Monday, August 17, 2015


White-fronted Parrot
Eventually all good things must come to an end. With one day left and physical exhaustion finally catching up with me, we decided to dedicate our lives to creating a new hotspot for Tuxtla Gutierrez.  And find those blasted parrots flying around our hotel!

Tropical Kingbird
For days, we observed possibly hundreds of these birds flying from our hotel to the park across the street. There were at least two species that kept squawking over our heads as we slipped our hotel card into the door.   It drove us nuts! By the time we'd get back, the sun would be setting or we'd be exhausted from our daily treks out into the field. We'd see their shadows fly above our heads and try to find the field marks with our binos. So after our tour, the hunt began.  And we walked our neighborhood and scoured every building and tree out there. Here's what we discovered. 

Caña Hueca Park
There was indeed a park next to our hotel.  It was safe for us to carry our cameras, at least during the day. This park was a place for people to mainly exercise.  But from within it, there were a great number of bird species flying around!  To make it even more enticing, a canal flowed through a part of the area attracting several water birds like Snowy Egrets and Neotropical Cormorants. When I looked on ebird, I realized that this park was not an ebird hotspot.  It's within a green area of the city and a perfect spot for local and visiting/migrating birds.  The park is known as Caña Hueca. 

juvenile Social Flycatchers
Around the park area, we visited several shopping centers to observe which birds intermingled among the humans.  It was a bit strange for shoppers to watch us snap photos of birds in the parking garage area:)  Beyond caring anymore:)  

Grey-breasted Martin
Anyhow, back to the parking garage.  I saw a bunch of these swallows flying into the shade and I thought they were Northern Rough-winged Swallows. Thanks to Michael Retter, he said, "HEY!  Those are Grey-breasted Martins!"  Mother of pearls, he is right.  I have only seen this species once in Antigua, Guatemala.  Instinctively, I knew I had to take a picture of this bird.  But I had Northern Rough-winged Swallow in my brain.....not a Martin:)  Thank you Michael for catching the ID!   

The park itself is lovely for people who love to run.  They had this soft padding throughout the area and I have to admit that I didn't mind walking on it:)

Along the way, we found our parrots in large numbers around the park feeding on the various fruit trees.  

There were several times when a large seed or fruit almost knocked me out!  White-fronted Parrots hid everywhere in the foliage.  Sometimes they could be seen out in the open.  AND they were ALWAYS heard:)

Groove-billed Ani
We had several Groove-billed Ani hanging out in the trees!  And then there were Scrub Euphonias darting around the branches. Some even hung out at our hotel!

Scrub Euphonia
The place was amazing! We had 27 species in this park alone!  It just proves that you don't have to go far sometimes to find amazing birds. 

Looks just like the leaves
Parrots and Parakeets have always been a fascination for me.  To be honest, I hate their chatter.  Their squawking hurts my ears too much BUT I love everything else about them.  They are social.  They are highly entertaining in the wild once you spot them. And they have a VERY set routine.  They get up early in the morning and make a lot of noise to wake up the hotel birders.  No need for an alarm.  Then they head over to the park or Marriott hotel and feed off the trees around the property.  By 5:00 PM, it's time to head back to their "sleep" area and snuggle in together on top of the Marriott hotel roof or other man made structures. By observing their daily routine, we were able to track them to their food sources and get great pics. 

Green Parakeets
It is my hope that this park will become a hotspot for future birders visiting Tuxtla Gutierrez.  There aren't many hotspots at all within the city and yet I know the city is full of surprises. If people ebirded like they did in Tucson, I can only imagine what would be found!  I wouldn't mind living there for a year and exploring the various watering holes, etc around town. 

Green Salsa Chilaquiles
 Every chapter in our life must close.  And for me, this trip to Mexico was healing.  I still had a torrid love affair with chilaquiles.  Perhaps the best breakfast or hangover cure out there. But I was so sad. I wasn't ready to go home.  I sat looking at my food not wanting to eat.  Because it meant that once I ate it, I would not have a decent plate of chilaquiles for a LONG time after.  So I took a picture.  It's refried black beans, green or red salsa over fried tortilla strips with shredded chicken and topped with delicious Mexican cheese that just screams, "OH YEAH!"  And so on my last bite, my affair ended.  Oh love can be so cruel!

But then something perked me up.  A cow. The cow is a symbol of my Wisconsin roots.  It reminded me of where I grew up. The coffee was Mexican and I remembered why I pursued Spanish as my passion.  When I mixed the two together, I remembered why I chose Tucson as my home.  I will be back Mexico.  I have missed you. 

On our flight into Mexico City, we flew over the volcano known as Popocateptl near the beautiful colonial city of Puebla.  I suffered from a bit of nostalgia. I hiked those mountains. I lived there.  I became "me" there.  While I saw many birds on this wonderful trip, I couldn't help but think of all of my human experiences in this country.  While the guided tours were awesome (as were the people), I won't do them again. Part of the reason I love to bird abroad so much is that I get to know the local people in the area. And that comes from my Spanish training. It enriches the whole experience.  Plus when I find a bird, I earn it.  No one found it but ME. And that's a life bird earned in my book. I know there will be times when I need to call on someone for help.  The Nava's Wren is a perfect example of THE bird I could not find on my own. This trip was amazing and it better defined who I am as a birder. For that I am grateful.  And to people like Laurie Foss and Michael Retter(and everyone else!) who put this trip together, THANK YOU!  It was flawless.  You guys did a great job!  

A Giant Swallowtail greets me on my return home to Tucson.  This butterfly was laying eggs on my citrus plants in our garden. We all live in an amazing world!
As Las Aventuras leaves the neotropical world behind, we return back to Madera Canyon and begin the third chapter of "Americano". Until next time friends.........


  1. Great trip for sure, I can hear your enthusiasm in your words. I bet a LOT of us birders would have loved to have been with you!

  2. Well that was a lovely round up from your last day there and you eventually saw the PARROTS.
    A good things must come to an end and you did look well especially after so many birds continual birding. I have a cow milk jug here which my grand children love when they come.

  3. Your clear writing with sufficient details had me wanting to do a bird check list of your sightings as if they were my own! Wonderful, memorable trip for you and I have no doubt that you will not wait overly long to return.

  4. Hi Chris, it was an awesome trip! I am envious! My favorites are the parakeets and the groove-billed Ani. Great post!

  5. Looks like you had a wonderful trip to Mexico!
    I love parrots and I enjoyed every one of the photos in this post, particularly those of Parrots.
    The creamer pot is cool too.
    Have a Happy Week!
    Peace :)

  6. Wonderful pictures, but the Swallowtail butterfly is my favourite.

  7. Have so enjoyed reading about your wonderful trip, wildlife and experiences :) A lovely last day too - its great to see the variety of birds seen in a more urban environment :) I love the little cow milk jug and that last photo of the butterfly :)

  8. I'm also from Wisconsin! Scarlet Macaws have the most annoying squawk I've ever heard. But I'm glad they do. Then you don't miss a sighting. The trip looked amazing. Breakfast is delicious in Central America too.

  9. Oh, Chris...this was such a sweet post, like a boy returning home, in a sense, and I am sorry you will have to wait to return. I loved the birds! But I also loved the Mexican breakfast and that cute picture of you with the cow creamer! I'm being grandmotherish, right now...sorry. :-) You found some amazing birds just in that park! The Ani of course is so beautiful and tropical but I loved that you found that Grey-Breasted Marton! Looks like the entire trip was amazing, and I loved sharing it on here (and facebook) with you!

  10. You finished on a high Chris. Another great write up. Looks like you found a new birding site at Caña Hueca for all those who are now going to follow your lead. I'm not a fan of parrots and parakeets either but I put that down to regarding them as cage birds even though I know that there are many species in the wild. We don't have any in the UK either so the whole family is difficult to relate to.

  11. Really enjoy seeing your trips. Thanks for keeping us along for the ride. The cow pitcher is too cute.

  12. Great birds, terrific photographs, delicious food, fantastic trip! Thank you for continuing to share your adventures! (Totally jealous, of course!)

    Very nice post, Chris!

  13. Chris, what an amazing trip. I love it that you birded some unbirded places and created a new eBird Hotspot! wonderful! I am glad you explained that food you were eating because I had never heard of it before and couldn't figure out what it was from the picture! I am still playing catch-up on my blog reading and hope to get to the rest of it soon! You will return to this place, I am sure!


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