05 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 a half-cultivated, half-wild area between two limestone ridges. The dirt road had fairly high levels of traffic, including long chains of sugar cane trailers pulled by tractors, empty coming in and seriously over-filled going out. But off the road it was quieter and the patches of native forest and field margins were good to very good birding. Indigo Bunting and Painted Bunting, the latter in breeding plumage, Northern Parula, many Groove-billed Anis and a Squirrel Cuckoo were some of the highlights. There was patchy fog early but it burnt off pretty early.
Next we went to the dam at Presa Miguel Aleman. We were treated to very close views of a Roadside Hawk perched on the inner rip-rap face of the earth-fill dam. There were also Amazon, Belted and Green Kingfishers, all fishing with some success in the old river channel below the dam. The dam itself does not inspire confidence; there are sag points along the top that are alarming. We drove to a very small village at the northerly end of the dam, and watched a group of residents try to load two large, deeply unhappy cattle into the back of a small Nissan pickup. The whole process was amusing, sad and incredibly dangerous for those involved.
By that time, the temperature and humidity were both moving into the 90's F, so we took a siesta until 4 PM and then headed out again, this time to the limestone foothills near Tenango. In the late afternoon birding started slow, but became spectacular. At one point, we had a Keel-billed Toucan, a Turquoise-browed Motmot and three Crimson-collared Tanagers in the same tree. As the light failed, were were joined by a couple from Scotland who were on a month-long birding trip to Oaxaca.
Rainforest vegetation on limestone hills
Near Tuxtepec, Oaxaca
|The roads near Tuxtepec wind around limestone hills and ridges. Most of the valley floor is pretty intensively cultivated, but the hills themselves and the narrower valleys between them tend to have remnants of the rainforest. The tree sizes are too small, in most cases, for it to be original growth. At least in this part of Mexico, there are only small remnants of the original forest.
Nancy scopes the reservoir
Presa Miguel Aleman, Oaxaca
|Considering that it was the second half of the dry season when we were there, the larger dams still impounded an impressive amount of water. If the nearby village was any indication, water levels were within 2-3 meters of their maximum. While there were a lot of fish in the reservoir - we could see large schools of fingerlings - there were not a large number of birds.
American White Pelican
HERONS, EGRETS AND BITTERNSLittle Blue Heron
NEW WORLD VULTURES
HAWKS, EAGLES AND KITES
FALCONS AND CARACARAS
GUANS, CHACHALACAS AND CURASSOWS
West Mexican Chachalaca
GULLS AND TERNS
PIGEONS AND DOVES
NEW WORLD CUCKOOS
TROGONS AND QUETZALS
CROWS AND JAYS
VIREOS AND ALLIES
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
NEW WORLD WARBLERS
BUNTINGS, SPARROWS, TANAGERS, ALLIES
BLACKBIRDS, GRACKLES, ORIOLES