Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Backpacking Mexico and Belize: a slightly different tropical adventure. Pt 3

Vigia Chico Road

We awoke to the raucous screeching of Olive-throated Parakeets overhead.
A Tropical Pewee called from somewhere nearby, Social Flycatchers squealed in the distance, Yucatan Jays called back and forth to each other and Orange Orioles whistled away. An Altimira Oriole soon joined them.  We leaped out of our tents, grabbed the bare necessities for the day and took off through the early morning light.

We barely made it fifteen feet before the Tropical Pewee stopped us in our tracks. Our attention was then distracted by a White-collared Seedeater which led to the discovery of a Yucatan Jay.  As we picked our way back to the road, we quickly discovered more birds, foraging at the woodland edge. We eventually found five species of Orioles; including good looks at the endemic Orange Oriole.
Tropical Gnatcatchers and Spot-breasted Wrens were common as well as the ubiquitous Black Catbird.

Black-throated Green Warbler
There were also a number of North American wood-warblers. Magnolia was the most common, quickly followed by Black-throated Green Warbler.  It was slightly odd, seeing our familiar northern warblers in a tropical climate.

As we walked along the road, a Keel-billed Toucan flew overhead, followed by a couple more.
Canivet's Emeralds whizzed by now and then and Ferruginous Pygmy-owls called almost at every half-mile.

Rose-throated Tanager
Rose-throated Tanager was one endemic that we had hoped to find. It didn't take long.
While picking through Red-throated Ant-Tanagers, a male Rose-throated Tanager popped up. We later saw a female as well.  Red-crowned Ant-Tanager was another good bird that we picked up along the stretch of road, along with more Mangrove Vireos:

Mangrove Vireo

Vigia Chico road was also our first encounter with a hummingbird that I had seen only once previously in southern Texas; Buff-bellied Hummingbird:

Buff-bellied Hummingbird

It was also where I got to see a lifer that I should've seen in Arizona. I thought it interesting how I picked up Rose-throated Becard in Mexico first:

Rose-throated Becard
We walked the few miles down to the lake where we stopped for lunch:

The birding had quieted down by then, but there were plenty of Dragonflies around, like this Brown Setwing:

Brown Setwing

After birding all day, returning back to camp (yes, all our stuff was still there) and crashing for the night, we awoke the next morning and spent some time birding around camp.  That was when we found the highlight of our two days there.  We were walking along a small, narrow trail, when we heard a noise off to one side of the trail and low, rather similar to a frog or insect. While looking for it, we happened upon a bird we though we were going to miss: Yucatan Poorwill!

Yucatan Poorwill

While birding Vigia Chico Road, I also got to see two species of Butterflies that I've been wanting to see for a very long time.  The first being the awesome Zebra Longwing, for sure one of the prettier butterflies of the tropics: 

Zebra Longwing

The other was the spectacularly beautiful Malachite Butterfly!!

Malachite Butterfly

My next post will cover our time in Belize and Tikal.
Til then, Happy Birding!

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