Parque Ecologico Chipinque: November 2, 2017

Daylight saving time has ended, and my late afternoon walks at Chipinque now push well into the evening. The dusk quiets diurnal birds, and after the Painted Redstart, Carolina Wren, and Brown-Backed Solitaire turn in, nocturnal birds begin to stir. On Thursday evening, I heard a new voice in the crepuscular chorus, the gentle trilling of the Middle America Screech Owl. The pine-oak forest at Chipinque is dense, and the hillsides are too steep for going off trail, but I need to be prepared for a chance encounter with an owl, forest falcon, or nightjar. From now on, I'll be carrying my spotlight and playback equipment.




Notable birds seen: Middle American Screech Owl (h), Broad-Billed Hummingbird, Acorn Woodpecker, Bronze-Winged Woodpecker, Mexican Jay, Green Jay, Black-Crested Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Brown-Backed Solitaire, Hermit Thrush, Clay-Colored Thrush, Black-Throated Green Warbler, Painted Redstart, Rufous-Capped Warbler, Dark-Eyed Junco, Audobon's Oriole.

Parque Ecologico Chipinque: October 28, 2017

The weather cooled considerably this week in Monterrey. Once the sun set behind the jagged ridge of Chipinque late Saturday afternoon, the temperature plummeted below 60 degrees fahrenheit. Signs of fall were abundant, as Monarch Butterflies drifted southwards overhead, and the pine-oak forest was littered with migrating birds. Two recent arrivals included the Hermit Thrush and Ruby-Crowned Kinglet. I also spotted a resident Rufous-Capped Brush-Finch, found here at the lower end of its altitudinal range from 900-3500 meters. At dusk, as I was descending along the Brecha del Chile, a Collared Forest-Falcon started calling farther up the mountain. Then, a few hundred meters down the trail, a Great Horned Owl began hooting. It was an inspiring end to a bracing hike.





Notable birds seen: Collared Forest-Falcon (h), Band-Tailed Pigeon, Great Horned Owl (h), Broad-Billed Hummingbird, Acorn Woodpecker, Bronze-Winged Woodpecker, Dusky-Capped Flycatcher, Mexican Jay, Green Jay, Black-Crested Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Blue-Grey Gnatcatcher, Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Blue-Headed Vireo, Hutton's Vireo, Hermit Thrush, Clay-Colored Thrush, Painted Redstart, Rufous-Capped Warbler, Hepatic Tanager, Rufous-Capped Brush-Finch, Rufous-Crowned Sparrow, American Goldfinch. 

Parque Ecologico Chipinque: October 22, 2017

It was another tranquil Sunday afternoon at Chipinque. Although very few birds were active, the air was filled with thousands of Monarch Butterflies drifting softly above the pine-oak forest. Fall migration funnels these butterflies directly through Cumbres de Monterrey National Park on their way to southern Mexico. Although no individual butterfly completes the entire migration cycle, it is still remarkable that these seemingly fragile and impotent insects can travel thousands of miles. Despite the spectacle overhead, I did manage to train my eyes into the forest undergrowth below, spotting this Thicket Tinamous shuffling through the leaf litter.



Notable birds seen: Red-Tailed Hawk, Thicket Tinamou, Acorn Woodpecker, Mexican Jay, Green Jay, Black-Crested Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Blue-Grey Gnatcatcher, Hutton's Vireo, Clay-Colored Thrush, Northern Mockingbird, Black-Throated Green Warbler, Rufous-Capped Warbler, Hepatic Tanager, Rufous-Crowned Sparrow.

Parque Ecologico Chipinque: September 30, 2017

Bird activity was remarkably high this afternoon at Parque Ecologico Chipinque, and I saw a number of new birds: White-Throated Swifts swooped out recklessly over the pine-oak forests; a female Elegant Trogon lurked in a shady stand of mature trees; and a female Gray-Collared Becard called plaintively from dense bushes along the trail. It has been raining intermittently this month, and the forest is turning a rich, multihued green. The temperature is also cooling off, making my weekend afternoon hikes much more pleasant, despite the increase in mosquitos. I stayed in the park well after sunset, relishing the feel of the desert night air as I descended along the road.





Notable birds seen: Short-Tailed Hawk, Band-Tailed Pigeon, White-Throated Swift, Elegant Trogon, Acorn Woodpecker, Rufous-Winged Woodpecker, Empidonax species, Grey-Collared Becard, Green Jay, Mexican Jay, Black-Crested Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Blue-Grey Gnatcatcher, Hutton's Vireo, Clay-Colored Thrush, Wilson's Warbler, Black-Throated Green Warbler, Painted Whitestart, Rufous-Capped Warbler, Yellow-Breasted Chat, Hepatic Tanager, Flame-Colored Tanager, Rufous-Crowned Sparrow.

Parque Ecologico Chipinque: October 15, 2017

There was hardly a bird astir this Sunday afternoon. I kept my camera in my backpack until the late evening when I encountered a group of Clay-Colored Thrushes bathing in a shallow pool on the trail. Clouds of mosquitos encouraged me not to linger too long at any one spot, but I had to stop at a clearing to admire the ridge line of the nearby Sierra Las Mitras (for the lapsed Catholic, a miter is the ceremonial headdress of bishops). The panorama surrounding Monterrey is among the most spectacular of any city I have visited, rivaling that of Rio de Janeiro or Cape Town.



Notable birds seen: Band-Tailed Pigeon, Mexican Jay, Clay-Colored Thrush, Hepatic Tanager, Rufous-Capped Warbler.

Parque Ecologico Chipinque: September 24, 2017

I haven't yet visited Parque Ecologico Chipinque in the morning, but my Sunday afternoon routine is proving productive enough. Typically, I ascend from the entrance gate to the lookout on foot along one of the several trails that wind up the mountains. The oak and pine trees provide some shade, and I often find a few mixed flocks despite the mid-afternoon heat. Then, I'll catch the early evening bird activity while descending along the main road, where the visibility is much better. Highlights have included Acorn Woodpecker, Audubon's Oriole, Elegant Trogon, and Brown-Backed Solitaire. I've also been delighted by the occasional New World warbler, including Wilson's Black-and-White, and Black-Throated Green Warblers.





Notable birds seen: Turkey Vulture, Red-Tailed Hawk, Broad-Billed Hummingbird, Acorn Woodpecker, Mexican Jay, Black-Crested Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Blue-Grey Gnatcatcher, Blue-Headed Vireo, Hutton's Vireo, Brown-Backed Solitaire, Clay-Colored Thrush, Black-Throated Green Warbler, Black-and-White Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Painted Redstart, Rufous-Capped Warbler, Hepatic Tanager, Audubon's Oriole.

Parque Ecologico Chipinque: September 17, 2017

On Sunday afternoon, I hiked through the lower section of Parque Ecologico Chipinque, which is located only ten minutes away from my house in Monterrey. Despite the heat, bird activity was surprisingly high, and I encountered several mixed flocks. Highlights included Black-and-White Warbler, Blue-Headed and Hutton's Vireos, and Flame-Coloured Tanager. I also spotted my first Elegant Trogon as it dove downhill from a roadside perch. It's certainly a luxury to live so near to a nature reserve, even if the birding is a little more prosaic than what I've grown accustomed to over the last decade in Uganda, Pakistan, Brazil, Tanzania, and Ecuador. Mexico obviously has a lot to offer birders, and hopefully I'll get out of Monterrey soon to explore the country further.





Notable birds seen: Black Vulture, Short-Tailed Hawk, Plain Chachalaca, Elegant Trogon, Acorn Woodpecker, Bronze-Winged Woodpecker, Mexican Jay, Green Jay, Black-Crested Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Blue-Headed Vireo, Hutton's Vireo, Clay-Colored Thrush, Black-and-White Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Painted Redstart, Chestnut-Capped Warbler, Hepatic Tanager, Summer Tanager, Flame-Coloured Tanager, Rufous-Crowned Sparrow, Orchard Oriole, Audubon's Oriole.