Thursday, April 1, 2010

Tabasco, Mexico – Pantanos de Centla

March 22, 2010
The tour that Steve Howell and I led in Oaxaca and western Chiapas officially ended this morning, with most of us flying home from the Oaxaca City airport. A couple remained in Oaxaca to visit markets, while Steve and I flew to Villahermosa, the capital of Tabasco.

Steve and I were on our way to eastern Chiapas to scout some new tour areas, but with this afternoon being a travel day to Palenque, I took the opportunity to show him a new area.

The Pantanos de Centla to the north and northeast of the large city of Villahermosa (where the major rivers of Grijalva and Usumacinta merge) are the largest freshwater wetlands between the Everglades and the Pantanal. It is STUFFED with birds. Steve has been birding in Mexico for nearly 30 years, and today he saw more Bare-throated Tiger-Herons (a good count of about 55) and Northern Jacanas (a rough guess of 1000) than on any other day of his life.

Here are some photo highlights from our afternoon drive.

A view of the marsh habitat.

Bare-throated Tiger-Heron adult

Bare-throated Tiger-Heron immature

Pinnated Bittern (we saw about 20 of these)

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks in flight

Black-collared Hawk

Gray-breasted (left) and Purple (right) Martins

Vermilion Flycatcher (the reddest female either of us have seen). An adult male was courting it, and the plumage is wrong for an immature male.

This purple flowering tree was frequent along the roadside.

One of our last stops was for this Crane Hawk right next to the road.
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I digivideoed the bird (held my little camera up to the spotting scope), showing how close it was to the road.
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While I was digiscoping the Crane Hawk, a Snail Kite flew by, and then Steve noticed this Great Black-Hawk perched just a short distance away. What a place!

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