Sunday 29 January 2017

Birding Chula Vista

Jan 15  2016 Chula Vista Nayarit Mexico.

Chula Vista is comprised of tropical decidious forest, wetlands and savanna, a few seasonal ponds, some older growth trees and a number of freshwater creeks. The remaining land is cultivated with corn and pineapple plantations. Coconut and palm trees and thick secondary growth offer food and shelter for birds like the cuckoo squirrel, citreoline trogon, rose-throated becard and ivory-billed woodpecker. 

Chula Vista was my first walk into the Mexican countryside. Most of my birding has so far has been on beaches, around tourist resorts and in and around small villages and towns. The amount of bird life there was simply stunning so a walk in the country side was going to be an exiting experience with an opportunity to encounter some new species. At our first designated stop we had a dozen species. I won't soon forget my first vermillion flycatcher. It was hawking insects, just far enough away to thwart my efforts of a decent photo. Thankfully I was to get more chances later on.
What's a blog full of birds if you can't see where they live. The fields and trees held a wide variety of species.
Kevin and Myrna from Edson Alberta and Ed from Quadra Island showed me around.
Moving on we flushed a number of Wilson's snipe. In the trees Sinaloa wrens, Nashville and orange-crowned warblers picked off insects and in one tree an Eastern meadowlark, normally seen in open fields watched our movements.

Eastern Meadowlark.

Blue-black grassquit. 
In the brush along the dirt road flocks of blue-black grassquit, ruddy-ground doves were busily making the best of the early morning dew.
Eventually the seasonal ponds and creek dry up forcing birds into smaller and smaller areas.
We walked along the side of one field which this time last year was several feet deep in water. It has been a very dry winter in Mexico, good for tourists but not so good for farmers.

Despite that, the small body of water that remained did offer up a number of greater yellowlegs, least, stilt and spotted sandpipers. Several hundred black-bellied whistling ducks preened while around them fifty of so long-billed dowitchers slept with one eye open, prepared to take off if a predator appeared unexpectantly. It's strange seeing blue-winged teal, cattle egrets, roseate spoonbills and American wigeon co-existing. A white-faced ibis came in to join the other birds at the very same time a peregrine falcon passed over the pond.

Roseate spoonbill and black-bellied whistling ducks.

Leaving the pond behind we ventured back into farmland where a Harris's hawks landed in a large tree surveying the fields for prey. I was lucky enough to capture this one in flight (see below) albeit against the sun.
Harris's Hawk.
Streak-backed oriole.

One family of birds I hadn't seen in Mexico were falcons. Just as we were heading toward the end of our walk Ed spotted a laughing falcon perched high up on a tree. At first it was obscured, then suddenly it took off in our direction. I came close enough for me to get a few flight shots.
Laughing Falcon swooping overhead.
A little later we came across another and this time I was a little better situated to get the short below.
All the images are taken with a Nikon D500 and Nikon 200mm-500mm handheld.
We saw numerous raptors hunting over the farmland.
As our walk came to a close we spotted a number of new species for the day including American kestrel, zone-tailed hawk, northern jacana, limpkin and least grebe.

White-striped sparrow.
Finally but not least I finally tracked down a vermillion flycatcher. They never stay still and always manage to fence hop out of reach. This one I found while my fellow birders had gone ahead.
Our day was complete.
Thanks to Ed, Kevin, Myrna and the birds.
Vermillion flycatcher.
 Chula Vista List 1

Chula Vista  List 2

"It's never too late to start birding in Mexico"

John Gordon
BC Canada

1 comment:

  1. what amazing photos John! thank you for taking the time on the slow internet to blog !