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SOUTHERN MEXICO

Sunday 30th March - Thursday 17th April 2014

Mark Van Beirs

Bearded Screech Owl (Rainer Kopa)

Bearded Screech Owl (Rainer Kopa)

The wide range of varied habitats that we visited on our ninth Southern Mexico tour made sure that we saw most of the endemics, specialities and regional goodies of the vast area covered between the Distrito Federal of Mexico City and the lovely town of San Cristobal in the southern state of Chiapas. The Bird of the Trip was the striking and uniquely coloured Pink-headed Warbler that showed so well in the pine oak woodland it favours. Other species that were to everyone’s taste included Bumblebee Hummingbird (displaying males), Bearded Screech Owl (eye-ball to eye-ball views), Lesser Ground Cuckoo (marvellous close up), Blue-crowned Chlorophonia (scope studies), Orange-breasted Bunting (repeated fantastic observations of this jewel) and Rose-bellied Bunting (exquisite sightings). Other interesting species that showed well included White-bellied Chachalaca, Highland Guan, Long-tailed Wood Partridge, Northern Bobwhite, Spotted Wood Quail, Singing Quail, Pink-footed Shearwater, Black Storm Petrel, Nazca Booby, Virginia Rail, Double-striped Thick-knee, Pomarine Skua, Pheasant Cuckoo, Lesser Roadrunner, Pacific Screech Owl, Buff-collared Nightjar, Long-tailed Sabrewing, Oaxaca and Dusky Hummingbirds, Beautiful Sheartail, Citreoline Trogon, Russet-crowned Motmot, Grey-breasted and Strickland’s Woodpeckers, Green Parakeet, Rufous-breasted Spinetail, Mayan Antthrush, Belted, Pileated, Pine and Buff-breasted Flycatchers, Golden Vireo, Black-throated and Unicolored Jays, Grey Silky-flycatcher, Giant, Boucard’s, Sumichrast’s and Nava’s Wrens, Ocellated Thrasher, Blue and Blue-and-white Mockingbirds, Brown-backed and Slate-colored Solitaires, Russet Nightingale Thrush, the special Olive Warbler, Crescent-chested, Golden-browed and Red Warblers, Black-polled and Hooded Yellowthroats, Spot-breasted and Bar-winged Orioles and Sierra Madre, Bridled, Striped and Cinnamon-tailed Sparrows. Mammals were not obvious at all, but Mexican Red Brocket was a new mammal for this tour. The rains failed last year in most of the area visited which could account for the lack of hummingbirds recorded and the boat trip was rather quieter than it usually is. We encountered a few roadblocks caused by striking taxi drivers or farmers, which costed us an hour or two of birding time. Food, accommodation and road conditions were all excellent and the margaritas were well appreciated.

The rare Sierra Madre Sparrow (Mark Van Beirs)

The rare Sierra Madre Sparrow (Mark Van Beirs)