16 March 2009

Field trip - 11 Mar. 2009

Today was our fieldtrip!  Starting early this morning, we piled into 2 vans to head up into the hills.  Our destination was the Tufted Jay Preserve, about a 2.5 hour drive up and away from Mazatlan.

Even the foothills provided some interesting birds during a couple brief stops.  However, the real fun began once we started hiking through the Tufted Jay preserve.  At around 6,000 ft in elevation, the forest was primarily a pine/oak mix.

One of the target birds was pretty easy to find, the below White-striped Woodcreeper, an endemic of west Mexico:

A bird all of us eagerly hoped to see was the Red Warbler, an endemic species of the humid montane forests of Mexico.  Indeed, halfway through our walk, one had been spotted.  The below individual was nice enough to even pose for a second!

Another warbler, the Slate-throated Redstart, was very common.  Photographed below is a redstart that (kind of) stayed still long enough to be photographed:

Another species we encountered several times was the montane-endemic Mountain Trogon.  Below is a female:

Several species of Brush-Finches were also present although somewhat hard to see.  These skulkers would prefer foraging in the understory.  Below is a Mexican endemic, the Rufous-capped Brush-Finch:

Another species of Brush-Finch also freqented the area, the Green-striped Brush-Finch.  This endemic species was quite hard to find on the trip hence a very poor quality photo.  However, I was thrilled to find at least a couple:

A special treat was seeing 2 Stygian Owls!  This owl is a rather local species that prefers pine and pine-oak forests:

Tracking down a series of "pip-pip-pip" notes yielded this Greater Pewee:

Of course, weighing in on all our minds was the fact that we hadn't seen Tufted Jays yet!!   The Tufted Jay is a very local species and is endemic to a small area of mountains in NW Mexico.   We were actually getting quite worried towards the end of our trip that we would miss it!  However, it all paid off when we eventually found a group of Tufted Jays (and making a nest, no less!!). However, the jays stayed quite high up in the trees (see below):

All relieved that we had found the jays, we headed back down the mountain.  We pulled off on a small road to look for some other foothill species.  It wasn't long before I heard parrot-like screeching overhead.  Looking up, I was excited to find that they were the uncommon and local Military Macaws!  Nine in total (group of 5 & group of 4), the high-flying flocks flew overhead and out of view:

All in all, a great day of birding up in the mountains of west Mexico.  Below is a list of the new trip species:

(*) = Mexican endemic

* Brush-Finch, Green-striped 
* Brush-Finch, Rufous-capped 
Cacique, Yellow-winged 
Chickadee, Mexican 
Cowbird, Bronzed 
Creeper, Brown 
Flycatcher, Dusky-capped 
Flycatcher, Tufted 
Grosbeak, Yellow 
Hawk, Red-tailed 
Hawk, Sharp-shinned 
Hummingbird, White-eared 
Jay, Steller's 
* Jay, Tufted 
Junco, Yellow-eyed 
Kingbird, Thick-billed 
Kinglet, Ruby-crowned 
* Macaw, Military 
* Magpie-Jay, Black-throated 
* Mockingbird, Blue 
* Nightingale-Thrush, Russet 
Owl, Stygian 
Pewee, Greater 
Pigeon, Band-tailed 
Pygmy-Owl, Northern 
Raven, Common 
Redstart, Painted 
Redstart, Slate-throated 
Solitaire, Brown-backed 
Tanager, Hepatic 
* Tanager, Red-headed 
Thrush, Hermit 
Towee, Spotted 
Trogon, Mountain 
Vireo, Plumbeous 
Warbler, Crescent-chested 
Warbler, Golden-browed 
Warbler, Grace's 
Warbler, Hermit 
Warbler, MacGillivray's 
* Warbler, Red 
Warbler, Red-faced 
Warbler, Townsend's 
* Woodcreeper, White-striped 
Woodpecker, Arizona 
Wren, Canyon