICAN SHEARTAIL. Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls were surprisingly common here, with a total of eleven seen and/or heard. We then took a random dirt road to the north to a good-looking patch of thorn forest. I forgot to take a km reading for this road, but any road towards likely looking habitat should produce similar birds. Birds along this road included: White-bellied Wren, Montezuma Oropendola, Grayish Saltator, Collared Forest-Falcon (heard), and Rose-throated Becard. Continued to Coatepec that night.
23 July – (10.2) We picked up Don Pedro Mota and his son Claudio at 6 AM at their house in Coatepec. He directed us to a spot for BEARDED WOOD-PARTRIDGE in the hills above town. He took us on a few km hike to a wooded valley where he knew of a number of groups of birds. Although this was not a good time of year to see this species we still managed to hear to groups of birds calling in the valley. Despite Pedro’s efforts to whistle the birds in, we were never able to see them. The area was very birdy, and Pedro knew his birds well, although there were some issues, as he only knew the local names of the birds. However, Claudio knew the latin names of many species and that way we were able to communicate what each was seeing. Despite not getting to see the Wood-Partridges we had a good day of birding, with other birds seen including Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch, Bumblebee Hummingbird, Hooded Yellowthroat, White-winged Tanager, Bronze-winged Woodpecker, White-bellied Emerald, White-faced Quail-Dove (heard), Wedge-tailed Sabrewing, and Tropical Parula. We returned to Pedro’s house in the afternoon where he showed us two captive Wood-Partridges that he had in an aviary in his backyard. We spent much time watching these birds. That afternoon we took our car to a mechanic in town to have them work on the brakes. They did not finish until the following afternoon, so we were stuck in Coatepec until then. Pedro was gracious enough to let us stay at his house until our car was ready.
We highly recommend Pedro as a guide to search for the Wood-Partridges, he charged us 1000 pesos per person for the day, but he knew exactly where to find the Partridges, as well as most other species in the area. Keep in mind that he only speaks Spanish, as does his son. His contact information is in Howell.
24 July - We did not go birding this day, as we did not have access to the car, and we didn’t have enough money to pay Pedro for another day of birding. Once our car was fixed we drove to Las Barrancas and arrived well after dark. We spent some time looking for the Double-striped Thick-Knees in the fields just past the railroad crossing described in Howell. After some walking we eventually found a few small groups of birds calling and feeding in short-grass fields, where we were able to spotlight them and get excellent looks.
25 July – (10.5, 10.6) We birded along the dirt road signed “Las Barrancas 10” for most of the morning with good success. We saw Grassland Yellow-Finch, Aplomado Falcon, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Ochre and Orchard Orioles, Least Flycatcher, Double-striped Thick-Knee (easy to find in short grass fields), Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, and Brown-crested Flycatcher. Most of the birds were in the riparian stretches along the creek beds or out in the fields. Our most unusual bird here was a singing adult Western Meadowlark amongst the many Easterns.
In the late afternoon we started driving to The Sierra de los Tuxtlas. We arrived at Catemaco in the mid afternoon and continued on to Tebanca to try and get up to Bastonal. After talking to some locals, who gave us good directions to the road and also told us that it was impassable, we tried to get up the road as far as possible, but only made if a few kilometers. The road to Bastonal is the first left hand dirt road past Tebanca that goes steeply uphill through agricultural fields. We were told that the road to Manuel Hidalgo (which meets up with the road to Bastonal higher up and might be passable to vehicles) was a few km further down the road at a patch of planted pine trees. We then decided to try the road to Ejido Vista Hermosa (now signed to RMO Pipiapan), 4.3 km north of Catemaco on the left fork of the main road. This turned out to be an extremely productive road. We followed the road until we came to forest, which happened very suddenly, km 3.4 according to Howell, but we didn’t take a reading. We spent the rest of the day birding along this road up to a low pass and down the other side of the mountain for a few km until it became impassable. The edge of the forest was one of the birdiest areas, although a few flowering trees, and scattered mixed flocks made for exciting birding. A few small trails off into the forest were also worth walking, if hard to find. Birds along this road included: Bicolored Hawk, Black Hawk-Eagle (two adults), Maroon-chested Ground-Dove (heard), Tuxtla Quail-Dove (one heard), Aztec Parakeet, Central American Pygmy-Owl (heard), both Hermits, four Trogon species, Keel-billed Toucan, Tody Motmot (surprisingly common, well seen), Tawny-winged Woodcreeper (heard), Northern Royal-Flycatcher, Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush, Green Shrike-Vireo, Crimson-collared Tanager, Blue-black Grosbeak, and Plain-chested Brushfinch. We saw a few Ridgeway’s Rough-winged Swallows and a Snail Kite just north of Catemaco. We camped at a wide spot in the road near the top of the pass, and had Vermiculated Screech-Owl (heard) and Mottled Owl that night.
26 July – (10.6) The morning was spent birding along the same road as the day before, but with less success than the day before. We still managed to add a few good birds that we didn’t see the day before: White Hawk, Violet Sabrewing, Buff-throated Foliage-Gleaner, Stub-tailed Spadebill, Black-faced Grosbeak, Slate-breasted Tinamou (well seen, walking along the road as we were leaving the forest), Great Currasow (along a small trail, away from the main road), and Collared Forest-Falcon (heard), but still no Quail-Doves seen. We went back down to Catemaco around one PM to repair a flat tire and stock up on food and water before heading back up to Tebanca to start the hike to Bastonal. We drove up the road towards Bastonal (first left past Tebanca, see previous day) as far as we could, only about two km, and then parked the car off the road and started hiking. The road was completely impassable for most of its length (to vehicles), but walking was easy and it was fairly well marked. At higher elevations the road became no more than an overgrown grassy path, hard to separate from the surrounding fields. Most of the lower patches of forest were rather unproductive, but that may have been because of the time of day, however there seemed to be much more extensive agricultural land than described in Howell, and the habitat destruction was depressing. We made it about two hours up the road before it got dark and camped at what appeared to be an intersection between two roads near some cattle corrals. We heard, but never saw, a Northern Potoo that night.
27 July – (10.6) We woke up in the morning to a local man asking what a bunch of gringos were doing in the middle of nowhere. We talked with him for a while and he said that Bastonal was only just up the road over the next rise. He also said that the road to right at the intersection where we camped was the road to Manuel Hidalgo and eventually Tebanca, and evidenced by the fact that we saw a truck loaded with people higher up and going higher, I suspect that the road to Manuel Hidalgo might be passable to FWD. The road to the left was the one to Bastonal, which after breaking camp we hiked up for about another hour before we made it to extensive habitat. The first real patch of forest past Bastonal (which was just a few dilapidated houses) was bordering the right side of the trail past a smaller patch. Soon after arriving at the forest we heard a Quail-Dove calling far upslope, so we immediately started heading off trail upslope after it. Matt eventually spotted a single TUXTLA QUAIL-DOVE calling about 50 feet up a tree, where we all (after much difficulty) got excellent looks at this spectacular bird. The bird eventually dropped down onto the forest floor where we were able to get a few more good looks before it walked away upslope into the forest. We heard three other Quail-Doves calling in the area. Other birds here included: Long-tailed Sabrewing (the last of our Tuxtla endemics), Eye-ringed Flatbill, Tropical Pewee, Yellow-billed Cacique, and Plain-breasted Brushfinch. Earlier that morning we realized that we were completely out of water, so we wasted no time in heading back down the trail after we saw the doves. The hike back down took three hours, but we made it back to the car without anyone getting heat stroke. Bring plenty of water!! On the hike down we heard Ruddy Quail-Dove in one of the small forest patches. Once we got back to the car we drove down to Coatepec for lunch and then continued on to the Uxpanapa Road on the Veracruz/Oaxaca border. We got there in the late afternoon, scouted out the habitat, and birded along the road for a little while until it got dark. We camped on a side road just before the second bridge. That night we got amazing looks at a pair of Black-and-white Owls that responded to playback and sat in an open tree directly above our camp.
28 July – (10.7, 12.2, 12.3) Heading back toward the main road from the second river bridge in the morning we drove down the second dirt track on the south (left) side of the road. This road led back into a clearing with some planted fruit trees. The road ended on the far side of clearing and continued back into the woods as an inconspicuous trail. This trail quickly came into some good looking karst outcroppings, and almost immediately we found a singing NAVA’S WREN sitting on top of a large karst outcropping! We all got excellent looks at this bird, and of course we had left our recording equipment and cameras back at the car, so two of us rushed back there, got the equipment, came back, and of course the bird was gone. We spent a little bit of time waiting for it to start singing again, but it never did, and we didn’t see it after that. Other birds along this track and around our camp included: Great, Little, and Slaty-breasted Tinamous (all heard), Crested Guan (heard), Short-billed Pigeon, Green and Aztec Parakeets, White-bellied Emerald, Russet-crowned and Blue-crowned Motmots, Keel-billed Toucan, Rufous-breasted Spinetail (common), Long-billed Gnatwren, Great Antshrike, Mexican Antthrush (one came into playback, great looks), Passerini’s Tanager, Orange-billed Sparrow, and Variable Seedeater. From there we drove to Arriaga, Chiapas, arriving around three PM, and immediately continuing up into the foothills on Route 195/190. We stopped at likely looking wooded valleys where there was a place to pull over once we got into the foothills. At one of these valleys, which had a nice stream running through it, we found our targets: ROSITA’S BUNTING and Green-fronted Hummingbird. We also saw our first White-lored Gnatcatchers here. We then continued on down the coast to Puerto Arista. Once we arrived we drove the road to Cabeza del Toro and Boca del Cielo back and forth slowly and birding until it got dark. We eventually found a small flock of GIANT WRENS in amongst the houses. The whole area was very birdy with many waterbirds in the mangroves. Other birds present included: Great Black-Hawk, White-bellied Chachalaca, Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, Wood Stork, White Ibis, Least, Royal, Forster’s, and Gull-billed Terns, Northern Jacana, Cinnamon Hummingbird, Mangrove Cuckoo, Citreoline Trogon, Ruddy-breasted Seedeater, and Spot-breasted Oriole. After dinner in town, it started raining pretty hard, so we were not able to set up tents and ended up sleeping (or trying to) in the car on a dirt track out of town. It stopped raining sometime in the night, so we went to look for Pacific Screech-Owls, which we found pretty easily by simply driving slowly, stopping occasionally, and doing playback on small roads outside of town. We had one bird fly in and sit in a small dead tree right next to the car, offering great looks in the spotlight. Spent the rest of the night sleeping on the beach until sunrise. We ended the day with 131 species, our best day list for the trip.
29 July – (12.3, 12.5) We birded the same road towards Boca del Cielo in the morning until around nine AM. The main reason was to get better looks at White-bellied Chachalaca, but we also saw the same young Great Black-Hawk, and Pacific Parakeets, but the most unusual sighting was two juvenile Giant Cowbirds being fed by Yellow-winged Caciques. Howell & Webb does not list Giant Cowbirds as occurring on the Pacific coast of Chiapas. Perhaps this is a range expansion that we were simply not aware of. Otherwise we saw many of the same birds as the day before. Around nine we started driving towards Union Juarez and Volcan Tacana, arriving in the mid afternoon. We birded along the trail above town (see Howell for directions, well signed) for a few hours before dark, but we didn’t make it very far as there was a fair bit of activity and it was raining off and on. Birds around the trailhead included: Blue-tailed Hummingbird, Plain Wren, Rufous-collared Thrush, Brown-capped Vireo, Blue-crowned Chlorophonia (fly by, only seen by two people), Flame-colored Tanager, Golden and Hooded Grosbeaks, and Bar-winged Oriole. Once inside the forest a little further up the trail we saw Green-throated Mountain-Gem, Blue-throated Motmot, Yellowish Flycatcher, Rufous-browed Wren, Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush, and Mountain Thrush. A single male Blue Seedeater flushed off the trail before we got to the forest. We splurged on a hotel room, due to our lack of sleep the night before.
30 July – (12.5) Got a little bit of a late start. Spent the entire day hiking the trail above Union Juarez to the town of Tregales on the slopes of Volcan Tacana. The majority of the hike was through excellent cloud forest, and very birdy, so the going was slow. At the white obelisks described in Howell there is a fork in the trail and small tienda. The larger trail continues around the side of the Volcan, and a small windy trail leads up along the obelisks to higher elevation. We went straight for a little while, where got great looks at displaying male Wine-throated Hummingbirds in an overgrown clearing and Magnificent Hummingbird bathing in a stream. However, this trail eventually lead to a small town and less habitat at lower elevation, so we returned and followed the trail upslope along the obelisks, which eventually lead to Tregales. Keep in mind that this trail was rather steep and somewhat slippery, but well worth it. The town of Tregales had a small tienda with refreshments, where we stopped for a break before continuing upslope a little ways more. However, we didn’t make it very far above town as it started a torrential downpour, and we had to take shelter in what appeared to be a cattle shelter. The rain lasted a few hours, after which we continued upslope only a little ways further and then turned around as it was getting late. We got back to the car just as it was getting dark. It was a truly awesome hike, with lots of good birds and friendly people. The trail itself was very well worn, as people from the small mountain villages walked it every day to and from Union Juarez. The birds: White-bellied Chachalaca (heard at lower elevations), Mexican Whip-poor-will (flushed off a small side trail just bellow Tregales, well seen), Amethyst-throated, Garnet-throated, Blue-tailed, Wine-throated, and Magnificent Hummingbirds, Green-throated Mountain-Gem, Mountain Trogon, Emerald Toucanet, Blue-throated Motmot (heard), Hairy Woodpecker, Guatemalan Flicker, Spotted Woodcreeper, Paltry Tyrannulet, Black-throated Jay (three seen at lower elevations on the way down), Rufous-browed Wren, Orange-billed and Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrushes, Rufous-collared and Mountain Thrushes, Pink-headed Warbler (common and higher elevations), Crescent-chested Parula, Golden and Hooded Grosbeaks, Yellow-throated and Chestnut-capped Brushfinches, Guatemalan Junco, and Tennessee Warbler. Camped on a side road just bellow Union Juarez.
31 July - (12.5) Oscar’s birthday. We spent the morning birding the main road through plantations just bellow Union Juarez until around ten AM, after which we started driving to Lagos de Montebello. Birds along the main road included: Rufous-and-white Wren, Prevost’s Ground-Sparrow, Pale-billed Woodpecker, Paltry Tyrannulet, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, Yellow-naped Parrot, Green/Pacific Parakeet, and Guatemalan Flicker (heard). Our only birding stop on the way to Lagos de Montebello was a dirt road to the right just north of Motozintla that led up through some nice looking thorn forest. However, it was the middle of the day, so we didn’t see that much. We did see a Lesser Roadrunner, and heard a Canyon Wren. We arrived at Lagos de Montebello in the late afternoon, just before it got dark and camped at Lago Montebello. We had dinner at a small restaurant there, and had a fun night around the campfire. We heard what may have been Bearded Screech-Owls that night, but we were not sure, and we never saw them.
1 August – (12.7) We spent the majority of the day birding Lagos de Montebello, with limited success. The extent of the habitat destruction was very depressing. There was no apparent old growth left, and at best some scattered older second growth amongst young growth and clearings. Despite this we were still able to pick up a few species that we did not see elsewhere. The best habitat that we found was along the entrance road to Cinco Lagos and along the road to Tziscao and just past it (where we spent most of out time). Birds seen included: Stripe-tailed Hummingbird, Golden-olive Woodpecker, Unicolored and Azure-hooded Jays, Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush, Black Thrush, Slate-colored Solitaire, Chestnut-capped Warbler, Prevost’s Ground-Sparrow, and Yellow-backed Oriole. After birding Montebello we headed over to Chinkultic, where after much waiting we finally saw a male Slender Sheartail on the overgrown hillside just inside the entrance gate (34 pesos per person entrance fee). The habitat around ruins was somewhat birdy, but the ruins themselves were more interesting. In the mid afternoon we drove to San Cristobal de las Casas (arrived around 5 pm) and spent the rest of the afternoon walking around town, keeping an watchful eye skyward for Black-capped Swallows. We camped on the dirt track at km 2 of the Ocosingo Road. We checked this track briefly on our way into town, where we saw Blue-throated Motmot, Garnet-throated and Amethyst-throated Hummingbirds.
2 August – (12.8, 12.1) We woke up around 4 am to look for owls, but the most we could find was two Mottled Owls near camp. We then kept on driving up the Ocosingo Road to the Chanal Road, which we took until just past the town of Yalcuc. About one km past Yalcuc we took a dirt track to the right, which was just past a left bend in the road (we forgot to take an exact km reading). We slept here until dawn, when we heard a Whip-poor-will. We then drove the entire length of this track until around one pm. It lead to a town after many km, and went through some excellent habitat. At a likely looking place we played Montezuma Quail tapes, and we soon heard a similar call, which we assumed was that of Ocellated Quail, but we did not have recordings of them, so we couldn’t be sure. We tried doing whistled imitations, in combination with Montezuma Quail tapes as we tried to track down the calling birds, but with no success. It was probably getting to late in the day (the sun was getting intense, and bird activity was slowing down). We would have liked to stay an extra day here to try and find the birds that were calling, but we didn’t have the time. Early in the morning we saw and heard a Ruby-crowned Kinglet in a mixed warbler flock, a ridiculously early record! This is a bird that we are all extremely familiar with, and there were many Hutton’s Vireos around for direct comparison. Other birds along this track included: Northern Bobwhite, Garnet-throated Hummingbird, Pine Flycatcher, Guatemalan Flicker, Painted Whitestart, Olive Warbler, Pink-headed Warbler, “Perplexus” Pine Siskin, Red Crossbill, White-naped Brushfinch, Bar-winged Oriole, and Chiapas Junco. On the way back into San Cristobal we saw Black-capped Swallows nesting on the road cut/cliffs right above the road just before we got to town. We then continued on to Tuxtla Gutierrez and El Sumidero, where we arrived around 2:30 and spent the rest of the afternoon birding until dark. We drove and walked the main road all the way to the end, and stopped at most all of the pullouts and Miradors. There was truly spectacular scenery and awesome birding along the entire length of this road!
List of stops/sites:
Km 10.9: Pullout and trail on left side of road. Lots of activity here: Flammulated Flycatcher, Red-breasted Chat, Blue Seedeater (common), Plain-capped Starthroat, and Fan-tailed Warbler.
Last Mirador/end of road: Black-capped Swallow, Brown Pelican (eight along river).
Dirt track on right just past km 17: BELTED FLYCATCHER, right next to the road.
We walked along the main road around km 18: Belted Flycatcher (4), Golden-cheeked Warbler (SY male), Nutting’s Flycatcher, Maroon-chested Ground-Dove (heard), Collared Aracari, Red-breasted Chat, Thicket Tinamou (heard), and Bar-winged Oriole.
We then drove to Tehuantepec, Oaxaca and camped on a dirt track just west of town. It was late when we arrived, so I am not sure exactly where camped, although it was along a track to the south of the main road, just west of town.
3 August – (11.13, 11.14) We awoke to Lesser Ground-Cuckoos singing in the surrounding thorn forest. We set off in search of Ground-Cuckoos, which we all eventually saw after much effort, and some tape playback. While searching for Ground-Cuckoos we also saw: Orange-breasted and Varied Buntings, Sumichrast’s Sparrow (common), Nutting’s Flycatcher, Blue Grosbeak, and Orchard Oriole. We then drove to La Ventosa Lagoon, just east of Salina Cruz, one of the few places on the trip where we had a good selection of waterbirds: American White Pelican, Brown Booby, Reddish Egret, Tricolored Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Black, Royal, Sandwich, Least, and Gull-billed Terns, Roseate Spoonbill, White Ibis, Black-necked Stilt, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Least Sandpiper, Willet, Long-billed Curlew, Whimbrel, Spotted Sandpiper, Marbled Godwit, Mangrove Swallow, and Lesser Ground-Cuckoo (heard). We then went into town for lunch, and came back later to do a seawatch, where we had many of the same birds, but added Black Skimmer and Blue-footed Booby (seven individuals flying by). There was also an abnormal Laughing Gull here, with a bright orange bill and legs. From here we started driving to Puerto Angel, Oaxaca. We stopped and went birding on a dirt track signed to “Playa Grande” around km 285.5. We drove this road until it reached a small town on the beach, and it went through excellent thorn forest on the way. Birds here included: Lilac-crowned and White-fronted Parrots, Doubleday’s Hummingbird, Citreoline Trogon, Russet-crowned Motmot, Rufous-naped Wren, Red-breasted Chat, Orange-breasted and Blue Buntings, Sumichrast’s Sparrow, and Orchard Oriole. We then continued on to Puerto Angel. When we arrived we found the man mentioned in Howell’s book that was willing to take birders out in a skiff for a day’s worth of pelagic birding. After some trouble we found his restaurant (and him) and made the arrangements for the following day’s pelagic trip. Camped on the beach.
4 August (11.10) We awoke at 5:30 to meet our boat captain, Beto for the day’s pelagic trip. He had one of the largest skiffs in the harbor, and could have easily fit 8-10 people in the boat. Beto was an excellent driver, and always willing to head towards where we wanted to go. We made it about twenty miles offshore, and had a very successful trip. On the way back we stopped by a roosting rock a few miles up the coast from Puerto Angel, which had many roosting boobies. Complete trip list below:
Wedge-tailed Shearwater – 25
Galapagos (Audubon’s) Shearwater – 9
Townsend’s Shearwater – 2
Christmas Shearwater – 1
Black Storm-Petrel – 12
Least Storm-Petrel – 6
Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel – 90
Brown Booby – 35 (plus 70 on the rock)
Red-footed Booby – 1 Juvenile offshore
Blue-footed Booby – 1 Adult on the rock
Masked Booby – 1 Juvenile offshore
Red Phalarope – 3
Sooty Tern – 3
Black Tern – 35
Sabine’s Gull – 12
Laughing Gull – 2
Magnificent Frigatebird – 1 (plus 15 at the rock)
Brown Pelican –2 on the rock
Green Sea Turtle – 60
Bottlenose Dolphin – 90
Flying Fish – 10
We never saw flocks of shearwaters, but many scattered individuals. The Red-footed Booby was initially seen flying away from the boat, and after about a ten-minute high-speed chase, we were able to catch up to it and get great looks and video. The Masked Booby simply appeared out of nowhere and flew directly over the boat. The Storm-Petrels were in small scattered groups seen all day. We would recommend bringing lots of water, and if you are susceptible to heat, to head back in before midday, as it gets very hot out there. We came back in during the early afternoon, because we made it so far our (approximately twenty miles offshore). We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing on the beach at Puerto Angel, and left around 5 pm for La Soledad. We camped on a small dirt track around km 193, just before the turnoff for “Pluma Hidalgo.” The track was on the left (west) side of the road.
5 August (11.9, 11.3) Heard Mottled Owls around camp that night. We birded the track that we camped on first thing in the morning, with excellent success. Birds seen included: White-faced Quail Dove (heard), Cinnamon-sided Hummingbird, Blue-capped Hummingbird, Wagler’s Toucanet, Grey-crowned Woodpecker, Eye-ringed Flatbill, Barred Wren, Golden Vireo, and Dickey’s Oriole. We then broke camp at 8:45 and started slowly working our way towards Oaxaca City, stopping frequently to bird. Various stops at good-looking habitat between camp to just past La Soledad: White-faced Quail-Dove (one seen), Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl (seen), Blue-capped Hummingbird, Wagler’s Toucanet, Green Jay, Golden Vireo, Elegant Euphonia, Black-headed Siskin, and Dickey’s Oriole. At the small restaurant (Loma Vista) near El Mirador Luke saw a Sparkling-tailed Woodstar, which the rest of us missed. Km 159 between Oaxaca City and Puerto Angel: Red and Black-and-White Warblers, and Rufous-capped Brushfinch. When we arrived at Oaxaca City, we went to Teotitlan Del Valle and picked up Eric Antonio Martinez at his house. We then went to Yagul for the rest of the afternoon, and birded there until it got dark. There was a chain across the road to the ruins, so we stopped there and walked along a dirt track to the right that went into some riparian and marshy habitat, and eventually into the scrub on the surrounding hillsides. We spent the night at Eric’s House in Teotitlan. Birds at Yagul included: Virginia Rail (heard), Great Horned Owl (heard), Dusky Hummingbird, Beautiful Sheartail, Grey-breasted Woodpecker, White-throated Flycatcher, Cassin’s Kingbird, Boucard’s Wren, American Robin, Rufous-backed Thrush, White-throated Towhee, Cinnamon-rumped Seedeater, Bridled Sparrow, Black-vented and Orchard Orioles.
6 August (11.2, 11.1) We birded with Eric all day. First we went up into the hills above Teotitlan del Valle along the road past the reservoir (Presa Piedra Azul) described in Howell. We headed up into the hills for a good ways, until we got into some oak habitat, and then we headed back down into town. Birds here included: West Mexican Chachalaca, Least Grebe, Dusky Hummingbird, Green Kingfisher, Greenish Elaenia, Least Flycatcher, Boucard’s Wren, Blue Mockingbird, Golden Vireo, Gray Silky, White-throated Towhee, Cinnamon-rumped Seedeater, Bridled and Oaxaca Sparrows, and Black-vented Oriole. We then drove through Oaxaca City to Monte Alban, arriving around 11:30, so bird life was rather slow, but we still managed to find most of our targets. From just outside the entrance of Monte Alban, we walked various inconspicuous trails to the left and right, with most of the birds being down the hillside to the right, including: Dusky Hummingbird, Pileated Flycatcher, Boucard’s Wren, Blue Mockingbird, Ocellated Thrasher (Luke only), Slaty Vireo, White-throated Towhee, and Cinnamon-rumped Seedeater. We then dropped Eric off at his house, and then returned to Oaxaca City to run errands before heading north out of town to La Cumbre. We camped at the end of the microwave tower road on the Southeast side of the highway. That night we heard Whiskered Screech-Owl (Charlie) and Mexican Whip-Poor-Will (Oscar).
7 August (11.5, 11.6, 11.7) Awoke to a spectacular sunrise over the surrounding valleys. However, Matt and Charlie spent the night with a badly upset stomach, which continued into the day. We birded the microwave tower road early and then crossed the highway and took the Northwest Road to look for Dwarf Jays. As expected, there was a man waiting at the gate to charge us for entry onto the road. We attempted to bargain a price, but with no luck. The sun warmed up the area quite early, and bird activity slowed tremendously once it got warm, which made it very hard to look for the jays. Oscar eventually found a flock of Steller’s Jays and Grey-barred Wrens that contained two DWARF JAYS. This was just past the first major dirt track to the left and signs for a campground. Other birds seen here included: Long-tailed Wood-Partridge (heard), Amethyst-throated Hummingbird, Hairy Woodpecker, Mexican Chickadee, Russet Nightingale-Thrush, Olive, Hermit, Crescent-chested, and Red Warblers, White-throated Towhee, Chestnut-capped and Rufous-capped Brushfinches, and Unicolored Jay.
We then continued driving towards Valle Nacional on Highway 175 and made frequent stops to bird along the highway from km 108-102. Around km 101-102 there was a dirt track to the right signed for a waterfall. We birded this road down the stream crossing and had good looks at White-faced Quail-Dove along the first 100 meters of the track, and three more DWARF JAYS just past a chain across the road (this chain prevented car traffic on the road). We spent the rest of the day from km 82-79. Luke had brief looks at a male Emerald-chinned Hummingbird, but no one else saw it, and we couldn’t manage to find one in the next day of birding there. We camped along a dirt track to Rosalia a few km down the road. Heard Central American Pygmy-Owl that night. Other birds seen from km 108-79: Crested Guan, Blue Ground-Dove (heard), Wedge-tailed Sabrewing, Amethyst-throated, Garnet-throated, and Bumblebee Hummingbirds, Spot-crowned and Spotted Woodcreepers, Yellow-bellied Tyrannulet (heard), Stub-tailed Spadebill, Unicolored Jay, Mexican Chickadee, Grey-barred Wren, Slate-colored Solitaire, Red and Olive Warblers, Yellow-winged Tanager, and White-naped Brushfinch.
8 August (11.7) We spent most of the day birding and walking the highway between km 78-81.5 looking mainly for Chlorophonias and Emerald-chinned Hummingbirds. We found two Chlorophonias, but not the hummingbird. Other birds along this stretch of road: Plain Chachalaca (heard), Spotted Wood-Quail (heard), Blue Ground-Dove, White-faced Quail-Dove, Brown-hooded and White-crowned Parrots, Stripe-throated Hermit, Amethyst-throated and Garnet-throated Hummingbirds, Collared Trogon, Emerald Toucanet, Spectacled and Buff-throated Foliage-Gleaners, Slate-colored Solitaire, Tawny-throated Leaftosser (heard), Eye-ringed Flatbill, Blue-crowned Motmot, Barred Antshrike, Unicolored and Brown Jays, both Wood-Wrens, Brown-throated Wren, Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush, Red Warbler, Blue-crowned Chlorophonia, Yellow-winged and Flame-colored Tanagers, White-naped Brushfinch, and Yellow-faced Grassquit. We eventually started driving towards Guerrero via Oaxaca City. We stopped at km 203-206 near Oaxaca City to look for Dwarf Vireos, which we eventually found along a small trail up a gulley near km 206, after walking the main road for a few km with no luck. Other birds here: Slaty and Golden Vireos, Rufous-capped Warbler, Blue Mockingbird, Red-headed Tanager, Oaxaca Sparrow, White-throated Towhee, Boucard’s Wren, Lesser Roadrunner, Gray-breasted Woodpecker, and Black-vented Oriole. We then drove through the night to get to the Sierra de Atoyac in Guerrero, arriving around 0500 the next day. We slept for a few hours along the road just past Chichihualco until passersby woke us up around 0700.
9 August (9.2) We spent all day birding the (dirt) road between Chichihualco and Carrizal de Los Bravos. The lower reaches of this road started in thorn forest and transitioned through dry oak forest, and eventually up to higher humid montane pine-oak around Carrizal de Los Bravos. Birds along this road (in no particular order or in relation to habitat): Black, Chestnut-collared, White-throated, and Great Swallow-tailed Swifts, Long-billed Starthroat, Dusky, Violet-crowned, and Violet-throated (Amethyst-throated) Hummingbirds, Sparkling-tailed Woodstar (flower banks at mid elevations), Mountain Trogon, Wagler’s Toucanet, Hammond’s and Dusky Flycatchers, Thick-billed Kingbird, Grey-collared and Rose-throated Becards, Bridled Titmouse, White-lored Gnatcatcher, Boucard’s, Happy, Sinaloa, Canyon, and Brown-throated Wrens, Blue Mockingbird, Slaty Vireo, Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo, Red-headed Tanager, Red Warbler, Black-headed Siskin, Collared Towhee, Rusty-crowned Ground-Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Bullock’s Oriole, Dickey’s Oriole, Northern Goshawk (two), and Plumbeous Vireo.
We went a few km past Carrizal hoping for White-throated Jay, but no luck (to late in the day at that point). We stopped at numerous places along the road throughout the day, and had a very successful day. The Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireos were singing at a sharp left turn in the road 11.1 km past the turnoff to Yextla. We headed back down to Chilpancingo around 5 pm to get gasoline, food, water, and check internet before heading back up into the mountains around 10:30. We drove up the main road towards Xochipala and Filo de Caballo to look for Balsas Screech-Owls. We tried along the main road for a few km above the main highway (hwy 95), so between highway 95 and Xochipala. We heard two birds at one pullout near a dry streambed, one of which was extremely close by, but a truck came by at just the wrong time, and the bird never called again. We camped in the streambed that night, and heard Screech-Owls during the night, but were way to tired to look for them. We also heard a Great Horned Owl and a Pygmy-Owl (Colima?).
10 August (9.2) Awoke a little late and spent about an hour around camp birding the streambed. Orange-breasted Bunting, Black-chested Sparrow, Sinaloa and Happy Wrens, Dusky Hummingbird, and Colima Pygmy-Owl (heard) were around camp. We spent the rest of the day driving and birding the road past Xochipala to Filo de Caballo and Carrizal de Los Bravos looking for Banded Quail and White-throated Jay. The road was paved as far as Filo, but was easily passable past there. We reset our odometers at Xochipala, so all readings for this day use that as km zero. Km 0.8: We stopped here at a bend in the road and walked down through the open scrub and bordering farmland to look for Banded Quail, which we heard pretty quickly, and after much waiting we all got good looks at. There were also Black-chested Sparrows here. At km 7.9 there was a single male Golden-crowned Emerald. A few more stops at these lower elevations produced little, so we headed up higher. At km 50.0 (1.1 km before the turnoff to Yextla) we stopped and walked along a small dirt track that headed off to the right at a left turn in the road, and just as we were returning to the car we found a single White-throated Jay high in a conifer upslope! Along this track there were also Mountain Trogon and Violet-throated Hummingbird. This was around 6 pm, so we then headed back down to just bellow Filo de Caballo and found a good pullout, had dinner, and waited until it got dark. We then spent a few hours looking for Eared Poorwills and Stygian Owls (unsuccessfully) along the main road and some side roads. We did manage to find a pit viper along the road, which we took lots of photos of. Camped in a pullout along the main road somewhere between Filo and Carrizal.
11 August (9.2) Had a late start breaking camp. We birded a little bit around camp (with limited success) before heading over the mountains towards Paraiso, arriving just before dark. We didn’t bird much along the way, except for stopping occasionally where we heard mixed flocks. We did see a single juvenile Northern Goshawk and had good looks at Greater Swallow-tailed Swifts at a lookout somewhere along the way. The road was very passable with 2WD all the way to Puente (?) de Gallo, but it got pretty muddy after there, and until we got to Nuevo Delhi (4WD absolutely necessary, and high clearance would have been nice). We stopped at a beautiful fir forest at higher elevations, and Luke saw Golden-crowned Kinglets, but no one else saw them. The drive over the mountains was absolutely spectacular, and we would highly recommend it to anyone with the time and proper vehicle. The roads were in good condition until Nuevo Delhi, and there were numerous small towns along the way. People were happy to point us in the right direction whenever we asked (rarely, as the roads were fairly well marked), and there was usually gasoline, even in the smaller towns, although you had to hunt around to find it. We had dinner in Paraiso and camped on a dirt track just bellow town. Heard Mottled Owls that night.
12 August (9.2) We changed a flat tire in the morning, and then spent the rest of the day birding the Arroyo Grande track just above Paraiso (see directions in Howell) looking for Coquettes. We walked the road, as it was completely impassable by car. We didn’t have any luck with Coquettes, but the road itself was very birdy. We walked about five km down the road, and then down another dirt track to the left for about four km, but that was pretty slow. The walk back to the car was also pretty slow, but the undoubted highlight being an juvenile Black Hawk-Eagle that flew down slope right in front of us, offering excellent views. Birds along the track included: Ticket Tinamou (heard), Singing Quail (heard), White-faced Quail-Dove, Lilac-crowned Parrot, Chimney Swift (four well seen with Vaux’s), Long-billed Starthroat, Mexican Hermit, Golden-crowned Emerald, White-tailed Hummingbird, Wagler’s Toucanet, Smoky-brown Woodpecker, Olivaceous and Barred Woodcreepers, Ruddy Foliage-Gleaner, Eye-ringed Flatbill, Boat-billed Flycatcher, Elegant Euphonia, Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, and Dickey’s Oriole. We then birded the road towards Nuevo Delhi until it got dark, without much luck. We did get good looks at the Hermit and Emerald though. Had dinner in Paraiso and camped on the Arroyo Grande Track.
13 August (9.2) We birded the road above Paraiso in the morning, but soon got a flat tire about five km above town and had to walk the tire back in to town, get it fixed, walk back to the car. Luckily someone gave us a ride part of the way back to the car. Spent the rest of the day birding the road between San Vicente and Paraiso, checking all flower banks hoping for a Coquette, but again, no luck. Other birds seen: Collared Forest-Falcon (heard), Black Hawk-Eagle (adult), Bat and Laughing (heard) Falcons, Thicket Tinamou (heard), Singing Quail (heard), Lilac-crowned Parrot, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Black and Chestnut-collared Swifts, Mexican Hermit, Long-billed Starthroat, White-tailed and Green-fronted Hummingbirds, Collared Trogon, Wagler’s Toucanet, Smoky-brown and Pale-billed Woodpeckers, Bright-rumped Attila, Boat-billed Flycatcher, Yellow-green Vireo, Fan-tailed Warbler, Rusty-crowned Ground-Sparrow, Rusty Sparrow, and Dickey’s Oriole. Around 5 pm we drove to Chilpancingo, arriving around 10 pm. We had dinner there, and then went to look for Screech-Owls again, at the same spot where we heard them a few nights previously (1.4 km from the libre highway on the turnoff towards Filo de Caballo). At that spot there is a pullout on the right side of the road just before a sharp left turn in the road. Just before the pullout there is a small dirt track to the right that leads down into a dry streambed. We walked the streambed to the left (upstream) towards where we heard calls in response to playback. We eventually saw a pair of Balsas Screech-Owls that came into a combination of whistled imitations, a poor recording (from the internet), Pacific Screech-Owl tapes, and a good recording that we got of that pair calling. We were careful not to overdo it though. We detected four owls here, and saw two.
14-19 August. We started driving towards Mexico City for Matt and Charlie’s flights home. Unfortunately the car broke down at a toll station about 40 km south of Cuernavaca, so we got the Green Angels to push us to the next available mechanic, which was somewhere around 5-10 km toward Cuernavaca. We ended up having to leave the car there and took a bus to Mexico City where Luke and Oscar spend the next three days with Oscar’s relatives in Mexico City waiting for the car to get fixed. Matt and Charlie flew home on the 15th. The car was ready to go on the morning of the 18th, so we caught a bus down to where the car was, and started driving towards Mazatlan! We stopped at Nevado de Toluca to look for Strickland’s Woodpeckers, but it was getting dark and we couldn’t find any. We then drove pretty much straight to Mazatlan, arriving in the late afternoon of the 19th. Camped at the La Noria Road.
20 August (5.3, 5.4) We birded the La Noria Road in the morning, and then headed up the Durango Highway for the rest of the day, birding the highway from km 211-209, La Petaca Road, and the Microondas Loberas. At the La Noria Road our main target was Purplish-backed Jay, which we found along the track to the south around km 2.5. We didn’t head very far into the hills, but spent most of our time exploring the lower elevations and side roads. On of these to the north had a small lake on the side of the road, which was rather productive. Other birds on the La Noria Road: Laughing Falcon (heard), Rufous-bellied Chachalaca, Elegant Quail, Black Swift, Plain-capped Starthroat, Black-throated Magpie-Jay, Sinaloa Crow, Black-capped Gnatcatcher, Happy Wren, Rufous-backed Thrush, Yellow Warbler, Grayish Saltator, Painted and Varied Buntings, Yellow-winged Cacique, and Orchard Oriole. Km 211-209 produced many birds by just stopping at pullouts wherever we could and birding the highway: Mountain Trogon, White-striped Woodcreeper, Spotted Wren, Tufted Flycatcher, Bridled Titmouse, Brown-throated Wren, Russet and Orange-billed N-Thrushes, Gray Silky, Olive, Red, Grace, Rufous-capped, Black-throated Gray, Hermit, Black-and-white, Red-faced, and Crescent-chested Warblers, both Whitestarts, and Red-headed Tanager. The La Petaca Road was pretty slow when we drove it, but it proved to be more productive the following day. At the Microondas Loberas we found our first (of seven) flocks of TUFTED JAYS. These spectacular birds were surprisingly easy to find over the course of the next few days.
21 August (5.4, 5.6) Full day on the Durango Highway, and it was nice and clear. Started at the Microondas (more Tufted Jays), then to the La Petaca Road, where we found seven Military Macaws in the second major valley. Other birds here: Arizona Woodpecker, Greenish Elaenia, Spotted Wren, Grayish Saltator, Pine Flycatcher, Plumbeous Vireo, Louisiana Waterthrush, and Red Crossbill. A quick stop at km 216 produced another flock of Tufted Jays and a flock of five Evening Grosbeaks flying overhead. We then went exploring some of the many logging roads off of the the Microondas Loberas road, and found many birds down in the valleys, where we had Black and White-naped Swifts, Mountain Trogon, Arizona Woodpecker, Masked Tityra, Tufted Jay, Spotted Wren, Easter Bluebird, Cassin’s Vireo, lots of warblers, and Red-headed Tanager. It then started pouring rain, so we headed to the Barranca Rancho Liebre to wait out the rain, which took a few hours. After it stopped raining we hiked to overlook over the Barranca, stayed until dusk, and hiked back to the car in the dark. Camped somewhere near km 214. Birds at the Barranca: Mountain Pygmy, Whiskered Screech, and Stygian Owls (all heard), Magnificent Hummingbird, Tufted Jay, many of the usual warblers, Red-headed and Hepatic Tanagers, Black-headed Siskin, and Brown Creeper.
22 August (5.6) Birded the Barranca Rancho Liebre trail until around 0900, and then started driving towards Saltillo, Nuevo Leon. Birds that morning: Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s Hawks, Crested Guan (heard), Blue-throated and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, Mountain Trogon, Pine Flycatcher, Tufted Jay, White-throated Thrush, Warblers, Black-headed Siskin, and Green-striped and Rufous-capped Brushfinches. We stopped occasionally along the drive, where we saw what looked like decent birding near the road. Stopped in Durango for amenities, and camped near Hedondia Grande, just south of Saltillo, Nuevo Leon. Birds of note on the drive: Just west of Llano Grande, Durango: Cinnamon Teal, Mexican Duck, Blue Grosbeak. 22 km west of Durango: Eurasian Collared-Dove. Small lake 27 km northeast of Durango: Mexican Duck, Shoveler, Greater Yellowlegs, Baird’s Sandpiper, Avocet, Stilt, Long-billed Curlew, Wilson’s Phalarope, Laughing Gull, Cassin’s Kingbird.
23 August (3.3) Birded Hedondia Grande until 0920 looking for Worthen’s Sparrow, but without any luck. We then started driving to Houston. Birds at Hedondia: Harris Hawk, Golden Eagle, Prairie Falcon, Scaled Quail, Greater Roadrunner, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Long-billed Curlew, Vermilion Flycatcher, Western Meadowlark, Cave Swallow, Chihuahuan Raven, Phainopepla, Black-chinned, Cassin’s, and Botteri’s Sparrows, Baird’s Sandpiper, and Scott’s Oriole. We had some hassles at the border, but eventually got across all right, although it took a few hours. Slept at a rest stop somewhere on the way to Houston.
24 August. Woke early and continued to Houston. Birded High Island from 0930-1600. Eubanks Woods: Eastern Wood-Pewee, Least and Great-crested Flycatchers, Red-eyed Vireo, Blue Jay, Carolina Chickadee and Wren, Brown Thrasher, Black-throated Gray, Yellow-throated, Black-and-white, Prothonotary, and Hooded Warblers, Northern Parula, Cardinal, Painted Bunting, and Orchard Oriole. High Island Beaches and marshes to the west towards Galveston: Neotropic Cormorant, Reddish Egret, Little Blue Heron, White Ibis, Mottled Duck, Clapper Rail, various shorebirds, six Tern species, Common Nighthawk, and Eastern Kingbird. Anahuac NWR: Little Blue and Tricolored Herons, White and White-faced Ibis, Wood Stork, Mottled Duck, both Whistling-Ducks, Purple Gallinule, Common Nighthawk, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Marsh Wren, and Boat-tailed Grackle.
25 August. Oscar’s flight home, and Luke started driving home.
American White Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture
West Mexican Chachalaca
Great Horned Owl
Central American Pygmy-Owl
Great Swallow-tailed Swift
Western Long-tailed Hermit
Northern Royal Flycatcher
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Ridgeway's Rough-winged Swallow
Southern House Wren
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler