20 March 2009

‘Sinking the Pink’ on the Border…(Chiapas, Mexico/Guatemala): 12 March 2009

We spent the day birding a steep mountain trail ascending Volcan Tacana up to the Guatemalan town of Tregales. We began our morning in Mexico, although as we climbed the trail we found the distinct line of white obelisks that delineate the border of Chiapas, (eastern Mexico), with the western border of Guatemala. From then on up we crisscrossed from the Mexican side to the Guatemalan side, sometimes seeing the same birds in two countries as they too crisscrossed the frontier in the cloud forest up there (around 2100m in the Guatemalan town of Tregales). This was principally a pilgrimage for a very special warbler, the so-called ‘vision-in-pink’, Pink-headed Warbler. We walked out of Mexico into Guatemala and we still had not got a sniff of this pink-hooded wonder. Just across the border we found our first Black-capped Siskins. This pale-billed siskin is said to be rare and difficult, although we must have hit peak time for them, because we ran into them time and again hanging about in the alder trees between the first border area and the Guatemalan town of Tregales. Just as I was ‘glassing’ my first Ruddy-capped Nightingale-thrush, just below the town (2100m), the shout went up for the ‘pink one’. Nick Athanas and Michael Retter had it in their sights, and I hit the trail after them and this pink-flushed wood-warbler. Three of these fantastic birds graced us for a while, and later in the day we found another pair flitting from one side of the border to the other, letting us get great looks at them both in Mexico and Guatemala. Other top finds included two separate Rufous Sabrewings in the town of Union Juarez, once on the return journey from the volcano, and then absurdly within the parking lot of our town hotel (Hotel Aljoad). Also a Yellow-throated Brush-finch along the trail, a pair of Ruddy Foliage-gleaners proving they can be obliging when the mood takes them, a few Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercers scattered along the track, a striking Blue-and-white Mockingbird hiding out on the scrubby border of Guatemala and Mexico, and a White-faced Quail-Dove perched up nicely not far below the Mexican border. At the end of the day we descended back into Mexico, and the fascinating frontier town of Union Juarez once more.


operador latino said...

I share with you the delight of seeing the Pink-headed Warbler; the last time I saw it was on Feb 23rd, at 95 Km. from Guatemala, City. I hope you come to visit us some time.
Guatemala, C.A.

Miyoko said...

Dear Sam,

I am writing on behalf of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to ask whether you would be willing to grant permission to print your photo of Pink-headed Warbler in the Partners in Flight Trinational Vision, to be published by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, CONABIO (Mexico), Environment Canada, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, National Audubon Society, Pro Natura, and others. Please contact me at mcc37ATcornell.edu Thanks, Miyoko Chu, director, Communications