Ciel! Mon Mari!

I head off to find the Biosfera El Cielo, which is somewhere in North East Mexico. It is reputed to be a good place for birdies.

Mexico is big.

I drive for 2 days from Fresnillo over flat desert plains. It is a dull trip made worse by a ghastly 2 hours trying to find my way out of St Luis Potosi. However even the grimmest road journey in Mexico is made bright by the rows of stalls that line the road on the way into and out of anywhere. Tacos, birria, burritos, carnitas, fruit of every sort, cold fruit juice, coconuts, roasted maize, steak and kidney pie, etc, etc.

Second from left is Coconut milk, of which I take a liter.
Steak tacos, I immediately order 2 more, and a liter of coconut milk. The whole lot is $3.
He parks his huge truck in the middle of the road and picks up a few tacos. No one seems to mind. They just drive around the truck.

I finally get to the tiny town of Gomez Farias, outside of which there is a Centro Interpretivo. I mime that I would like to find a birdwatching guide. 10 minutes later Mario shows. He is fantastic and seemingly very excited that I am there. He is determined to show me the Altamira Yellowthroat, which is only found within a few miles radius of Gomez Farias. When I say found, it is a simplification. We spend hours snuffling around drainage ditches and after much diligence Mario finds a couple. They move very fast in amongst the reeds. This is birdwatching at its most obsessive!

Altamira Yellowthroat. This photo is a miracle.
A Roadrunner, having a rest, watches Mario and I hunting the Yellowthroat.

I am exhausted but Mario has the bit between his teeth and off we go into the now night to search for owls.

Northern Pootoo.
Mottled Owl

Next day at 07:00, we are off again now accompanied by Esteban who is to be my guide over the next couple of days.

Mario, I, Esteban at 07:00

The first target is the amazing Great Currasow that wander out of the forest to feed early in the morning.

A male. They are turkey sized.
The female of the species.
Montezuma Oropendola. Big

Esteban and I head into the mountains up a very, very rough road. We spend 3 days hammering up and down tiny mountain roads, all in terrible condition.

Well done truck.

We make our way up to the tiny village of Alta Cima, Esteban’s home town.

Esteban’s house, at the back, in Alta Cima.
Main St , Alta Cima

A bird you have never seen before is called a ‘Lifer’ in birdwatching vernacular. I do not think there is a term for birds that you have not even heard of. During the 3 day trip I only see 2 species that I have previously met, the other 50 or so I have not only not met but indeed never heard of. It is truly amazing birding!

Elegant Hawk Eagle. Wow!
Elegant Trogon
Acorn Woodpeckers, one of the 2 species I have seen before.
Hepatic Tanager
Tamaulipas Pygmy Owl. Super rare.
Ferruginous Pygmy Owl. Spot the difference. This sort have stripy heads
Painted Bunting.
Squirrel Cuckoo. Huge.
Wedged Tailed Sabrewing. Never heard of it.
Mr and Mrs Crimson Collared Grosbeak

Anyway, I could go on like this for a very long time but you get the picture. Esteban and I spend 3 exhilarating and exhausting days in the mountains. He is a genius. I camp in his garden and his very funny wife cooks me breakfast; beans, eggs and tortillas, every morning. It is a very simple mud house.

Thank you Esteban. Thank you Mario. Thank you truck. What an adventure!

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3 Responses to Ciel! Mon Mari!

  1. Rosemary says:

    Hey we saw some of those in Costa Rica.
    How exciting to recognise some of your birds! 👍

  2. calderi says:

    What great birds – and amazing people. An epic journey.

  3. virtuallyrachelgmailcom says:

    DELIGHTFUL!! Thank you so much for sharing all this!! ~Rachel

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