04 Feb 04 Tuxtepec, Oaxaca, Mexico
Once again, we were up at 6:00 AM to meet Roque, our guide, for early birding. Dawn found us at some smaller reservoirs on the Oaxaca-Tuxtepec Road, Mexico 175. It was fairly quiet there, but a little further along, birding a trail along a small creek a short distance into the mountains, we found Oaxaca's endemic Oaxaca Sparrow, a reclusive bird. The same area gave us a Berylline Hummingbird, Greenish Elaina and Tufted Flycatcher, among many others. While cars and trucks roared by on the highway across the creek, woodcutters with machetes and six burros headed up the trail to harvest firewood.
We stopped for lunch at an exceptionally nice restaurant just north of the El Cumbre junction. Dining outdoors, we watched Steller's Jays, White-earred Hummingbirds and a Hermit Thursh as we enjoyed a late breakfast or early lunch.
We made a few stops to bird along the road, picking up a Bumblebee Hummingbird, but mostly drove. The highway drops down to the Rio Grande valley, which gives every sign of being a major strike-slip fault, and then climbed back up, even higher into the northern half of the mountains. The road down to the coastal plain was an amazingly twisty ride, although, as it turned out, a pale shadow of the road to the Pacific Coast.
The road finally straightened a bit at the Rio Nacional, and at the small village of Ville Nacional we stopped and did some serious birding along the river. In the village itself we encounted an amazingly tame Crested Guan. At the river, the birding was quite good and only twilight forced us on down the road to Tuxtepec. We gradually acquired an entourage of village children. While they thought it was fun to peer through the scope, it was more fun to play soccer with Nancy.
We assumed, from the map, that Tuxtepec would be a sleepy little farm town. It's not. About half a million people live there. Major industries include a sugar cane refinery and a huge Corona Brewery. The town is a supply center the entire central coastal plain, from Veracruz to Villahermosa. It's not your typical birding destination.
We stayed at Hotel El Rancho, whch, importantly, not only has air conditioning in the rooms but an air conditioned restaurant. This is a muggy part of the world between noon and 3 PM.
Nancy makes friends with a Crested Guan
|While Howell & Webb describe the Crested Guan as scarce and "rarely seen on the ground," this guy was willing to pose on the hood of Roque's Wagoneer and was unconcerned about Nancy. The villagers seemed as surprised as we were.
Kids try to see what the fuss is about
|Children of the village Ville Nacional try out the scope, curious about the fuss. They were looking at a pair of Golden-fronted Woodpeckers, and plainly had prior experience with a scope. This was one of the few places in Oaxaca where bugs were a problem. Very small, biting flies chewed us to pieces; the repellent was back in the truck.
HERONS, EGRETS AND BITTERNS
Little Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
NEW WORLD VULTURES
HAWKS, EAGLES AND KITES
FALCONS AND CARACARAS
GUANS, CHACHALACAS AND CURASSOWS
PIGEONS AND DOVES
|CROWS AND JAYS
VIREOS AND ALLIES
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
SISKINS, CROSSBILLS AND ALLIES
NEW WORLD WARBLERS
BUNTINGS, SPARROWS, TANAGERS, ALLIES
BLACKBIRDS, GRACKLES, ORIOLES