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March 2016 – Chris Llewellyn's "Birds Eye Views"
 

Month: March 2016

These Baja birders visit Chiapas, Mx.

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My darling Debbie and I birded Chiapas (the southern-most state in Mexico) for about 10 days in February.  We flew from San Jose, Baja Sur to Mexico City, overnighted and continued on to Pelenque, Chiapas the next day.  We were met there by Brock Huffman and company  (Chiapas Birding Adventures) for a birding adventure we will never forget.  Our highly qualified birding guides always went out of their way to ensure our comfort and safety.  And by-the-way, there was never a question or feeling that we were in any way un-safe.  The people of Chiapas are friendly, shy and curious.  Most of the time, the weather was very cloudy so many photos we took are not as crisp as usual.   In what little time we had, we birded many different habitats from sea-level to 7,000 feet or so.  The artificial goal I set of photographing  50 new birds was achieved and actually surpassed by 2.  Yep, 52 birds new to our cameras.  Today, I’ll show you a few shots we took of Trogons and Kingfishers.

Mountain Trogan
Mountain Trogon

If you have ever tried to photograph Trogons in their natural habitat (not in a zoo), you will probably appreciate these shots even more.  Trogons can be extremely shy and DO NOT like to pose for photos.  Seems like almost every time I think I’m close enough to take a pic of one, its still too far away in the shadows of the trees they like to hide in.

Violaceous Trogon
Violaceous Trogon

In general, Trogons like to land on a branch and slowly scan the area for insects.  One would think they are not paying any attention so sneak up just a little more to take that shot, right?  No, one step too many and flush!!!!!!!they are gone.

Black-headed Trogon
Black-headed Trogon

This Black-headed Trogon was the only one we/I saw the entire trip.  Debbie sat-out the boat ride I was on to capture kingfishers where I spotted this bird about 500 yards away.  That distance and a rocking boat lead to a somewhat fuzzy photograph.  If I only had more time.

Amazon Kingfisher
Amazon Kingfisher

If you follow our blogs you might remember a photo of an Amazon Kingfisher I shot in Oxaoca.  That shot was taken from 1/4 mile away and not very good but it was the only one we ever saw so this one at fifty feet is certainly an up-grade, even though the day was very cloudy.  Check out the size of it’s bill compared to the head.

Ringed Kingfisher
Ringed Kingfisher

Our boat captain really knew the birds on the river.  He knew exactly where to find this Ringed Kingfisher, a bird I told him I really wanted to photograph.  What a beauty!

Pygmy Kingfisher
Pygmy Kingfisher

I had no idea I would be seeing so many different kingfishers types on this tiny river.  Jokingly, I mentioned to the captain while we were launching the boat that “there may be a little something extra for you” if we find a Pygmy Kingfisher.  I didn’t think he understood a word I said because he just smiled.   While we were moving along, suddenly the boat stops near a brush pile.  The captain starts pshishing, pssh, pssh…And suddenly, out of a thicket flys a Pygmy Kingfisher!  Before I can shoot, it flys back in.  I’m whispering no.no.no…he’s gone.  The captain winks at me and psshes some more.  This time I’m ready and take the shot and before he’s gone again.  “Let’s go”, I say, I don’t like stressing birds.  500 pesos for the very happy captain.  I think it made him proud of his expertise.

I’ll leave today with photos of a Sungrebe, (how lucky am I?)

Sungrebe
Sungrebe

and a Mangrove Swallow, both taken on the river.

Mangrove Swallow
Mangrove Swallow

Happy Birding from Chris and Debbie.  Don’t forget to like us, if you do.

Baja birders visit Rancho Encinalito.

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After hearing about our experience with a grumpy (to say the least) rancher up San Antonio Road a few weeks ago, our new friends Scott and Kathleen, invited us up to their paradise, Rancho Encinalito, which is also near San Antonio Rd.  Scott and Kathleen live off-the-grid in a home they built with great attention to detail.   An extreme get-a-way with a pond, garden, orchard and lots of land.  They let us know that the person that was rude to us was NOT the norm for that area.  Enough said, now about the birds—

Have you ever seen one of these Hummingbirds before?  Of course you have.  This is a Costa’s Hummingbird.  How many are you seeing around your feeders this year?  Only a few, at best probably.  We saw a few on our way up to the ranch, none at their feeders, just like at our casa.  Well, we have one or two.  We used to have ten or twenty.  I hope their low numbers is just because there is lots of feed for them out in the countryside due to a few late rains.

Costa's Hummingbird
Costa’s Hummingbird

We saw a Zone-tailed Hawk perched like a guard watching over the entry gate.

Zone-tailed hawk
Zone-tailed hawk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And out on the flats, the low land near the entry to San Antonio, a cardon cactus supports a handsome Harris’s Hawk.  Not many of these boys around this year either.

Harris's Hawk
Harris’s Hawk

On our walk into the ranch, the brush was full of birds like this Black-headed Grosbeak.

Black-headed Grosbeak
Black-headed Grosbeak

And lots of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Pacific-Slope Flycatchers were a common sight.

Pacific-slpoe Flycatcher
Pacific-slpoe Flycatcher

We even saw a Gilded Flicker.

Gilded Flicker
Gilded Flicker

Again, my darling Debbie and I would like to thank Scott and Kathleen for their honest-hospitality and we wish them good fortunes.  Happy Birding from Chris and Debbie!