Thursday, October 1, 2009

Los Azufres National Park

Years ago my husband and I drove through the mountainous pine forests a bit west of the Monarch butterfly sanctuaries. Although my Mexican friends told me about this geothermal park, nothing was written in any of the guide books at that time. Our curiosity prompted us to explore...and so we did. Los Azufres was lovely, especially sitting in a steaming hotspring for several hours, and I've been wanting to return ever since.

Thanks to a prompting by Mike Judd, three of us left Patzcuaro early September 17. We drove through Morelia's morning traffic snarl, took the autopista east and exited at the Los Azufres sign. We made a few stops (in the town of Jerahuaro) before climbing into the mountains. The woods were eerily silent, and we weren't able to coax a single trogon in. Nor anything else.
Near the crest and just before a CFE power plant, we managed to find La Gachupina, a presa (dam) that is also an ecological park. We spent most of our time combing this area.

The most amazing bird of the day, as least for me, was a very vocal Green violet-ear. It was territorial and vocalized non-stop. Amazing views, and I kept thinking "Too bad Bob from Boise isn't here with his camera."

We also studied a woodpecker for quite awhile. It's bill was very small, like a Downy's. According to Howell and Webb, Downy's are not a Mexican species. Unfortunately, by the time we retrieved our cameras, we were not able to relocate the bird to photograph it. Thus, we reluctantly listed it as a Hairy.

Hearing the rumblings of our bellies, we sought lunch at Adelita's. The meal was good, another eating establishment to remember for future trips.
Rather than turn back to the Autopista, we decided to make a loop by driving towards Ciudad Hidalgo and then through Mil Cumbres on Hwy 15. Of course, we stopped at El Fresno's El Clarin restuarant just in case there were any swifts in the area. We got lucky: White-throated swifts swirled above. Plus, we enjoyed cold beverages and botanas.

The loop from Patzcuaro to Los Azufres and continuing through Mil Cumbres and back to Patzcuaro is an nice day trip.
Birds seen/heard in order of appearance:
Western meadowlark (singing as we exited the autopista)
Rusty sparrow
Hepatic tanager
House sparrow
Common raven
Barn swallow
Wilson's warbler
Northern rough-winged swallow
Chipping sparrow
Canyon towhee
Black-headed grosbeak
Towhee species
Eastern bluebird
Yellow-eyed junco
Cassin's kingbird
Yellow-rumped warbler
Western sandpipers (11 of them)
Spotted sandpiper
House finch
Cinnamon-bellied flowerpiercer
Green violet-ear
Allen's - Rufous hummingbird
Red warbler
Olive warbler
Brown creeper
Black-throated gray warbler
Hepatic tanager
Common raven
Hairy woodpecker (with a very small bill....very similar to a Downy's bill)
Empid flycatcher (pine?)
Ruby-crowned kinglet
Russet or Ruddy-capped nightingale-thrush (didn't fly/didn't see the underwings, no vocals)
Northern pygmy-owl
White-throated swift

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