[Tweeters] thanks for Mexico help, Tweeters [long]

Gary Bletsch garybletsch at yahoo.com
Wed Jul 26 16:05:53 PDT 2006

Dear Tweeters,

Thanks to all the many Tweeters who made suggestions
about birding in Mexico. All of you were right! Every
leg of the trip, and all the birding stops, were just
about perfect, the only real hassles coming at the
Houston, Texas airport.

I did 99% of the birding in the state of Oaxaca, and
managed to find most of the specialties.

The one area where I came up somewhat short was on the
hummers. Hummingbird watching was not exactly red-hot
down there, and I missed five of the Oaxaca
specialties. No luck was to be had in my search for
Garnet-throated, Amethyst-throated, Cinnamon-sided, or
Green-fronted Hummingbird, or for Long-billed
Starthroat. I think I saw five species of hummer
altogether, including Doubleday's race of the
Broad-billed. However, the only species that I got
great looks at repeatedly was White-eared. I did not
find any hummingbird feeders or extensive flower
gardens, so that was part of the problem. Also, most
of the hummers seemed to be in a great hurry, zipping
by much faster than I am used to with, say, Rufous or

The only other "miss" that leaps out at me was the
Ruddy-breasted Seedeater, but that is one bird I
neglected to search for, and spent maybe one hour in
its habitat altogether.

About the hardest bird to find was the Oaxaca Sparrow,
which took about five visits to appropriate habitat,
just to get one quick look. Cinnamon-tailed
(Sumichrast's) Sparrow, by contrast, was easy to find,
still singing even in the heat.

Political situation in Oaxaca was a bit up in the air,
what with a teachers' strike that turned destructive
here and there, but nothing too scary.

The suggestions about driving were much appreciated. I
did one day with a driver, just he and I in a compact
car. That was nice, but it cost me about $135 US, with
tip, so that was the end of that. Car rental was the
way to go. I found the driving more difficult than
stateside, but nothing like the lunacy of driving in
the Middle East. The flexibility and range of birding
by car was, just as several Tweeters suggested,
absolutely necessary for the success of the trip.
There simply is no other way to get to the sites by
dawn, at least not without staying for several months.

I ended up identifying 174 species in 12 days, only 8
days of which were really birding days. Good sites
included Monte Alban; Highway 175 North; La Cumbre (NW
and SE roads); the drive from Oaxaca City to Puerto
Angel; Puerto Angel-Zipolite area; La Soledad-El
Mirador Restaurant area; the drive from Puerto Angel
to Tehuantepec, along the Pacific coast; arid
scrublands west of Tehuantepec; Tapanatapec foothills
(east of Tehuantepec, including a tiny incursion into
far-western Chiapas); the drive from Tehuantepec to
Oaxaca City. Those who know Oaxaca will notice that I
skipped the northern and southwestern parts of the
state, two areas that would have offered a lot more
variety to the birding, had I been able to reach them
in the time available.

I dragged my scope along, and it was really useful
only a handful of times. I did find one good shorebird
spot: 8 species of shorebirds at a salt lagoon west of
Salina Cruz. Other than that, and four or five other
moments spent with some birds that perched for a
while, and the scope was an albatross around my neck.
Someday I must try a trip without it....

The only place where insects were a nuisance were
inside my hotel room in Oaxaca City at night. I never
did figure out if they were bedbugs or something else,
biting me only below the waist, where the blankets
presumably would have protected me from mosquitoes. Oh
well, fifteen bucks a night!

Thanks again to all the Tweeters who took so much time
to offer excellent, thought-provoking suggestions.

Yours truly,

Gary Bletsch

near Lyman (Skagit County), Washington

garybletsch at yahoo.com

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