Thursday, August 13, 2015

Sumidero Canyon

We woke up the next day.  No tour bus.  No guide.  Just us. And it felt good.  We could go and explore on our own and at our own pace. The 5 days of tours were brutally intense.  Now it was time to slow down. Or at least that's what my body was telling me. 

We kept it local and returned back to Sumidero Canyon.  Once again, we strapped on our water packs and began the hike into the clouds and canyon. 

Lesser Roadrunner
 One of the target birds that we missed from our treks was the Lesser Roadrunner.  Here in Arizona, we have the Greater Roadrunner.  We couldn't leave Chiapas without spotting one of the "Lessers".  As we walked further up the road, the mist let up some.  It was enough to allow us a brief glance at a "hazy-what-looked-like-a-roadrunner on the road" creature.  Gordon became excited and said, "That's a roadrunner!  I know it is!"  

I'm like, "Yeah right Gordon. And monkeys fly out of my butt.":)  Note to self.  I need a shave badly!"
And me?  I was skeptical.  I had heard that this bird was real but I didn't believe it.  When I saw the bird, I thought, "It can't be. Therefore, it isn't:)" We hurriedly moved forward.  The heavy mist took over and the bird disappeared. WHAT IS IT WITH THIS WEATHER AND NEW BIRDS!!!???? There are no such things as Unicorns.  And there are no such things as Lesser Roadrunners. Then the cloud lifted and all was revealed.  

In true Mexican fashion, it was like witnessing the Virgin of Guadalupe opening her cape with hundreds of roses falling about her.  But in our case, this was real! I do believe in Roadrunners!  I do believe in Roadrunners!  Beep beep!

juvenile Rusty Sparrow
 Then we had a visit from a Rusty Sparrow!  This made us scratch our heads because it wasn't like the ones we had observed on our trips.  Come to find out.  This was a juvenile.  Awesome!

Gray-crowned Yellowthroat
 And the clouds got thicker and thicker making the birding a real challenge!

This Ent almost pulled Gordon under:)  But in reality, it's a beautiful Amate Fig tree with a nice looking root system
I never miss home while I'm traveling, but I guess if I did miss something it would have to be the lighting conditions.  Everyday is practically a nice day in Arizona.  And the birds seem much more cooperative than these neotropical ones. 

Streak-backed Oriole
Take for example this Streak-backed Oriole.  Why in the world does it only pop out for pics in cloudy conditions?  Don't they know we are only there for a short amount of time?  Apparently they didn't get the memo:) 

This pic above is really great.*cough*cough* Some of my best work.  Ever.  We finally have the Oriole sitting on a branch in full cloud "lighting" and I know the pictures will not turn out very well.  In my mind just like my father does during those trying moments, I begin humming that tune by Colbie Caillat, "All you have to do is try try try....."  

As we continued our walk, Plain Chachalacas flew or hopped from branch to branch.  The jays were active.  And so was the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl calling. 

White-throated Magpie Jay
As we ended our trek, I noticed something positive happening near the roadside of Sumidero Canyon. 

Along the way, we noticed how many homes were built close to the road of this "protected" area. It was definitely a poor neighborhood. And it got me thinking a random thought.  In the US, most people with money want their places along the edges of parks etc.  But here in Mexico, it's usually the opposite. Why?  Poverty.  Cut wood for fuel.  Poach animals for food. Raise crops on the areas you just cut down, etc etc.  Most of the hill was bare thanks to obvious clear cutting. 

It is unclear to me whether this happened before the park was put into a protective status or after, but we did witness something positive.  I will end here on this note.  As a teacher, I am happy to report that there was a program teaching kids about planting trees. Good for them! And great for the park! Hopefully in 10 years, the hillside will have a new forest instead of grass. If we don't teach our young about protecting our planet now, we will be in very bad shape down the road. 

So while I was writing this post, I thought about what people might be asking as they read it.  And I think I have it figured out.  The question that came to me was....."What is the difference between a Greater and Lesser Roadrunner?"  Here's a pic comparing the two species. 

Top: Greater Roadrunner Bottom: Lesser Roadrunner
And finally.  This month you can find my work in the latest August edition of Watching Backyard Birds. This is from the publishers of Bird Watcher's Digest.  It was a fun experience putting everything together.  So a big THANK YOU to Dawn Hewitt and team.  If you are paperless, you will find that they have a free online preview of this edition to check out. 

Until next time friends.....


  1. another greast post/ Loved the Oriole adn that tree

  2. I checked out your spread in the magazine. Congratulations. I smiled and proudly said, "I know the author/photographer."

  3. Fantastic post! I loved every minute of it! Interesting the differences between the Greater and Lesser roadrunners. Oh my! I have to get that magazine!!!!

  4. I meant to tell you before (trying to get caught up on some earlier comments people have made on my blog!) that the Cooper's Hawks and Harris Hawks, and the Vermilion Flycatcher are definite faves of mine here in the desert! I appreciated so much you explaining to me that the Cooper's were learning to use their talons by playing in my yard. I think having the open compost heap was a plus! :-)

  5. The beep beep added to the story. Do they really do that? Sometimes you take photos to document something regardless of the light. Still great that you got those shots. Thanks for once again taking us along on your adventure. Congrats on being published!

  6. Congratulations on getting your words in print. Wonderful to be able to share your knowledge and experiences with others. Onward!

  7. Another wonderful post Chris - thanks so much for sharing all your amazing adventures :) Congratulations on getting your work in the magazine - will be checking out the link.

    Love the ent :)

  8. I thoroughly loved this post. Congratulations on being published as well. I love the misty light in those pictures, also that tree was awesome. Thanks for sharing your birds, phyllis


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