The Road to San Blas

Streak-backed Oriole

We had beautiful weather for the entire trip, which made the drive from Puerto Vallarta to San Blas, Mexico, along the Pacific coast in the state of Nayarit, that much better. It’s a long drive, and we made several stops along the way to look for birds. Some were familiar, like Yellow Warbler, Nashville Warbler, and Summer Tanager which visit my habitat during spring and summer.

Nashville Warbler
Summer Tanager (in a too-shady spot!)

We had San Blas Jays and Golden-Fronted Woodpeckers in abundance. The Golden-Fronted are common in Texas, but the San Blas Jays are endemic to Mexico.

We encountered some doves and Painted Buntings foraging along a dirt road…

Inca Doves, Ruddy Ground-Dove, Common Ground-Doves
White-Winged Dove – in a non-characteristic view

I don’t know where I saw this heron, but the camera doesn’t lie, so we must have encountered it on that day. I don’t see Yellow-Crowned Night-Herons very often, especially juveniles.

Juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron

At some point it was temporarily cloudy along the way. So you may wonder why I am including these very dark pictures. The Cinnamon-Rumped Seedeater is of some significance in that it has been split from the White-Collared Seedeater, which makes it an endemic species. And such a close encounter with some Black Vultures seemed friendly enough.

One of many Grayish Saltators on the trip.

Grayish Saltator

We would see Sinaloa Wrens again. Which didn’t stop us from searching for a species called “Happy Wren” which we heard quite often, but hardly saw it once.

This could have been our only Gila Woodpecker. I had thought it was already on my life list but it turns out I haven’t seen it before, except in a field guide, so I am glad I have proof.

Gila Woodpecker

We would see Rufous-bellied Chachalacas again, but for a large bird they are amazing difficult to capture.

Our first Citreoline Trogon. I was surprised to find I actually got a fairly decent picture.

Citreoline Trogon

Later in the day, we were on the beach, and this lone Willet gave us good, if distant, views as it expertly navigated the shore.

Great-tailed Grackle Tree
a perched Magnificent Frigatebird

An assortment of beach bums were gathered – Brown Pelicans, Black Vultures, Magnificent Frigatebirds, various Herons – I think a man had left them some food.

Not to be forgotten, a proud Turkey Vulture

We were assured all cormorants would be Neo-tropical…and most of the terns were Royal.

Before we checked into our hotel, we stopped at a historical site, El fuerte de la Contaduria, when we arrived in San Blas. It’s situated on a cliff overlooking the ocean. I wish I had paid more attention to the historic significance which our guide, Steve, was trying to impart to us, but I was pretty tired from traveling by then. I believe the statue is of Don Jose Maria Mercado.

One thing I do remember is Steve reading the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem, The Bells of San Blas.

A version of what happened at the fort is nicely summarized here.

I hope to make some progress over the weekend. I am fading into the sunset to process more pictures.

Hiding in Plain Sight

Common Potoo 02-23-2016-3934

The bird above is a sleeping Common Potoo, a nocturnal species. Now see if you can find the bird in the photo below.

Find the Potoo 02-23-2016-3922

How our guide ever saw the bird in the first place is beyond comprehension. But the same day, one of our net-tending participants found the practically invisible hummingbird nest below. The only way I could find the spot with my camera was to look for the orange leaf.

Hummer on Nest 02-23-2016-4173

The birds at the lodge feeders were much easier to spot. An Inca Dove and a Rufous-Naped Wren.

And birds in the hand, as always, were the easiest to see. Except you hardly ever see the whole hummingbird. Below, a Stripe-Throated Hermit and a Blue-Throated Goldentail.

Below, a Yellow-Bellied Flycatcher on the left and a female Painted Bunting on the right.

The bird below found its way into my net. It is a Yellow-Billed Cacique.

The Ivory-Billed Woodcreeper below was on a tree near my net. Much more common than an Ivory-Billed Woodpecker!

Below, a Tropical Kingbird and another Black-Headed Trogon.

There is nothing new about a Turkey Vulture but it’s nice when you can see the field marks.

Turkey Vulture 02-23-2016-4217More photographs to come from my trip to Nicaragua. Below, one of many stunning overlooks.

Landscape 02-23-2016-4224

 

Pedernales Falls

White-Winged Dove

White-Winged Dove

I’m taking a breather from warbler migration (and so, it seems, are the warblers, for the moment, at least) to start visiting pictures taken last week in Texas,

Western Scrub-Jay

Western Scrub Jay

Our first full day of birding in Texas began at Pedernales Falls State Park. At that point all the birds were all new, even if we had seen them before. Pedernales has two blinds from which you can get excellent views of the birds that visit their feeders. It was the perfect introduction to species we were to see again and again nearly every day of the trip, no matter where we went.

Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

The day was overcast and taking pictures through the slanted glass of the blind made some of these pictures fuzzy. When we entered the largest blind there were two photographers ensconced in the side bays which are completely open to the outside with no windows in the way. Neither one of these gentlemen, and I use the term loosely, offered to share his spot for a moment. I did not bother to ask, figuring my large lens spoke volumes already. But it became frustrating when a male Painted Bunting appeared and all those click-click-clicks were not mine.

Black-Crested Titmouse

Black-Crested Titmouse

Black-Crested Titmouse Pedernales 4-26-14 7396.jpg-7396

As birds would have it, I walked over to the other blind, which had a less accessible, smaller hole, but it was open, and shortly thereafter a male Painted Bunting came to the suet feeder and put on a show for me. These are two of more shots than I can count. Although I would later get photos of this species in better light, I will always treasure these for their intimacy.

Painted Bunting

Painted Bunting

Feel free to click on any photo to see an enlargement.

Painted Bunting 4-26-14 7696.jpg-7696

One quick aside: I was pleased and surprised to see the Clay-Colored Sparrow from the last post on top of the feeder pole this evening when I got home. It’s nice to know he’s still enjoying his visit.