Monterrey, México – May 2019

Travelling with work is always exciting and a great privilege but when I can tag a few extra days to wildlife watch in other countries, it takes it to the next level.

That’s especially true for Mexico, a country with so many species of bird, insect, reptile and amphibian, it’s almost overwhelming. The feeling of arriving somewhere where nearly all species will be new is pretty exciting.

Arriving in Monterrey, in the Nuevo León province of Mexico, I was picked up by my friend Ernesto who’s hospitality would be tough to beat. After tacos and a stop at his home to see the family we headed out to Grutas de García, a system of caves pretty high up in the hills. The landscape was arid, hot and unforgiving.

Whilst waiting to see the caves I managed to spot a few new birds including a hooded oriole, bronzed cowbird, curve billed thrasher, white winged dove, house finch and lesser goldfinch.

Up at the top we had views of white throated swift, raven and a blue throated hummingbird taking a rest.

BTHB

After the incredible caves, complete with a rock decorated as a Christmas tree (?!?!?), we headed to a location of deciduous forest known as Chipinque National Park. On the way we had views of several scissor-tailed flycatchers and tropical kingbirds on the wires as well as loads of turkey vultures.

Entering Chipinque Park, the atmosphere suddenly changed. The temperature dropped, humidity went up as did the biodiversity. The park is a really popular spot so we chose to pop there at the end of the day when it was starting to quieten down. Driving up to the top, we parked up and then took a few trails down before climbing back up looping around on the road.

We got some lovely views of acorn woodpeckers, flame-coloured tanager, olive and green woodpecker, Mexican Jay,  brown-crested flycatcher and enjoyed the flute like descent of the brown backed solitaire.

The park is well known for a smallish possum-like mammal called the coati. None showed up but apparently they’re always around. My bad luck. Bear, coyote and grey fox also inhabit the area but no luck this visit.

The next morning we visited Enstanzuela Ecological Park. This place was damn hot. We took a long route in, parking outside the park and entering along the road. Three species of swallowtail were spotted here, even managing to get them all in one shot. Ornythion swallowtail; mexican tiger swallowtail; eastern giant swallowtail

Other butterfly species there included:

  1. Red rim butterfly
  2. Texan crescent
  3. Mexican silverspot
  4. Black swallowtail
  5. White patched skipper
  6. Eyed sister
  7. Mimosa yellow

 

Bird-wise it was pretty buzzing. Despite being late afternoon, birds were still very active and I was soon introduced to new species after new species. A walk along the main footpath, crowded with families out for the day, still gave good views of rufous capped warbler, yellow warbler, sulphur bellied flycatcher and a Say’s phoebe.

Reptiles were about too with two new lizards popping up along the way: a rose-bellied lizard and a small scincella silvicola.  The place was also teeming with Pterophylla beltrani, a type of Katydid bush cricket.  Literally everywhere, and at different phases of development.

On the way out of the park we came across one of the birds I had wanted to see – great kiskadee. The bird perched for us very obligingly, allowing me to get some photos. On the way out, we also picked up a broad billed hummingbird sitting on the wire. Didn’t get any good shots but enough to pick up the dark body and the bright orange beak.

Kiskadee

A quick stop at a very famous waterfall later on gave us a view of black vulture flying nearby turkey vultures.

Here and there

The rest of the birds seen on the trip were largely on the roadside as we drove to and from work. was really excited to see several crested caracara flying past and landing near the factory. Around the factory in fact I managed to find a few more species including american redstart, lesser goldfinch, tropical kingbird and a few common ground and mourning doves. The star there however was a killdeer that flew and landed not 5 metres away from us, allowing for some great photos.

Near my friend’s house, I managed to find some Inca doves, clay coloured thrush and one more blue throated hummingbird.

 

Overall, a great trip made even better by my friend and host, Ernesto, a true gent (and a non-birder who learned a lot about his country’s natural history over the two days) and his beautiful family who made me feel very at home. Mi casa es tu casa indeed!!!

Birds

  1. Eastern kingbird
    2. Great egret
    3. Black vulture
    4. Turkey vulture
    5. White winged dove
    6. Collared dove
    7. Inca dove
    8. Broad billed hummingbird
    9. Blue throated hummingbird
    10. Acorn woodpecker
    11. Gold fronted woodpecker
    12. Golden olive woodpecker
    13. Great kiskadee
    14. Great crested flycatcher
    15. Eastern kingbird
    16. Scissor tailed flycatcher
    17. Purple Martin
    18. Barn swallow
    19. Mexican jay
    20. Raven
    21. Black crested titmouse
    22. Curve billed thrasher
    23. Yellow warbler
    24. American redstart
    25. Flame coloured tanager
    26. Common grackle
    27. Great tailed grackle
    28. Brewers blackbird
    29. Bronzed cowbird
    30. Hooded oriole
    31. House finch
    32. House sparrow
    33. White throated Swift
    34. Lesser goldfinch
    35. Black throated sparrow
    36. Brown backed solitaire
    37. Sulphur bellied flycatcher
    38. Rufous capped warbler
    39. Say’s phoebe
    40. Clay coloured thrush
    41. Ash throated flycatcher
    42. Crested caracara
    43. Killdeer
    44. Western kingbird
    45. Common ground dove
    46. Mourning dove
    47. Tree Martin
    48. Feral pigeon
    49. Tropical kingbird
    50. Snowy egret

 

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