Monday, May 12, 2014

The Big 30 and the Big 300 (#300-306)

Well, we were mid-hike where I last left #299...

I wasn't aware of it in the field, but I found my 300th bird out in the field, just one day before my 30th birthday. Turns out we found a lot of reasons to celebrate in Yelapa.

I'm not sure how the girl who set out to find 100 birds back in 2010 would feel about me finding #300.  But I think she'd be pretty impressed, and happy that something that started out as a little challenge became a full-blown passion. I think she'd marvel at the small, beautiful things I've found, the secret world I've been discovering, the knowledge I've gained, and the adventures I've had. I'm pretty sure she'd laugh at my unbridled nerdiness.

#300: San Blas Jay; Yelapa, Mexico; February 2014

There are amazing jays in Mexico. I'm still waiting to spot a Green day, on another adventure!

#301: Groove-billed Ani; Yelapa, Mexico; February 2014
I had decided it was time to get moving a little faster (not as much fun when you aren't carrying the camera), but Matt was taking just forever and I was getting a little peeved. eventually I turn back to see where the heck he is, and I realize I totally missed out on a life bird. Luckily we found more soon after!
#302: Inca Dove; Yelapa, Mexico; February 2014
The inca doves were pretty easy to spot, were often pairs, and quite tiny.

 We couldn't believe our luck when we spotted a green kingfisher perched by the river!
#303: Green Kingfisher; Yelapa, Mexico; February 2014

#304: Common Black Hawk; Yelapa, Mexico; February 2014
 Matt had a knack that day for wandering off when I just wanted to get going and seeing life birds so then I'd feel really bad. This beautiful hawk was perched over a very quiet marshy area, right beside a bunch of the ricketiest houses you ever saw. Seemed a bit of a shanty-town over there.

I had a feeling this Muscovy duck was domestic but we weren't sure and took a shot just in case. Wild muscovies have black and domestics have more white. Safe to say this one is domestic!
Confusing Domestic Ducks (and hybrids)
Manky Muscovy Ducks

How's it hanging squirrel? Got nuts?
Not sure about this one...there are so many yellow/grey/brown flycatchers in Mexico!
On my birthday, I wanted to hike to the big waterfall (there's a smaller but also awesome one right in the village). It was about a 2-hour hike each way so we had ample opportunity to bird along the way. I couldn't believe that I'd hit my 300th bird just the day before and really wanted to keep up my "birthday life bird" tradition (it would have been too perfect to find my 300th on my 30th, right? Maybe I'll find my 500th on my 50th, lol!). We'd heard that macaws were frequently seen on the way to the falls and I was so hopeful that we'd see them too.
Following the directions to the falls "crawl through the gate on the left"
We made it all the way to the falls and still hadn't seen the macaws. I was starting to feel that growing, heavy feeling of imminent disappointment...until we heard this crazy loud squawking and these small specks
wayyyyyyyy overhead. The macaws are massive birds (70cm), so for them to appear so small is really something...I really expected them to just be perched on a nearby in a pet shop or something...

Anyways, it was clear that we'd seen them (and I had my birthday lifer), but we only had the most disappointing of photos.

Luckily, on the hike back, a couple flew back quite a bit closer, close enough that you could see the bold sections of colour.

#305: Military Macaw; Yelapa, Mexico; February 2014

While the quality of this shot is pretty far from spectacular, it made me oddly happy. Here are these birds that are at a high risk of being poached for the pet trade and there they are, up there, doing their awesome thing. It was sadly so odd to see them flying so high--because we only ever see them in cages. The reason this picture is not technically very good is the reason it's so awesome: because it's on the birds' terms. Here are two beautiful parrots, wild and free. And on my 30th birthday, I thought that that's pretty much the best thing you can be--wild and free. I can't say how good it is to hit a milestone and feel so immensely grateful, and to feel like maybe you've figured it out. To feel like the path is unfolding before you in the most wonderful way.

The day after my birthday I had a few hours to myself to roam around the village. It was generally pretty quiet, but I did spot this beauty...I'm not sure how, as it was sitting absolutely still.
#306: Russet-crowned Motmot; Yelapa, Mexico; February 2014

Later that day, on our last morning in Yelapa, we started out the day at Cafe Bahia. In addition to our first real coffees in several days and fantastic grub, I loved the view right out front pier, watching the water taxis come in, unload, load up and take off again. I love that on each post of the pier there was an awesome bird...magnificent frigatebird, brown pelicans, and black vultures around too. 
Me and my fave bird.

It's always fun watching the pelicans do their thing--dive bombing for fish, cruising, or taking a snooze on someone's rickety fishing boat. Also hilarious watching them try to turn the fish around to gobble them down whole, or take one that's just a bit too big.
As always lots of yellow/black birds that I could agonize over identifying them or I could just post the pics for you to enjoy.

Love these swallows and love the dramatic backdrop and how they lined up perfectly. Art in nature!
Well, it looks like I reached the end of Mexico 2014. I don't know what it is about that place, but it makes me feel more like me than I ever feel. It strips away all the distractions and everyone and everything is so real. it's vibrant, and confusing, and awesome.

It's so exciting birding away from home and seeing lifers it seems every day. The birding continues at home, but I don't always take my camera with me. but I'm out there, loving it as always.

catch ya later...

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