Thursday, January 8, 2009


Today some photos of a an adult male Golden-cheeked Warbler that we found in Granada, our fourth field site here in Chiapas. This site is about 20 miles east of San Cristóbal de las Casas, which has been our base for the last three weeks. We thought about relocating to Teopisca, to be closer to the Granada site. Then we found that it wasn’t really as far as originally thought. We also found that the hotel there wasn’t as nice as originally hoped for. All in all we considered we were better off staying at Pronatura’s field station in Moxviquil, so after one night in Teopisca, we returned to San Cristóbal today.

I don’t have a big expensive camera with a big expensive lens, so these photos are about as good as it gets for me. Click on the photos for larger views.

This bird was part of a fairly small flock, which comprised 25 members of 16 different species. The Granada site is at a slightly lower elevation than the previous three sites closer to San Cristóbal, and the bird community there, likewise, is slightly different, including Blue-gray Gnatcatchers for example, White-winged Tanagers and Blue-crowned Euphonias. We also saw a Tropical Mockingbird. Those are birds we didn’t encounter around San Cristóbal, which is about 500 m higher in elevation than Granada. Around San Cristóbal, Slate-throated Redstart is common, and Painted Redstart is not. Here, we found a Painted Redstart today and didn’t see any Slate-throateds. Another ‘new’ bird here was Grace’s Warbler, often a common species in Central American pine-oak forest, but curiously absent from our previous field sites.

Now that we’re back in Moxviquil (San Cristóbal), we will be commuting to the Granada field site for the next four or five days. The colectivo from San Cristóbal goes right past the entrance to the field site, and the whole trip is maybe 40 minutes. Incidentally, this road is the Panamericana, or Pan-American Highway, which runs all the way from Alaska to Tierro del Fuego (but with a 54 mile rain forest gap in Panama called the Darién Gap). I have now traveled this road in Canada, Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. A large part of its charm is found in its local particularity: many parts of it, including this stretch in Chiapas, are two-lane rural roads (one lane each way) that connect small villages, and much of its traffic is local.

Back in San Cristóbal, our taxi driver had a little TV screen installed on the passenger side, and was busy watching some movie. Every second, while driving, he would briefly glance at the road ahead of him, and then return to his movie. When after a while I mentioned to Hector that the guy was taking a very circuitous route, and that he was probably too busy watching TV, he immediately paused his program. Two minutes later, we were back in Moxviquil, safe and sound.

In this photo, the goldencheek appears to have some light fringes on the dark throat, but that’s absent in the other photos and wasn’t apparent in the field. It is probably an artifact caused by the bird stretching its throat somewhat. A pure black throat, black eye line and blackish upperparts are field marks of an adult male Golden-cheeked Warbler.

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