Saturday, December 20, 2008

1000 up!!!

OK, it may not be very spectacular compared to the efforts of The Biggest Twitch, but i'm proud of it (and I bet i'm owning them on birds per pound spent). Today, whilst birding in Oaxaca I saw my 1000th bird species THIS YEAR (EDIT:like a dumbass, when I originally wrote this post I forgot to mention that it was 1000 species this year. I have absolutely no idea what I have seen in total!!!), a White-throated Towhee, a Central Mexican Endemic.

We arrived in Oaxaca city early yesterday morning after another tortously long bus journey. We were picked up there by the living legend that is Eric Antonio Martinez, who we met volunteering at Long Point. Eric took us to his village, the birding hotspot of Teotitlan Del Valle, where we'll be staying for a few days. We went back into the City yesterday evening and had a goo look around the zocalo at all the cool old buildings. Whilst taking a gander at the impressive baroque church (one of only 4 in Mexico), we spotted several Lesser Nighthawks hawking for moths in the spotlights, a great atmospheric way to kick off our birding in arguably the most diverse state in Mexico.

At dawn this morning, we headed down to the scrub and rough farmland a few km's Southeastof the village to try and pick up some of the endemics. First bird up, before it was even light was a Rufous-capped Warbler, which was swiftly followed by the White-throated Towhee, bird no.1000. After a quick punch of the air, we moved on, and soon Eric picked up the call of Boucards Wren, another endemic. Soon enough, a pair of these hoooge wrens were giving excellent views amongst the cacti. Other good birds in the area included Curve-billed Thrasher (finally!!), Hooded Yellowthroat, Virginias Warbler and Black-vented Oriole.

After grabbing some breakfast in the village, we started climbing up into the hills North of the village. We stopped at a small reservoir to look through a big feeding flock of Violet-green and Northern Rough-winged Swallows, and found a female Dusky Hummingbird sat on a nest close to the track.

Next stop was a long way up into the wooded hills, where after good looks at Crescent-chested and Red Warblers (as stunning as they were before), a Red-faced Warbler showed up and gave excellent views. A bit of piching produced somemore monster wrens, this time it was a flock of Grey-barred Wrens, looking very bizarreclambering overthe bromeliads looking for insects. Climbing a little further, a paritculalrly good spot held Amethyst and Blue-throated Hummingbirds and Green Violet-ear. Chestnut-sided Shrike-vireo and Collared Towhee were a good score, along with a skulking Grey-breasted Wood-wren along the very birdy gulley. A confusing looking empidonax (are there ay that aren't) was finally nailed as a Grey Flycatcher, and we returned to the car to climb further. After a quick stop for a look at several White-throated Swifts buzzing high over the forest, we reached one of Erics 'special sites', near to the village of Benito Juarez. The hoped for Aztec Thrushes didnt show, but Chestnut-capped and Rufous -capped Brushfinch (which actaully look very different from each other) were welcome compensation, aswas more good looks at a Red Warbler.

Overall, a very enjoyable day, with some really good local endemics and other cool birds. Big thanks to Eric are in order for all his local knowledge and keen ears, as well as ferrying us about.


Nigel and Joann Burch said...

Congratulations Joe. So are you on target for 5000 bird species by your 25th birthday

Anonymous said...

Congrats on your 1000th species Joe! I should get to that milestone myself later this year...fingers crossed!

Good luck and safe travels for the rest of your trip.

Merry Christmas!

oaxaca said...

I read your blog - I live here in Oaxaca - Serve Thai food at my house on Sundays
Wanted you to know about a guide here that is considered an incredible birding guide.
He does Oaxaca and Chiapas states.
Roque Antonio
Teri Gunderson

Anonymous said...

Eric is Roque's nephew they're both excellent guides.