El Triunfo Mar 08—18, 2018

Posted by Brian Gibbons


Brian Gibbons

Brian Gibbons grew up in suburban Dallas where he began exploring the wild world in local creeks and parks. Chasing butterflies and any animal that was unfortunate enough t...

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From the desiccated woodlands of Sumidero Canyon to the moss-encrusted oaks of the cloudforest, Chiapas provided a wonderful array of eye candy in the form of birds, mammals, vistas, and butterflies. Our transect of the Sierra Madre de Chiapas took us from the relative comfort of a modern hotel and new bus to camping and hiking for a week. Arriving in Tapachula was a welcome return to civilization, with our amazing experiences along the trail and a few bug bites in tow.

Horned Guan

Horned Guan— Photo: Brian Gibbons


Sumidero Canyon National Park was our first birding location for the tour; the dry woodland in the lowest elevations is like the thorn forest of the Pacific slope. Indeed, some of the birds are there to testify to that: Russet-crowned Motmot, Red-breasted Chat, and the White-throated Magpie-Jay. As we climbed to nearly 4,000 feet, the forests became a little lusher, adding oaks and other trees, many of which still had their leaves, even as the dry season progressed up the mountain. Banded Wrens, Cabanis’s Wrens, Green Jays, and Streak-backed Orioles all presented themselves to us, but the Belted Flycatcher remained hidden in the bamboo. A lovely pair of Collared Trogons sat for scope views as the Belted Flycatcher called from the understory, still unseen. Finally, we made it to the end of the road at Mirador Chiapas. A fruiting fig held the interest of Yellow-throated Euphonias and a Plain Chachalaca while the view held ours. The pinkish limestone walls fell away nearly 2,000 feet to Rio Grijalva below. After a picnic lunch at Tepehuaje, we had to leave Sumidero for the long drive to Jaltenango. Along the way we stopped for a break and few birds, Scrub Euphonia, Dickcissel, and Lesser Goldfinches among them. In the evening we birded the agricultural area of La Tigrilla; many birds were going to roost in the tree lines, and with the irrigation waters forming some small wetlands, the place was awash with birds. The only limit was the sunset and imminent darkness. We enjoyed Vermilion and Scissor-tailed flycatchers, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, kingbirds, Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, a stunning Purple Gallinule, and even a few Red-winged Blackbirds. Just after dark we arrived to a bustling Jaltenango getting ready for their town fair; fortunately, we would miss it and the accompanying human cacophony.

Read Brian’s full report in his Field Report.