Rugged terrain, awe-inspiring beauty. This is Nayarit and Colima, Mexico. A place for adventure.
I started this journey with hopes and a list of birds I wanted to photograph for the first time. I set a goal to find 20 new birds. My guide, Mark Stackhouse put me on 19 photographed and the last one, an Aztec Rail, heard but couldn’t be coaxed out of the cattails before the mosquitos attacked and we were forced to retreat. I think the photograph I’m most pleased with is this one, a Cinnamon bellied Flowerpiercer. For the better part of two days, this quick little bird insisted on staying deep inside the brush only to peak out from frustrating time to time only to duck down just as I started to focus. I finally took one shot I could live with.
The cinnamon-bellied flowerpiercer (Diglossa baritula) is a species of bird in the family Thraupidae. It is found in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist montane forests and heavily degraded former forest. It is a species known to be a nectar robber, apparently taking nectar while not pollinating the plant.
Photographing birds in the shadows of volcanos and deep jungle-like situations present issues of lighting that can be challenging to say the least. I took some okay phots of two hummers new to me. The Mexican Violetear
and the Violet-crowned Hummingbird.
Did a little night birding on a volcano road. These roads were tight and when we met a vehicle coming from the other direction passing felt like nearly kissing bumpers and slapping side mirrors. Here is a ghostly photo I took of a Balsas Screech-Owl. Almost spooky!
Balsas Screech-Owl is the only species of owl that is endemic to Mexico. The plumage pattern of this screech-owl is typical of the genus, although Balsas Screech-Owl is not known to have a red morph, but this species is unusual among screech-owls for having brown (not yellow) irides. This species is resident in southwestern Mexico, with a distribution that is centered on the Balsas River Basin in southern Jalisco, Colima, Michoacán, central Guerrero, and southern Morelos. Information on the biology of Balsas Screech-Owl is extremely limited, even though this species is considered to be at risk from habitat loss or degradation.
In the dark of night, windows open to listen for birds and Mark stops the van, “get out”. I grab my camera, step on the road and right away a bird almost lands on my cap and then lands on a nearby bush. Mark shines his flashlight and we both can see an Eared Poorwill. The bird takes off before I can focus but Mark whistles and back it comes again, almost landing on my head. It lands…
The eared poorwill (Nyctiphrynus mcleodii) is a species of nightjar in the family Caprimulgidae. It is endemic to Mexico. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests.
Birds in the family Caprimulgidae, which includes Eastern Whip-poor-will , have been referred to as “goatsuckers” based on a superstition that goes back well over 2000 years. They all have tiny beaks that open to reveal an impressively large mouth used to catch flying insects, and they are active mainly at night. Their nocturnal habits made them mysterious, and their bizarre appearance required an explanation, and as early as the 300s BC Aristotle wrote about the trouble these birds could cause with goats. Four hundred years later not much had changed, and in 77 AD Pliny passed along the prevailing wisdom:
The Caprimulgi (so called of milking goats) are like the bigger kind of Owsels [Thrush]. They bee night-theeves; for all the day long they see not. Their manner is to come into the sheepeheards coats and goat-pens, and to the goats udders presently they goe, and suck the milke at their teats. And looke what udder is so milked, it giveth no more milke, but misliketh and falleth away afterwards, and the goats become blind withall.
Leaving the mountain and down at the base we come across another type of goatsucker, the Buff-collard Nightjar. Beautiful bird!
The buff-collared nightjar (Antrostomus ridgwayi) is a small sized nightjar. Adults are dark with brown, grey, black, and white patterning on the upperparts and breast. The tail is dark brown, with darker finely barred markings throughout. The male has large white outer tail tips on the 3 outermost tail feathers. The female has buffy tail tips. The most distinguishing characteristic to determine its identity from its closest relative the Whip-poor-will is from where the bird gets its name. It shows a prominent buff-colored collar around its neck and nape. Its song is also very different. It sounds like an accelerating cuk, cuk, cuk, cuk, cuk, cukacheea.
Their breeding habitat is open country of Mexico and Central America to central Nicaragua. The northern limit of its range reaches just over the Mexican border to southeasternmost Arizona and southwesternmost New Mexico–(the Madrean Sky Islands in the eastern Sonoran Desert mountain region), where they are the only breeding resident birds. The nightjar’s two eggs are laid directly on bare ground near rocks or scrubby vegetation—there is no nest. The adult may feign injury to distract an intruder from the eggs or young birds.
They catch flying insects on the wing, making forays to catch their prey from the ground or a perch from a bush, tree, or large rock. They are mainly active at night, but can also be awake at dawn or dusk. They usually rest on the ground during the day.
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