New world warblers in pine-oak forest in Mexico, Part II

…….on the way back back to Patzcuaro I had not been in the pine mountain-forest interspersed with oaks for a long time when I encountered my first Mexican (Grey breasted) Jay of the day. It is a flock, which roam sometimes on the road, sometimes on the lower branches of the pines in search of food. I had to stop and immediately started to keep the situation photographically. Short after I discover the best mixed flock, which I saw so far on this journey. Everywhere there were yellow, red, blue, orange, green colours which obtain the impression of a multicolored Mobilés. Maybe you get an impression when you see the gallery. Some species of bird such as American Treecreeper (Certhia americana), White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis), Mexican Chickadee (Poecile sclateri) and Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula) are related close to species of old world (palearctic) bird species, others, like the Pine Flycatcher (Empidonax affinis) and the Tufted Flycatcher (Mitrephanes phaeocercus) exhibit interesting similarity with eurasian bird families as the flycatchers despite any genetic relations lacking. For most European observer however many species have a strange appearance for such a cool-tempered environment. Mainly these birds belong to the highly-coloured,  very remarkable species of new world warblers, e.g. birds such as Slate-throated Redstart (Myioborus miniatus), Olive Warbler (Peucedramus taeniatus), Red Warbler (Ergaticus ruber), Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata), Townsend’s Warbler (Dendroica townsendi), Hermit Warbler (Dendroica occidentalis), MacGillivray’s Warbler (Oporornis tolmiei) or Wilson’s Warbler (Wilsonia pusilla). That is an impressing bird world, which is associated in the normal Europeans mind neither with Mexico nor with the term „(leaf-)warblers“. In this particulary species-rich bird flock I could observe in addition, the Cassin’s Vireo (Vireo cassinii) and the Red-headed Tanager (Piranga erythrocephala), With so much activity a representative of the hummingbirds may not be missing naturally also. It is a very colourful male White-eared Hummingbird (Hylocharis leucotis). This not a rare hummingbird but its appearance in order to visit blooms in the bush layer is a photographic highlight anyway. The understory vegetation on that mountainous stage is quite well developed, although this forest is surely no virgin mountain forest and is used economically as you can see from the logging activities further down the road. I was so busy with the multicolored bird crowd that I notice an flying movement only from the eye angle. A Mountain Trogon (Trogon mexicanus) approached loudless and took its seat quite low in the middlestorey of the forest on a branch. Really the highlight on this morning! Obviously only loosely associated with the mixed flock, the activity obviously was driving the Mountain Trogon´s interest. Of course I had to switch my photo lens on this colourful representative of the neotropical world. Since I have been all the time in the car, the Trogon obviously did not notice me. Only after some photos from inside the car I stepped out  in order to move closer to the bird, it flew off.

An impressing experience: just at a normal pine forest besides at one curve of the highway serpentine road of central Mexico. As fast as all the birds emerged they disappeared again. The disappearing different contact calls could be heard still for a while in the canopy of the oaks and pines. That turned my view to the sky. Hawk circled high up in the sky over me. A worthy finish of exciting birding in the morning in Mexico.

A longer version of this blog has been published in german by the author in the journal of the “Brehm-fonds” with the name “Zum Fliegen geboren” resp. “Flying free”, Vol. 22, New Series, No. 1 2004



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