03 Feb 04 Oaxaca City, Oaxaca, Mexico
Once again, we were up at 6:00 AM to meet Roque, our guide, for early birding. Dawn found us on the lower slopes of the Teotitlan-Benito Juarez Road. This is Roque's home ground and he knows the trails, fields and seasonal ponds very well. We birded desert brush and a seasonal pond - mostly dried up now - and then headed up to a dam and a small reservoir. We found our first waterfowl and a few shorebirds there. We birded up the muddy inlet stream with less success.
After a morning of birding we drove back down to the Pan American Highway south and east of Oaxaca City - not that far away - for a fine lunch at a restaurant not far from the junction. We shopped El Encanto for excellent hand-crafted rugs made by the Martinez family just outside Teotitlan. By hand-crafted, I mean that the wool is hand-carded, hand spun, dyed using only natural material, and then woven into beautiful rugs on hand-powered looms. We bought several.
After doing our part to support the Teotitlan economy, we drove back up the Teotitlan Road to the Oak to Pine forest transition zone, and the Jiraguera Arroyo. Very good to excellent birding up the little canyon, including a Mountain Trogon seriously intoxicated on berries from a tree. The berry tree was full of birds - Aztec Thrush, Clay-colored Robin, White-throated Robin and many others - and the Mountain Trogon basically fell out of the tree. We watched as his head swung back and forth, and he teetered forward and back. If there had been a predator around, he would have been meat. As it was, after half an hour of drunken stumbling and clumsy attempts to fly, he managed to fly off to apparent safety. On the way down, a noisy pair of West Mexican Chachalacas moved up the hillside just above us. And back at the road, a Blue Mockingbird flirted with us in the roadside brush.
After a long, bumpy drive back, and a Mexican adventure in between two converging buses, we had dinner fashionably late at the Hotel Victoria.
Dry Pine Habitat near El Cumbre
Crest of Sierra Madre del Sur
|The rain shadow of the Sierra Madre Occidental, blocking the moist winds of the Gulf of Mexico to the north, is the dominant force in the habitats of the Valles Centrale. The dry pine habitat shown to the left is actually a wetter, cooler habitat than the southerly lower slopes. This view is at about 2,500 meters on the south side of the mountains.
Rainclouds piling up on the lower slopes
of the Sierra Madre del Sur
|This view from the crest looking northeast shows why the range creates a rain shadow. The clouds only reach to about 2,500 meters, seen here from about 2,700 meters. There is abundant rain on the Gulf of Mexico side, as shown by the rich, tropical forest on the lower slopes.
DUCKS, SWANS, GEESE
HERONS, EGRETS AND BITTERNS
HAWKS, EAGLES AND KITES
FALCONS AND CARACARAS
GUANS, CHACHALACAS AND CURASSOWS
West Mexican Chachalaca
RAILS AND COOTS
PIGEONS AND DOVES
TROGONS AND QUETZALS
CROWS AND JAYS
VIREOS AND ALLIES
|WAXWINGS AND SILKY-FLYCATCHERS
MOCKINGBIRDS AND THRASHERS
OLD WORLD FLYCATCHERS
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
OLD WORLD SPARROWS
WAGTAILS AND PIPITS
SISKINS, CROSSBILLS AND ALLIES
NEW WORLD WARBLERS
Black-throated Gray Warbler
BUNTINGS, SPARROWS, TANAGERS, ALLIES
BLACKBIRDS, GRACKLES, ORIOLES