I haven't posted much on the blog lately. Too busy at work and not seeing much good stuff. After work on Friday I was kicking back and relaxing and thinking about what I was going to do over Spring Break. Honey had to work so I was going to just do some local birding. Then the phone rings and it's my old birding buddy Tony Godfrey from Arizona who I had not seen for almost fifteen years. We had done quite a few birding trips together to Mexico and even one to Ecuador in the early 90's. So I invited him over and before you know it we have the car packed and we're heading off to Mexico just like the old times. This time the trip was a short one to El Cielo Biosphere Reserve near Gomez Farias in southern Tamaulipas to do some photography.
The trip started rather inauspiciously with a speeding ticke shakedown in Reynosa. The cop wanted 1500 pesos becasue I was driving with the traffic in a 40 k/hr zone. Now every one else was going about 40 mph but that didn't matter to him. He settled for $40 and we were on our way. Immediately we saw him pull over another unfortunate gringo for the next round of extortion. Guess he was having a good day. We got to Gomez Farias about 6PM after a five and a half hour drive and a bried stop at Vicente Fernandez on the Rio Sabinas where we saw a pair of Moscovey.
We checked into the Posada Campestre for 490 pesos per night. It's a fairly comfortable place that could really be nice with a little work and maintenance. The next morning we ran into a tour group led by fellow Valley birder Roy Rodriguez. He gave us a site for Singing Quail but we had no luck. Conditions were very dry at the lower elevations but were good higher up with quite a few birds but light rain kept inerferring with our photography attemps. Best bird was this Blue Ground-Dove.
There were lots of White-winged Tanagers around but my camera had a tough time in the dark conditions.
We had a calling Tamaulipas Pygmy Owl that would not show itself. Other fun stuff we saw included Flame-colored and Yellow-winged Tanagers (not shown to occur in Tamaulipas by Howell but I've had it in the El Cielo area three times), Scrub and Yellow-throated Euphonias, Barred Antshrike (great looks but my camera let me down), Crimson-collared and Hooded Grosbeaks, Spot-breasted Wrens, Black-headed Saltators, Rufous-capped, Golden-crowned and Cresent-chested Warblers, Brown-backed Solitires, Rufous-browed Peppershrikes and wintering warblers. Dark conditions and rain may for some pretty crappy photos. This Gray Hawk was obliging.
The rain forced us down the mountain so we headed over to Bocatoma restaurant in the lowlands south of Gomez Farias. A maze of clear freshwater rivers and streams drain the east side of the Sirra Madre. Bocatoma raises tilapia, catfish and large prawns in concrete pools fed by the crystal waters. Tony and I downed a couple of kilos of the huge prawns drowned in butter and garlic. Not a meal that willl soon be forgotten! Here's a link to more info about Bocatoma. http://www.ericrench.com/MEXICO/TAMAUL/GOMEZF/BOCA/index.htm