Friday, September 11, 2009

Birding around Chichicaxtle

The bird pictured here is a Roadside Hawk, a common resident species in this part of Mexico. I photographed it this morning on a walk around the block in Chichicaxtle, where me and the other counters on the VRR project are housed. Last year I often went birding on a dirt road just behind the observation tower, but this year I'm finding that there is other, sometimes more interesting birding to be had elsewhere in the vicinity. Today I saw a few birds that I hadn't previously seen in Chichicaxtle, including two species I don't remember ever having seen in Veracruz (although I have seen them elsewhere in Mexico). White-bellied Wren came in calling on a Ferruginous Pygmy Owl imitation, and stayed well-hid in dense vegetation, before I finally got an unsatisfying look of the bird flying away. Plain Chachalaca is a bird that I don't think I saw here last year, but this morning I found a small group. The other bird that was a first for me in Veracruz was Northern Beardless Tyrannulet. Yellow Warblers, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Orchard Orioles, and Great Crested Flycatchers were abundant neotropical migrants. Altamira Oriole, Blue-black Grassquit, Common Ground-Dove, Inca Dove, Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Short-tailed Hawk, Squirrel Cuckoo, Boat-billed Flycatcher and Great Kiskadee are some of the resident birds easily seen here.

The other cool find was another Magic Shrub! Again, I'm no botanist and can't tell you which shrub this is, although I do remember finding another individual here last year that had a Fox-face Lemmark on it. This had Guava Skipper (above) and Beautiful Beamer (below), and about 20 other species, mostly skippers, on it.

Folks at Pronatura had the excellent idea to create a butterfly garden next to the entrance of the Chichicaxtle observation tower. But good ideas aren't always well executed, and the plants they bought and planted are pretty but don't seem to attract any butterflies. In fact, the yellow 'weeds' across the dirt road are probably far more popular with butterflies. For a really good butterfly garden, I suggest they plant the above species - success guaranteed!

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