Friday 20 January 2017

Birding Cerros de Guayabitos

Jan 14 2017 Cerros de Guayabitos Jalisco Mexico
Behind and above Guayabitos and Los Ayala is an unpaved road to a small enclave of villas. On ebird it's named Cerros de Guaybitos. The road climbs uphill through dense forest until reaching a vantage point high above the town. It's part of a network of birdy trails close enough to town to reach by walking.
A six a.m. start will see you to the top just in time for the birds most active time.

The first chance of a photograph was this citreoline trogan I spotted high up in the trees, a lifer and a great way to start the day.

Citreoline trogon (Pacific slope yellow-eyed form)

There is a window of a few hours when certain trees, those ripe with flowers, fruits and nuts attract birds like magnets. Some trees can contain as many as ten species of birds. Perfect for the birders but more of a challenge trying photograph especially with branches and leaves obscuring their activities. The best ploy is to watch and wait and hopefully opportunities to get clear shots materialize.

Cinnamon hummingbird.

Red-breasted chat.

One of the issues that photographers face in hot and sunny conditions is the shade, dappled and contrasty light or when birds just won't co-operate. This when I go into what I call ID mode which basically is, get a shot regardless of its aesthetic qualities so as to identify later back at the hotel. This shot above is a prime example of a shot taken into the sun with light streaming into the camera. I felt the bird wouldn't hang around and I was right I only had time for one frame.

A commotion in the trees above me revealed a flock of west Mexican chachalaca. Shaded by a thick canopy of trees the birds were hard to photograph. Low shutter speed and high ISO were needed. Below shot at ISO 2000 1/50 sec at F 6.7. Why not F5.6 and a higher shutter speed, simply I was so exited by having found a new species and adding another tick to my list that I forge to check the camera settings.
Rufous-bellied chachalaca.
Photographs are illusions. At no time did the flock stop hopping from one obscured view to another but somehow I managed to get a clear shot while frantically trying to get a decent background and exposure. 

Many birds like this western tanager are familiar to Canadians birders.
Western Tanager
Western Tanagers, Mac Gillivrays and Nashville warbler were present in large numbers.

 To list or not to list that is the question?
I admit I have become a lister. I was warned about a few years ago but just brushed it off as something that would never happen to me. Even my wife is resigned to it now. One evening I even caught her watching 'The Big Year' presumably so she could get a better understanding what she was getting herself into. Even my very own kids think I'm nuts. My son, aware of my growing obsession even bought me a return ticket to Churchill Manitoba for my 60th birthday, how cool is that! Christmas presents are usually Chapter's gift cards so I can buy outrageously expensive bird books. My wife took away my sagging bookshelf before it collapsed under the weight and replaced it with a sturdier version, which has since been filled with new birding tomes. Strange how it has snuck up on me, listing that is. As a kid I collected stamps which is a very similar, orderly type of pastime. 
Listing is also a very British and North American obsession. I read recently that birders list because as Brits our forefathers colonized new lands and had to list everything new and strange. Lewis and Clark did the same as they forged their way across the continent, listing new species of all types. Recently I have just given into the pull of seeing new birds especially in exotic locales such as there one I find myself in presently. Thanks to ebird and Cornell University  I can now follow my birding journey wherever it takes me and what may you ask could be better than that, Nirvana maybe!

Blue-Gray gnatcatcher.

"It's never too late to start listing"
John Gordon
BC Canada

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful shots I love the cinnamon hummer. You are correct about the chat. Yep Listing is one expensive but addictive part of birding lol