Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Company of the non-bird type at La Estacion
Cold beverages at Arroyo Frio
Marvin and I
An adult Groove-billed ani
Russet-crowned motmot -
Monday, September 21, 2009
Les S. from Churinztio, a lovely little town a half day's drive from here, visited us for 3.5 days. Hugo and I met his bus in Zacapu early Monday Aug 24 and delivered him back in time for a midday bus headed home on Aug 27. Hotel Jardin in Erongaricuaro was his resting place when we weren't birding. Believe me when I say he hardly wrinkled the sheets - we saw 144 species!
Saturday, August 15, 2009
After making our way down the stair-filled path to the main waterfalls to where American dippers were again easily espied, we hiked beyond the falls to the opposite side of the valley. Just short of a smaller waterfall known as Tzararacuita, several Grace's warblers entertained us.
And me again...with both the big Sibley's and Howell & Webb in my back pocket.
As I mentioned, we ventured into el centro de Uruapan for lunch. OH MY GAWD, OUR MEAL WAS HEAVENLY. In fact, the best meal I've had in Mexico.
We both had Chile Costeno (not the English n), which was stuffed with shrimp, squash flower, onion and other goodies served on a tomato-flavored rice pilaf and surrounded by a puree of frijoles decorated with a zigzag of crema. Savored with a slightly chilled chardonnay, we thought we'd died and went to heaven. Then there was dessert, which we shared: flamed bananas with brandy and kahlua with a large dollup of vanilla ice cream. Our waiters (Carlos and Sergio) couldn't have been more professional. Price tag for the main course was $85 pesos and dessert was $40 pesos. According to Carlos who speaks English, the chef is exceptional. When pressed, Carlos couldn't recommend one dish more than another.
Neither of us can wait to return. Mind you, Uruapan isn't much to look at, and I probably wouldn't return unless to the cascadas (waterfalls) or the national park, but I will make a trip solely to eat at this restaurant.
The restaurant is located on the second floor of Hotel Plaza Uruapan, Ocampo no. 64, Central Uruapan. http://www.hotelplazauruapan.com.mx/.
So, any of you who think birding is dull, rest assured there is another side. We visit interesting places, see gorgeous birds, and eat sumptious meals as often as we can.
Bird seen (not in taxonomic order):
American dipper (Spanish name: mirlo-aquatico americano)
White-naped swift (Spanish name: vencejo nuquiblanco)
Photo by Bruce Cox, Patzcuaro
Saturday, August 1, 2009
The following is a summary entitled "Audubon Goes to Patzcuaro" by Carol Wheeler
In case you haven't heard, all Audubon trips are wonderful. The most recent one, to Patzcuaro and environs in July, was no exception. Participants included: Twenty lucky bird lovers, two skilled, devoted, bird guides, one all-knowing guide to the Purhepechan ruins, and startlingly, dozens and dozens of birds who came along for the ride as it were, including: the elegant euphonia, the gray silk flycatcher and even the turkey vulture, for example.
Amenities were rife. Not only was the hotel splendid--Casa Encantada may be the best bed-and-breakfast in Patzcuaro--certainly it has sumptuous breakfasts, spacious rooms and charming folk decor everywhere. But so was the transportation--commodious six-passenger vans that took us not only to Patzcuaro and back, but everywhere we went once we got there, and the food, which ranged from a gourmet dinner at Patzcuaro's best restaurant to perfect bag lunches for our visit to the ruins in Tzintzuntzan. This was birding for anyone eager to spot feathered creatures in the utmost comfort.
Our bird guide, former Alaskan Georgia Conti, was not only an experienced naturalist--she was also impressively high-tech, equipped with an i-touch that sang the calls of Michoacan's birds on request, to entice the birds to fly closer. Her co-bird leader Hugo (otherwise known as Victor Hugo Valencia Alberto), who grew up in the area, used his scope to make sure we all saw what he saw. Both Georgia and Hugo cared a lot about that. Hugo had learned birding right there in Erongaricuaro (a little village) from his father, a railroadman. The tracks his father had been in charge of were one of our birding sites, so he knew them well. In use no longer, those tracks were perfect for birding--no mud and a smooth, flat path all around us, all bordered by woods, hills, and the shells of houses the railroad workers lived in. But even that paled beside the next day's site: a waterside platform where the birds came to us, no walking required on our part. (They were also visiting tall trees, horse pastures, fence posts, and a lake.)
We Audubon travelers were in luck. In the course of our trip, Georgia and Hugo showed us most of the distinctive birds of Michoacan, including our guide Georgia's choice for most characteristic song, the brown-backed solitaire, along with the berylline hummingbird, the painted redstart, the black-polled yellowthroat, the hybrid towhee, the elegant trogon and many, many others.
Our ruins guide, another transplanted American called Didi Rose, was incredibly knowledgeable about the Purhepechan culture (the ruins we visited are known as Yacata, meaning pile of rocks, but were once the seat of the monarchs of Purhepecha, above the village of Tzintzuntzan, which was at one time the capital city of Michoacan). The ruins themselves are being sorted out by the Mexican government, walls rebulit, grassy areas cleaned up. She also led us through a beautiful ex-convento fringed by a placid, serene garden, also being restored by the government. Just outside was the famous Tzintzuntzan market--no egrets, no ravens, not even a cinnamon-bellied flowerpiercer (we'd seen those already), but yet quite a popular site for our group, this time searching for comals, straw cradles and flowered blouses.
Yes, we didn't only look for and at birds. We shopped and we partied; we visited museums and markets, and we got caught in the rain (but only in the briefest, pleasantest way, because if our cars weren't waiting, our hotel was just down the street). Often we combined several activities, as when we visited the home of Georgia and her husband, a modern aerie in the sky high above rolling farmland, with a privileged view of the world, plus several hummingbird feeders hanging from the patio roof, filled with the constant comings and goings of dozens of hummingbirds, close enough (almost) to touch (though if you tried, you might well fall off into that farmland, way way down below). Or when we spotted birds on our way to the art potter Nicholas Fabian's studio in his home in Santa Fe de la Laguna, a tiny, rustic Michoacan town. Fabian's work impressed us all; many of us bought pieces--one or a few--and then saw them later in town for three times the price. Always a nice surprise.
Not a surprise, totally expected but very nice nevertheless was the beautiful way Linda Whynman, Audubon's president, and her husband Saul ran the trip. They even thought to bring extra binoculars for those of us less well-equipped than we should be. And of course they provided the perfect place to talk over our daily sighting--the daily cocktail party.
Audubon is hoping to take off on another trip to Patzcuaro in the fall. And another, first-time, trip is scheduled for Mexico City's botanical gardens in October. If you become an Audubon member (go to our web site, audubonmex.org) you'll be one of the first to hear about our plans.
Birds seen (not in taxonomic order):
Hybrid towhee (Collared towhee x Spotted towhee)
Red-tail hawk (both dark and light morph)
Little blue heron
Elegant euphonia (male and female)
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
- a list the birds of Michoacan
- lists of species that are threatened (16 species), in danger of extinction (11 species), are under protection (49 species), and are extinct (only 1 species, the Imperial woodpecker)
- lists of endemic (43), semi-endemic (35), and quasi-endemic species (16).
Friday, July 17, 2009
"A spectacular day, yesterday. Whether an ardent "birder" or simply a day-venturer, many of you may not yet know about one of the best kept secrets of Patzcuaro and central Michoacan: day trips with Georgia Conti and her co-leader Hugo.
Begun early, the day's first stop was a local bakery not far from Don Chucho's for steaming bolillos. We couldn't wait to savor with a crunch-crunch any longer than the bakery's street-front where Georgia offered butter and jams from the back or her SUV. Then off to the south and Tocambaro where we visited utterly wonderful and spectacular sites that offered us a number of area birds. The second site, a bit past Tocambaro and hidden in a box canyon, waterfalls streaming, was a balneario/restaurant where serveral of us, for the first time, repeatedly saw a Russet-crowned Motmot. Tasty tortas, cervezas, and chips... and lively discussions brought a wonderful trip to a finale........ no wait, more birds, another Motmot.......... and a raven seen from the highway back to Patzcuaro. Other feathers identified were: Happy wren, Blue-black, Sulphur-bellied flycatcher, Rusty-crowne ground-sparrow, juvenile Eastern bluebirds, and a Hepatic tanager.
Note: several of the most jubilant venturers had never been birding before..... and living and traveling in this area will never be the same for them. I think."
Birds of the day: