You Work with What You’ve Got

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… And sometimes that’s a lot.

Last week, I failed to produce a post, because I was getting ready to spend a week in Mexico’s tropical state of Tabasco. I am teaching for 25 hours in a Presbyterian Theological Seminary, as well as speaking at a Baptist church on Sunday, so there was lots of preparation involved.

Because of the intensive work commitment here, I have not been able to go anywhere except the urban church and the grounds of the Seminary. Fortunately, those grounds are large, beautifully maintained, and full of all kinds of habitat perks. I saw 32 species here in my first 24 hours, some of them exciting ones.

Last year I also visited Tabasco and my Presbyterian friends, which resulted in all sorts of wonderful lifers. But, in spite of a birder friend telling me the town where I was housed should be a good place to see the Russet-naped Wood-Rail, none ever showed up. So I was delighted when the Seminary grounds turned out to host at least 6 of these beautiful birds. The Wood-Rails like to move around in a very visible group. And they are so trusting that I found myself musing whether I would lose Lifer Points if one should happen to climb onto my lap.

My second lifer this trip was a migratory Yellow-throated Warbler, a species I could not hope to see my previous trip, which had occurred in early summer. Alas, this little lovely perched on a wire just outside the window of the classroom where I was teaching at the moment, so no photos were taken. I confess that I did, however, momentarily lose all concentration. Now all my students know about the Yellow-throated Warbler.

When they were building the Seminary, some dirt was removed from a central area. And, this being Tabasco, the resulting hollow immediately filled with water, producing a lovely, birdy pond. Occasionally an Amazon Kingfisher graces this pond, and thankfully, he has no problem with posing for photos.

The pond also enjoys the constant presence of three generations of Northern Jacanas. The male and one subadult sometimes stick together, but are often seen alone. The babies, however, stay close to mama. They are even more awkwardly cute than adult Jacanas.

Happily, one of the Seminary students is also a birder, and he walked the grounds with me on my second evening here. We were happy to experience three birds of prey on this jaunt. A Snail Kite flew overhead, unfortunately a bit too far away to fully appreciate its sharply-hooked bill, made for eating, well, escargots. A Roadside Hawk perched on a post next to, of course, a road. And two Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls toot-toot-tooted from the brush. We were unable to see them, but both showed up for photos the next morning. There is also a family of Barn Owls on the premises, and I have briefly seen the largest of them (enormous!) flying by at night. But that encounter did not lend itself to photography.

In the area of Morelia, where I live, no parrots are to be found. But here, Olive-throated Parakeets and White-fronted Parrots are a constant presence in the early morning and late evening. The photos are grainy because these birds don’t stick around until the light is good.

Two classic birds of Mexico’s east coast are also present. The Brown Jay is noisy, large, and bold. The Clay-colored Thrush may get its name from the fact that it is as common as dirt here.

That’s a Melodious Blackbird in the background. And they are… Melodious, that is.

Red-billed Pigeons are also quite common down here:

Friday evening my new birding buddy is going to take me to one of his off-campus sites. So I may have more stories to tell next week.

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