Parque Ecologico Chipinque: December 24, 2017

Chipinque proved deserted on the afternoon of Christmas Eve. At the start of Brecha del Chile, I photographed a large mixed-species flock for nearly ten minutes without interruption. This area is often thick with mountain bikers and hikers. Among the many wood warblers species in the flock present was Nashville Warbler. I also picked off a Hermit Warbler in a small canopy flock, my second new tick of the day. Towards dusk, I put my camera to the test photographing Hermit Thrush and Long-Billed Thrasher in the gloomy understory. Despite the poor air quality, the city of Monterrey looked enchanting as I descended the trail in darkness.





Notable birds seen: Mexican Jay, Green Jay, Bridled Titmouse, Black-Crested Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Blue-Grey Gnatcatcher, Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Blue-Headed Vireo, Long-Billed Thrasher, Hermit Thrush, Tennessee Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Hermit Warbler, Black-Throated Green Warbler, Black-and-White Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Painted Redstart, Rufous-Capped Warbler, Hepatic Tanager, Audubon's Oriole.

Parque Ecologico Chipinque: December 23, 2017

For months I have been sleeping in on the weekends well past the dawn chorus, but on Saturday morning I finally got up early to go birding at Chipinque. I was rewarded with several excellent sightings, including Elegant Trogon, Thicket Tinamou, and Blue-Crowned Motmot. I also encountered several mixed flocks with goodies such as Black-and-White Warbler, Bridled Titmouse, and Audubon's Oriole. The only drawback I found to getting an early start is that the trails at Chipinque are more crowded in the morning than the afternoon. Only by luck did I steal a few moments alone with this trogon before a group of mountain bikers barreled past me downhill.




Notable birds seen: Thicket Tinamou, Elegant Trogon, Blue-Crowned Motmot, Mexican Jay, Green Jay, Bridled Titmouse, Black-Crested Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Hutton's Vireo, Long-Billed Thrasher, Hermit Thrush, Black-Throated Green Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Black-and-White Warbler, Painted Redstart, Rufous-Capped Warbler, Audubon's Oriole.

Monterrey: December 17, 2017

Backyard birding is one of the few delights of moving so frequently. Packing up your worldly possessions every year or so and moving to another place can get tiresome. Thankfully, there are new birds to be seen from each new house or apartment window while you're unpacking. My current place in Monterrey, Mexico, has only the humblest of back patios, nothing like the verdant yards Aimee and I enjoyed in Ecuador or Uganda. Still, I've seen a few surprising birds among the few sad plants, including this cheery Wilson's Warbler.  


Notable birds seen: White-Winged Dove, Ladder-Backed Woodpecker, Great Kiskadee, Green Jay, Clay-Colored Thrush, Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Wilson's Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Great-Tailed Grackle.

Parque Ecologico Chipinque: December 9, 2017

It snowed late this week in northern Mexico, and the Monterrey metropolitan area surprisingly received a light dusting. Up in the mountains there was even some accumulation, and on Saturday I encountered a few remaining patches of snow in the shaded recesses of Chipinque. I also continued my streak of seeing at least one new bird on each visit, recording a Long-Billed Thrasher poking around in the leaf litter. Aside from a few small mixed flocks, bird activity was low, but it was still a treat to hike the hills in winter weather.




Notable birds seen: Empidonax flycatcher, Mexican Jay, Black-Crested Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Blue-Headed Vireo, Hutton's Vireo, Long-Billed Thrasher, Hermit Thrush, Black-Throated Green Warbler, Black-and-White Warbler, Painted Redstart, Rufous-Capped Warbler, Hepatic Tanager. 

Parque Ecologico Chipinque: November 10, 2017

I continue to chip away at Chipinque's bird list, seeming to see at least one new bird on every visit to the park. Crescent-Chested Warbler is my most recent find. Looking vaguely like the Northern Parula, the Crescent-Chested Warbler forages with mixed-species flocks in the midstory and canopy of pine-oaks forests. Typically a montane species, it moves to lower altitudes in the winter, which probably explains why I hadn't seen it until the recent cold snap in northern Mexico. I managed to take a few record shots of the warbler, although it will likely take a few more sightings until I capture a photo worth publishing. Instead, here is a photo of the Brown-Backed Solitaire, which I also struggled to photograph well until recently.


Notable birds seen: Elegant Trogon, Black-Crested Titmouse, Bridled Titmouse, Blue-Grey Gnatcatcher, Clay-Colored Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Brown-Backed Solitaire, Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Painted Redstart, Townsend's Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Black-and-White Warbler, Black-Throated Green Warbler, Crescent-Chested Warbler.

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.