Mexico Travel Diary - p 1 of 2

Grey-silky.jpg (324449 bytes) 23 March 2013
Do you pine for the simple life?  It can be found along Hwy 175 in the mountains of Oaxaca state, Mexico.  Here is freedom!  No cell phone service, no banks, no gas stations, and no straight roads.
    Yesterday I arrived at Aeropuerto Internacional Huatulco, down on the coast, and drove my little Chevy rental car north up Hwy 175 into Sierra Madre del Sur.   Countless curves, potholes, and topes (speedbumps) later, I arrived at Puesta del Sol, a rustic lodge at a cool 8700' elevation.
   This morning's photo shoot began with Grey-Silkies, who perched on conifers and glided down for a breakfast of Pyracantha berries.
    This bird has an easy life:  fresh mountain air, lots of fruit, and cohorts with whom to socialize.  It was earlier called Grey-Silky Flycatcher, but the last part of its name was dropped, perhaps because it is not related to our tyrant flycatchers. 





After a breakfast highlighted by papaya slices and fresh-squeezed orange juice, I drove a side road down into a steep canyon.  With pines, shrubs, and a small stream, It looked like my favorite birding hotspot, Barranca Rancho Liebre in Sinaloa state.
     But there were few birds here.  The Red Warblers, my target species,  were scarce & shy, always too far away.  Even the normally confiding Slate-throated Redstarts were stand-offish.  Sometimes an hour would pass in the afternoon with neither sight nor sound of bird.
    Late in the day I found Golden-browed Warbler, a skulker along the stream vegetation.  The light here was so dim that even with ISO 1000 and fill flash, I  managed only a slow 1/100" exposure.


Golden-browed-Warbler2.jpg (326002 bytes)
Pine Flycatcher.jpg (234787 bytes) Soon I'm desperate to photograph any bird, even a little Empidonax flycatcher hawking insects near a bridge.  This one may be a Pine Flycatcher.
25 March 2013
Yesterday I drove down the mountain to subtropical Pluma Hidalgo and the resort Finca Don Gabriel.  It sits perched on a ridge, with a fine view out over the foothills all the way to the ocean.  A remote hideaway, there are no locks on the doors to the rooms here.
   The bird that more than any other symbolizes the Pacific lowlands here is White-throated Magpie-Jay.  A roving gang of the garrulous birds visited just after dawn.  Joining it were Emerald Toucanets, Orange-fronted Parakeets, and Audubon's Oriole.


WT-Magpie-Jay.jpg (527151 bytes)
Tityra3.jpg (285818 bytes) Probably for good reason, you don't see many white birds in a forest.  This one, Masked Tityra, not only looks odd, but has a hoarse, buzzy call, described in A Guide to the Birds of Mexico as "zzr zzzrt."  Once you hear it, you always know when a tityra is around.
The commonest warbler gleaning insects from trees at the edge of the finca's terrace was Black-throated Green, this one an immature.



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Townsend's-Warbler.jpg (264432 bytes)