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Chiapas, Mexico, 28/1 - 7/2/16 (1 Viewer)

jwreeves

Well-known member
Here is a summary of my 8 night solo trip to the easternmost state of Mexico, Chiapas.
I decided upon visiting here as I have wanted to see Rose-bellied and Orange-breasted buntings and Pink-headed warbler for many years, since picking up a copy of Howell & Webb's ' A guide to the birds of Mexico and northern Central America' as a teenager. The prospect of some winter sun was also appealing!
I finished the trip with 247 species, 66 of which were lifers, plus 5 more heard only. Despite this I had mixed feelings about the trip. Despite visiting some nice spots and seeing many good birds, the poverty of some areas, especially around San Cristobal, and some of the security issues of this area kind of took a bit of enjoyment out of the trip for me. Not being able to speak Spanish didn't help, I learnt a few phrases before I went and this just got me through. If anyone is considering going this needs bearing in mind, going in a group with at least 1 fluent Spanish speaker would be recommended, and I would strongly consider getting a guide for san cristobal to take you to the safer spots. I contacted Francesca Albini for my guide for 1 full day for San Cristobal and she was a very knowledgeable guide, with a strong passion for birds and good company.

The weather was mostly hot, only uncomfortably so around Puerto arista and Arriaga, with rain around san cristobal 1 morning and almost continuously around lagunas de Montebello. Something warmer was required for early morning/evenings around san cristobal due to elevation.

Costs etc...

I flew with aeromexico, heathrow to tuxtla Gutierrez, changing in mexico city, at a cost of just under £530 return including credit card fee. I thought I booked with them direct, via their English website, but it was actually through bravo travel. I had no issues and saved c£200, but have read if any issues arise they can pass the blame between one another. The heathrow - mexico flight was on time and arrived 40 mins early, the flight to tuxtla was 1:15 late, no reason given until after about 45 mins in! This on top of the planned 6 hour layover...! The flight from tuxtla to mexico was also on time, the mexico - heathrow flight was being advertised as an hour early, but we boarded on original schedule, again no explanation, only to sit there for 2 hours due to some incident on the plane!

Car hire was through europcar, prebooked online at a base rate of £250 for a 1.6 Renault logan, not the best car in world, with the gear box and brakes feeling as if they were on the way out, but it got me through. I also paid US$300 for 'fully' comp insurance(which didn't include tire and window damage, in an area with some shocking roads and crime) and a satnav when there, this was about 5500 pesos when paid in cash at the end of trip.

I pre-booked 4 of my 8 nights, 2 separate nights in tuxtla Gutierrez at the holiday inn(£60) and best western(£40), and 2 nights at the fiesta inn in san cristobal(£70 p/n). Hotels were easy to find there and there is something for all budgets, when there I spent 2 nights at hotel parador in Arriaga(750 pesos over the 2 nights), a cabin in lagunas de Montebello for 200 pesos and another night at the fiesta inn san cristobal for 940 pesos.

I paid Francesca US$100 for my guided day.

I took 15000 pesos(cost me £645 in shop at post office, could have saved £20/30 online), of which I spent 12,780. This broke down into c2500 for gas, 1890 for the 4 nights non-booked hotels, 630 on tolls(140 each way between tuxtla and Arriaga, 60 each way between tuxtla and el ocote, and 50 each way between tuxtla and san cristobal) and 293 for entrance fees, plus 5500 for car extras. The rest was on food and water.
Total cost of trip was under £1700, probably do-able for a bit less

Driving

An experience! I visited costa rica last year so had an idea of what latin America is like, but the first day was still a shock! In the cities people are cutting corners, overtaking, undertaking and basically doing what ever they feel like. Staying alert, calm and assertive are essential. Topes are in all built up areas, mostly unsigned, invisible until you are about to hit it, most seemingly just there for no reason and many are just brutal that would do real damage if hit at any speed. Just east of san cristobal there was a blockade where locals were asking for 'donations', tooled up with poles and sticks that looked like they were designed for car smashing for people that didn't pay them. Between san cristobal and comitan there were major roadworks, that seemed like literally between the 2 cities! It took an age to get through on my outward trip, and the road was shut on return, forcing a long unsigned detour via Tzimol and La rosas, that was more pothole than road in many parts! Some of the roads up the mountains around san cristobal were steep and unpaved in parts(cerro tzontehuitz), but drivable with care. Locals can block roads for a full day unannounced around here so be prepared for the possibility. Security checkpoints were encountered between tuxtla and el ocote and just south of comitan. If flagged over just be polite, show them your passport and answer the questions they ask. Driving at night is discouraged but I usually left to get to places at daybreak, would say the road between tuxtla and Arriaga is in the best condition for night driving

Safety

All people I encountered seemed very friendly, even at the blockade! Of the sites I visit, all are 'safe'(usual caution required of course) except around san cristobal. The km2 site mentioned in Howells 'a bird-finding guide to mexico' is a no-go, you run a very a high risk of getting in trouble if you choose to visit here, sites off the chanal road are also supposedly potentially dangerous if you encounter the wrong people, and the trail at moxviquil has recently been closed due to robberies. This is a nature reserve! I am very glad I went for a guide around here as I was planning on visiting all these areas, despite knowing the risks of km2 at least. The political situation here is not good and will probably only get worse

Books etc

Steve Howell and Sophie Webb's 'a guide to the birds of mexico and northern central america' is the main book for the area. It is very bulky, more of a reference guide than a field guide in my opinion. Illustrations mostly good but excludes many north American migrants and a good replacement is long overdue for the area.
Howell's 'a bird-finding guide to mexico' is I guess handy to have at hand, but I didn't open it once whilst there, was published in 1999 so many sites have changed, and covers too large of any area to really describe the sites in real detail. El ocote for one is not in this book
I also took the helm 'birds of costa rica' and national geographic guide for north America
For a map I got the 2015 guia roji road atlas for mexico. The scale is too small, but was invaluable in finding a route back to san cristobal form comitan with the road shut.
For calls I used an app for costa rica bird sounds and selected calls/songs off xeno-canto
Also ebird much used

Itinerary

28/1 - departed heathrow
29/1 - arrive tuxtla Gutierrez c1pm. Tuxtla zoomat 3-4pm. Night tuxtla
30/1 - Sumidero canyon. Night Arriaga
31/1 - Arriaga foothills, Puerto Arista. Night Arriaga
1/2 - El ocote, Sumidero canyon. Night tuxtla
2/2 - El ocote, Cerrito de san cristobal and lake below. Night san cristobal
3/2 - Guided day around san cristobal. Chanal road, moxviquil gardens, cerro huitepec and cerro tzontehuitz. Night San cristobal
4/2 - reserva huitepec, chinkultic ruins, camino cinco lagos(lagunas de Montebello). Night lagunas de Montebello
5/2 - Lagunas de Montebello, chinkultic ruins. Night san cristobal
6/2 - sumidero canyon. flight home(arrive 7/2)

Sites Visited

Tuxtla Zoomat - Entrance 20 pesos. Closed Tuesdays. An afternoon hour or so around the zoo to get an introduction to Chiapas birds. It is a nice shaded zoo, themed on the animals of Chiapas. I didn't have enough time to look for enclosed animals, not really my thing anyway, but it has some nice wild birds too. Nothing rare but I saw my first russet-crowned motmots, velasquez's woodpeckers, green jays and yellow-winged caciques. Other species included my only Louisiana waterthrush and melodious blackbird of the trip, yellow-throated euphonias, streak-backed orioles and 3 other species of warbler(Nashville, magnolia and Wilson's, all common through most of the trip). Also presumably feral great curassows and plain chachalacas seen wandering the grounds

Sumidero canyon- Entrance 31.01 pesos per person. The road up is not open to vehicles til 8am, although you can enter on foot(or bike) whenever. It closes at 5, though I think this is last entry and you can stay inside longer, but never risked it. Apparently closed on tuesdays also. A very scenic area, a winding road heads up with 5 viewpoints to the right, very nice even with my fear of heights! I visited here 3 times and think anyone would do very well to see all targets in 1 visit. On my first visit I birded just through the gates til 8 then drove to straight up to the higher ground, then worked my way down in the heat of the day. Was fairly slow going as I was in 1st-day mode, confused by every sound and admiring everything seen too long, new and old! Second visit was in the afternoon and visited 2 of the better areas, Los Chiapas and El Roblar trails, was going very slow but stumbled upon ant swarms at both these so was very happy in the end! Third visit on last day I concentrated more on the lower part, walking up to km10, then visiting the above 2 trails again before packing and heading off to the airport. The site is a tourist spot so background noise was inevitable, although not as bad as feared, even on my 2 Saturday morning visits.
Entrance area
This was more scrubby than higher up so held a different set of birds. It was very birdy early on with many orioles(mostly streak-backed in various guises, some very like Altamira, either different race or hybrids?? with only a few definite altamiras noted), warblers, canivets emeralds, a red-legged honeycreeper and lesser ground-cuckoo last morning, white-throated magpie-jays, white-lored gnatcatchers, russet-crowned motmots, varied and indigo buntings...
Momotus trail
This is around km14??, there is a building to the left of the road and trails go left(momotus) and right(forgot name) from here. My main stop here was in the heat of the day so was slow, but just passed the open quarry(?) area on the momotus trail I had an imm male red-breasted chat. On return to the car I wandered slightly down the road and had another red-breasted chat(probably also imm male but much closer to adult), varied and painted bunting, ridgways swallows, a male berylline hummingbird of the green-bellied Deville's group amongst commoner species.
Km16
I visited here early afternoon so again slow, but this is 1 of the more reliable spots for belted flycatcher, of which I eventually saw 1 of 2 heard. May have been the only bird I saw here! I parked at the la coyote viewpoint and walked back down. This is also apparently 1 of the better areas for blue seedeater and blue bunting of which I saw neither, the former especially very hard when not singing
El roblar
This viewpoint has a snack shack so is very handy when in need of a cold drink! It is also very birdy. I heard belted flycatcher opposite the parking lot 1 day. The trail to the viewpoint is steep, although paved and with many steps. Just beyond the steps down from the car park is a trail to the right that is unpaved, and this was the best for birds. On my second visit I encountered an ant swarm which had red-throated ant-tanagers, a blue-and-white mockingbird and 3 fan-tailed warbler following it. Other species seen around el roblar included worm-eating warbler, ivory-billed woodcreeper, 3 yellow grosbeaks, black-headed saltator
Los Chiapas
The final viewpoint and end of the road. There is no longer a functional café here. I couldn't find the trail on my first visit, I found it on the second, if you walk between the playground and gift shack, it is straight ahead, left of a tower like structure, though not obvious at all! My first visit along the trail here was quiet until I encountered a swarm, barred antshrike, yellow-billed cacique and fan-tailed warbler with the squirrel cuckoos and and ret-throated ant-tanagers, my first ant swarm and very exciting, even with a limited number of species! On my final visit I stayed within 50 yards of the trailhead, very good for hummers with ruby-throated, azure-crowned, buff-bellied and berylline hummingbirds upstaged by the male slender sheartail that was giving brief and sporadic views

Arriaga foothills - A very enjoyable morning here. Don't think it is an area where a whole day can be spent though as it heats up and most the main birds were easy to get. This is the 'libre'(free) road that winds up from Arriaga towards the main road to tuxtla. I made 5 stops between a river on a bend just beyond an old highway that goes over the road, and a pullout on a wide left hand bend a few kms up from here. Most the pullouts are on the east side of the road and are best approached heading north, as most are on sharp bends and the road has some traffic. Rose-bellied buntings were easy, a conservative guess of 15, seen at each stop. I also saw about half that amount of orange-breasted buntings, including 1 stunning male. Both well worth the 15+ years of waiting to see! Other birds seen were 1 west Mexican chachalaca(of many heard), 4 citreoline trogons, 3 collared aracaris, and finally after giving up on it, a male long-tailed manakin appeared behind me! I had been hearing this bird but it was a long way off and thought I had no chance, but a trogon called behind me and as I looked at that I noticed the manakin behind it! On par with the buntings for beauty! Sumichrast's sparrow is also present but I forgot about it and didnt look for it!

Puerto arista area - My afternoon trip here was very hot, and even noisier! Firstly I drove down the cabeza del toro road hoping for giant wren, saw very little especially no big wren! Then I drove someway down a road immediately north of the gas station, hoping for wetland birds. Views of the mangroves and lagoons were limited, I picked up a few waders and most herons, but no real good vantage points and again very busy. On returning along this road a warbler flock mobbing a roadside hawk included 2 northern parulas and a yellow-throated warbler, and my first tropical mockingbird nearby. A brief look at the beach in Puerto arista only added 2 royal terns, so I returned to the garage at the cabeza del toro road junction, parked up, and walked slowly back and forth 3 times in the afternoon heat to the police/army property, melting away seeing very little and getting many funny looks off locals! On my third visit, walking back as the light was starting to go, I saw 3 white-bellied chachalacas, then an odd call behind me turned out to be from a giant wren! Had good views of it in the scrub south of the road near the junction before it vanished

El ocote - The turn off to this site is c15miles north of the main tuxtla-arriaga road, from the road that heads to Veracruz(145D), about an hour from tuxtla. In the small town of ocosocuautla there is unpaved ramp up to the left, take this, then head right, and then head left just before the road heads under the 145D, towards Armando zebadea. I reset my odometer here. The main target here was the very localized nava's wren. They were hard to see, but eventually had 2 good sightings over my 2 trips, and heard c5 more, between 0.8 and 1.7km is where I recorded them. I only heard the call note so learn this before visiting. The first 3.5km of this road are very good before you reach the small town. Most stuff was in flocks, so long quiet spells were followed by periods of frustratioin where i could here many, many birds, but only got a glimpse of something that usually that was too brief to be identified! But patience paid off and saw over my 2 trips many yellow-winged tanagers, 2 crimson-collared tanagers, 5+ white-winged tanagers, keel-billed toucans, slate-colored solitaire, barred antshrike, buff-throated and black-headed saltators, yellow-billed cacique, blue-diademed motmot, green and brown jays and several warbler species. I didn't do so well for hummers here, 1 azure-crowned and 2 stripe-throated hermits being the only 1s that didn't just flash past!

San cristobal - In parts a nice city, up in the mountains about an hour east of tuxtla. The suburbs were very rough looking and as mentioned earlier the surrounding areas can be very unsafe to bird. If wanting to visit here look very carefully into the current situation, what you want to see, where you can go and if you feel it is worth the risk. My idea of doing it solo without a guide could have gone very wrong, at best not see a fraction of what I did, and at worse...who knows! Don't think the local tribes would really want to kill someone, but many don't like people on their land and violent robberies are far from unheard of, and being in the wrong place at the wrong time could end very very badly. Thankfully I got hold of Francesca Albini at the last minute, and she took me to some very good spots seeing many good birds! I don't know where exactly she took me so probably cant give enough information for anyone wishing to do it solo. FWIW, my plan before contacting her was to leave everything at hotel, just take binoculars, water and passport, and an amount of money I wouldn't have minded getting robbed that much that would make the robbers happy enough to let me leave unscathed if that situation arose.
Chanal road
We spent the morning along here, making 4 stops. The first was in an area near panteon, in patchy woodland and scrub north of the road near some power lines. Star of the show was undoubtably the pink-headed warbler that gave good close prolonged views. A must see bird! Other stuff around here included white-eared, magnificent and amethyst-throated hummingbirds, the latter took ages to get a good look at the gorget, but well worth it! Also an elegant euphonia, hooded grosbeaks, brown-backed solitaire, mountain trogon, rufous-browed wren, grey silky-flycatcher, crescent-chested and golden-browed warblers and Guatemalan flickers. Next was by a school further along the road for siskins, black-headed seen immediately but we didn't linger. Don't know where the other 2 stops were, the 3rd we saw nothing, and at the 4th we saw 4 plain siskins. This poorly understood bird is bizarrely lumped with pine siskin, it is nothing like it! Of the 3 birds we saw well, 2 were like the illustration in Howell in webb, the 3rd was plain grey below, with brighter wings, a pink bill and a dusky cap. My guess is a male with 2 females but apparently no-one really knows (the fourth only noted in flight). The road is meant to be unsafe further along and the side roads that head off into the forest go into communities that are often not open to outsiders in their land, even if you offer to pay them.
Moxviquil - we visited here at lunchtime. the plan was to hit the trail for golden-cheeked warbler(this is the best spot but possible at all oak woods around san cristobal?). On arrival we were told the trail was closed due to recent robberies so had to stay around the gardens. Cinnamon-bellied flowerpiercer is reliable here and we quickly saw 3, not much else around, tufted flycatcher, white-naped brushfinch and magnificent hummingbird the only other birds I remember
Cerro huitepec - we went up the microwave towers side. On the first bend up a flock of swallows included c10 black-capped. Further up we heard a flock that included painted whitestart and a female hepatic tanager, female flowerpiercer plus another small group of hooded grosbeaks. Then we parked further up and walked a steep(er) road for garnet-throated hummingbird, of which we saw 2, but not very close. Also amethyst-throated hummingbird seen here
Cerro tzontehuitz - We finished the day off here. The road up was steep and unpaved but no need for 4x4. It was foggy/low cloud so visibility was not good. 3 highland guans were displaying, 1 close but the visibility meant we had no chance. As it got darker Francesca tried for owls. First 1 she tried was unspotted saw-whet. Almost immediately 1 replied, and after a while we located it, got very good views and left it be. Further back down the road we tried for bearded screech owl. We heard 2/3, 1 very close for ages, the only time we got on it though it flew! Also several Mexican whip-poor-wills calling but I never got a visual, the same earlier for singing quail. Francesca noted new felled areas since her last visit, like the visit before, so was not very optimistic on the future of this good site, as with most sites of the area.
Reserva huitepec - The reserve doesn't open til 9/9:30 am, but can be accessed before then by jumping over the fence left of the gates, the guy didn't seem bothered when I paid him on my way out( I paid 100 pesos but think its 50). I found birding here hard by myself, I encountered several flocks but viewing them was hard, activity died down around 8:30 also. I eventually found a blue-throated motmot, I saw this by heading up the first flight of steps, following the main trail til the end of a grey brick wall, taking a left and then taking a right. Pure luck as they weren't calling. Of the few other birds seen here were mountain trogon, golden-browed and crescent-chested warblers, amethyst- and garnet-throated hummingbirds, but views of these were not as good as the previous day. Apparently they no longer do owl tours here due to disturbance.

Chinkultic - These mayan ruins between comitan and lagunas de Montebello are very birdy and quite interesting ruins, as old bricks go! It is set in a very scenic area and was maybe my favourite site of the trip. I spent 2 1.5 hour stints here early/mid afternoon, I could have spent the best part of the day easily if I didn't have to move on. Best bird was the female slender sheartail halfway up the steps to the main temple sheltering from a shower, good prolonged views. Azure-crowned and ruby-throated hummers were more numerous, migrant warblers were everywhere, black-headed siskins flying about, 2 grey silky-flycatchers briefly... there was something to look at the whole time. No entry fee

Lagunas de Montebello - This national park near the Guatemalan border consists of lakes with steep rocky and pine covered walls, although unfortunately most of the cloud forest has gone. Entry is 30 pesos for the park, and 25 pesos to access the roads to the lakes(1 ticket covered all roads). I was told that the first km of the cinco lagos road is 1 of the best spots for birding, including the 3 special jays of the area(unicolored, black-throated and azure-hooded). I spent about 8 hours along here over an evening and morning and only saw 2 fairly distant unicolored's! The other 2 are meant to be fairly easy, but I just didn't run into them! Almost continuous rain didn't help I think. I did see a female green-throated mountain-gem on this stretch, plus emerald toucanet, yellowish flycatcher, black-headed nightingale-thrush and yellow-backed orioles, and heard a highland guan on my evening visit. Despite not seeing a great deal I reckon this site deserves 2 days at least. My guide said that quetzals still just hang on here

Sites not visited

Volcan tacana - Located in the far south-east of the state, on the border with Guatemala, north-east of tapachula. Union Juarez is the best base for the Mexican side. A safer option for pink-headed warbler, with other species including rufous sabrewing, blue-tailed hummingbird and blue-naped chlorophonia possible. There are reports on ebird of azure-rumped tanager lower down. I was considering visiting here for a while, but it would have required the best part of a days drive to and from there, too much time to lose in a short trip, plus all species are possible in Guatemala, hopefully a future trip for me

Tapalapa - Another area of cloud forest, north of Tuxtla. Didn't look too much into it, looks like it would be a long drive and no idea on accommodation. Quetzal, wine-throated hummingbird, mountain elaenia, black-throated jay amongst possibilities

El triunfo - Sounds like an amazing area, home of horned guan, azure-rumped tanager, wine-throated hummingbird, fulvous owl and quetzal amongst many others that have lost there habitat elsewhere. Couldn't find any info on how to arrange access and would require at least 5 days I think. You have to hike several km in and stay on site



Trip list to follow
 
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DMW

Well-known member
Great report with lots of useful, detailed information. Thanks for taking the time to post this.
 

jwreeves

Well-known member
Great report with lots of useful, detailed information. Thanks for taking the time to post this.

Thankyou! I found it much harder to find out detailed information for this trip than my few previous trips and tried to put as much in to help others thinking of visiting in the future. Most independent trip reports I found were from the mid 00's, and the big tour groups rarely go into too much detail!
 

jwreeves

Well-known member
Trip list part 1

In order of appearance in Howell & Webb

Brown pelican - Puerto arista and sumidero
Neotropic cormorant - Puerto arista and chinkultic
Anhinga - Puerto arista
Magnificent frigatebird - Puerto arista
Great blue heron - Puerto arista and san cristobal
Great egret - Puerto arista, chinkultic and Montebello. Few elsewhere
Snowy egret - Puerto arista and montebello
Little blue heron - 1 Puerto arista
Tricolored heron - c5 Puerto arista
Reddish egret - c5 Puerto arista
Cattle egret - thinly throughout
Yellow-crowned night-heron - 1 imm Puerto arista
White ibis - c5 Puerto arista
Wood stork - Puerto arista and chinkultic
Shoveller - 1 Puerto arista
American black vulture - common
Turkey vulture - common
Osprey - Puerto arista and chinkultic. With exception of the vultures and kestrel, this trip was very poor for raptors
White-tailed kite - 1 between tuxtla and Arriaga, 1 chinkultic
Cooper's hawk - 1 sumidero.
Grey hawk - 1 Puerto arista
Roadside hawk - 2 Puerto arista
Short-tailed hawk - 1 dark phase Puerto arista
Red-tailed hawk - 1 Arriaga
Crested caracara - fairly common Puerto arista
Laughing falcon - 1 Puerto arista
American kestrel - common in grassy areas, especially near chinkultic
Plain chachalaca - Lower sumidero canyon, Montebello
West Mexican chachalaca - 1 seen Arriaga
White-bellied chachalaca - 3 Puerto arista area, in 1st garden on left towards cabeza del toro
American coot - san cristobal and Montebello
Black-necked stilt - Puerto arista
American avocet - ''
Northern jacana - ''
Lesser yellowlegs - ''
Western willet - ''
Spotted sandpiper - ''
Western sandpiper - ''
Caspian tern - 1 Puerto arista
Royal tern - 2 Puerto arista beach
Red-billed pigeon - a few throughout
White-winged dove - only a few near tuxtla
Inca dove - most widespread dove
Common ground-dove - c10 Puerto arista
Ruddy ground-dove - 2 Puerto arista
White-tipped dove - tuxtla zoo, Arriaga
Orange-fronted parakeet - Arriaga, Puerto arista
White-fronted parrot- downtown Tuxtla. Only parrot identified with certainty
Squirrel cuckoo - a few widely scattered, most sightings sumidero
Lesser ground-cuckoo - 1 sumidero just down road from 1st viewpoint
Lesser roadrunner - 1 near Tzimol(near comitan) relieved some of the stress from the big detour!
Groove-billed ani - common Puerto arista
Bearded screech-owl - 1 glimpsed cerro tzontehuitz. 1/2 more heard
Unspotted saw-whet owl - 1 seen well cerro tzontehuitz. possibly another heard
Lesser nighthawk - Arriaga, Puerto arista, san cristobal
White-collared swift - hundreds Arriaga
Vaux's swift - just a couple seen between airport and tuxtla first day
Stripe-throated hermit - 2 el ocote
Canivet's emerald - 1 1st visit and 3 3rd visit lower sumidero, km6-9
White-eared hummingbird - several sightings around san cristobal eg chanal road. Also 1 Montebello
Azure-crowned hummingbird - el ocote, san cristobal, Montebello, chinkultic and sumidero(los Chiapas)
Berylline Hummingbird(Deville's) - sumidero (road by momotus, los Chiapas)
Buff-bellied hummingbird - Sumidero (ckm10, los Chiapas)
Cinnamon hummingbird - 3 Puerto arista
Green-throated mountain-gem - 1f cinco lagos road(Montebello)
Amethyst-throated hummingbird - common forests around san cristobal eg chanal road, cerro huitepec
Garnet-throated hummingbird - cerro huitepec
Magnificent Hummingbird - a few around san cristobal
Slender sheartail - female chinkultic, male los Chiapas(sumidero)
Ruby-throated hummingbird - Los Chiapas and chinkultic
Citreoline trogon - 4 Arriaga
Gartered trogon - 1 el ocote
Collared trogon - el roblar(sumidero), Montebello
Mountain trogon - chanal road, reserve huitepec
Blue-throated motmot - 1 reserve huitepec
Russet-crowned motmot - sev tuxtla zoo and lower sumidero
Blue-diademed motmot - 1 el ocote
Ringed kingfisher - 1 Puerto arista
Emerald toucanet - 1 montebello
Collared aracari - 3 Arriaga
Keel-billed toucan - sev sightings el ocote
Acorn woodpecker - 2 cerro huitepec
Velasquez's woodpecker - seen tuxtla zoo, sumidero, Arriaga, Puerto arista
Yellow-bellied sapsucker - 1 chanal road
Hairy woodpecker - 1+ Montebello. cinnamon bellied birds
Golden-olive woodpecker - 1 el ocote
Guatemalan[northern] flicker - couple chanal road
Plain xenops - 2 el ocote
Olivaceous woodcreeper - el ocote, Montebello
Ivory-billed woodcreeper - el roblar and los Chiapas(sumidero), el ocote
Spot-crowned woodcreeper - reserve huitepec, Montebello
Barred antshrike - 2m el ocote, 1f los Chiapas sumidero
Northern beardless-tyrannulet - only 1 seen Arriaga
Yellow-olive flycatcher - tuxtla zoo, el roblar sumidero
Belted flycatcher - 1 seen km16 sumidero, also heard there opposite el roblar car park and los Chiapas trail
Northern tufted flycatcher - 1 moxviquil, 1 cerro huitepec
Greater pewee - 1 san cristobal lake, 1 cerro huitepec
Least flycatcher - Arriaga, sumidero, chinkultic
Hammond's flycatcher - 1 moxviquil
Yellowish flycatcher - 1 Montebello
Vermilion flycatcher - 1 chinkultic
Dusky-capped flycatcher - Just 1 seen upper sumidero. Not a great fan of myriachus flycatchers!
Ash-throated flycatcher - 2+ lower sumidero
Great crested flycatcher - 1 momotus sumidero
Brown-crested flycatcher - sev sumidero. Most myriachus seen elsewhere not looked at hard enough
Great kiskadee - Only seen around Arriaga and Puerto arista
Boat-billed flycatcher - only seen upper sumidero
Social flycatcher - a few scattered about eg sumidero, chinkultic
Tropical kingbird - common
Couch's Kingbird - 1 calling bird with 2 presumed others lower sumidero
Western kingbird - 1 near Arriaga
Scissor-tailed flycatcher - 1 group between tuxtla and Arriaga, common Puerto arista
Rose-throated becard - 1f chanal road, 2+ Montebello
Masked tityra - Arriaga
Long-tailed manakin - 1m Arriaga, in first set of bends north of a small ranch beyond my starting point mentioned earlier
Mangrove swallow - 2+ Puerto arista
Violet-green swallow -seemed the common swallow around san cristobal and comitan
Black-capped swallow - c10 cerro huitepec
Northern rough-winged swallow - only a few identified in lowlands usually whilst driving
Ridgway's [northern-rough-winged] swallow- good looks at sumidero(entrance-momotus). Slight differences from NRWS, can see why IOC have re-lumped!
Barn swallow- 2 airport on landing
Steller's jay(short-crested) - Several chanal road, cerro huitepec, heard montebelo. Quite different from birds seen in the USA
White-throated magpie-jay - lower sumidero and Arriaga
Green jay - common tuxtla zoo, sev seen sumidero, also el ocote

Second half to follow when time
 
Last edited:

jwreeves

Well-known member
Trip list part 2

Brown jay - 2 el ocote
Unicolored Jay - 2 Montebello
Bushtit(black-eared) - san cristobal
Band-backed wren - chanal road and Montebello
Giant wren - 1 just east of main Puerto arista/cabeza del toro junction
Nava's wren - 2 el ocote (+more heard)
Spot-breasted wren - el roblar sumidero, el ocote, Montebello
Banded wren - sumidero, Arriaga
Plain wren - el ocote, los Chiapas sumidero
Southern house wren - el ocote, san cristobal, Montebello
Rufous-browed wren - chanal road
White-breasted wood-wren - el ocote
Blue-grey gnatcatcher - tuxtla zoo, sumidero, Arriaga
White-lored gnatcatcher - Arriaga, lower sumidero
Eastern bluebird(azure) - chanal road, chinkultic area
Brown-backed solitaire - seen chanal road and reserve huitepec
Slate-colored solitaire - 1 seen briefly el ocote
Orange-billed nightingale-thrush - el roblar and los Chiapas sumidero
Black-headed nightingale-thrush - Montebello
Swainson's thrush - 1 el roblar
Hermit thrush - 1 moxviquil, 1 reserve huitpec
Wood thrush - el roblar, san cristobal and chinkultic
Clay-colored thrush - widespread but only small numbers seen
Rufous-collared thrush - chanal road, cerro tzontehuitz, san cristobal-comitan road
Grey catbird - sev seen throughout
Blue-and-white mockingbird - 1 seen 2 dates el roblar, 2 cinco lagos road Montebello
Tropical mockingbird - Puerto arista, san cristobal, chinkultic
Grey silky-flycatcher - chanal road, cerro huitepec, chinkultic, comitan - Montebello road
White-eyed vireo - a few sumidero
Blue-headed vireo - a few throughout
Hutton's vireo(Stephenson's) - regularly seen san cristobal sites
Warbling vireo - Arriaga, sumidero, san cristobal
Rufous-browed peppershrike - 2 chanal road
Blue-winged warbler - single males at el roblar and el ocote
Tennessee warbler - Arriaga, sumidero, el ocote, chinkultic
Nashville warbler - Arriaga, sumidero, san cristobal, chinkultic. common
Crescent-chested warbler - chanal road and cerro huitepec
Northern parula - 2 Puerto arista in good warbler flock mobbing roadside hawk
Tropical parula - 1 el ocote
Yellow warbler - Arriaga, Puerto arista
Magnolia warbler - common most sites
Audubon's[yellow-rumped] warbler - a few cerro huitepec
Townsends warbler- common san cristobal, chinkultic
Hermit warbler - a handful san cristobal
Black-throated green warbler - sumidero, el ocote, Montebello
Yellow-throated warbler - 1 Puerto arista
Black-and-white warbler - throughout
American redstart - Puerto arista, el ocote
Worm-eating warbler - 1 each el roblar, los Chiapas and reserve huitepec
Ovenbird - several chinkultic, odd birds throughout
Northern waterthrush - 2 Puerto arista, 1 chinkultic
Louisiana waterthrush - 1 tuxtla zoo with the crocodiles
Macgillivray's warbler - lower sumidero, chanal road, chinkultic, Montebello
Common yellowthroat - single males Puerto arista and chinkultic
Grey-crowned yellowthroat - 1 lower sumidero
Wilson's warbler - common throughout
Pink-headed warbler - 1 chanal road
Painted whitestart - 1 cerro huitepec
Slate-throated whitestart - chanal road, cerro huitepec, Montebello. Red-bellied birds much better looking than birds seen in costa rica!
Fan-tailed warbler - 1 los Chiapas and 3 el roblar sumidero
Golden-crowned warbler - el ocote and Montebello
Rufous-capped warbler(rufous-capped) - el roblar, el ocote, Montebello. all seen well white-bellied races
Golden-browed warbler - chanal road, cerro huitepec
Yellow-breasted chat - 2 chinkultic. 1 seen well was of the western race
Red-breasted chat - 2 sumidero near momotus trail
Olive warbler - chanal road, cerro huitepec
Bananaquit - 1 el ocote
Golden-hooded tanager - 1+ el ocote
Red-legged honeycreeper - 1 winter/imm male sumidero near 1st viewpoint
Scrub euphonia - Arriaga and Puerto arista
Yellow-throated euphonia - sumidero, el ocote
Elegant euphonia - 1 singing male chanal road
Blue-grey tanager - 1+ el ocote
Yellow-winged tanager - several el ocote
Red-throated ant-tanager - upper sumidero and el ocote
Hepatic tanager - 1f cerro huitpec, pair Montebello
Summer tanager - very few seen. Puerto arista, el ocote, moxviquil
Western tanager - seen elsewhere but especially numerous sumidero
White-winged tanager - 5+ el ocote including at least 2 full adult males
Crimson-collared tanager - 2 el ocote ckm0.6
Common chlorospingus - san cristobal, Montebello
Greyish saltator - Puerto arista and chinkultic
Buff-throated saltator - 2 el ocote
Black-headed saltator - el roblar and el ocote
Black-faced grosbeak - el ocote
Yellow grosbeak(golden) - 3+ el roblar inc 1+ male. Surprised of the size of these! Far larger than expected!
Rose-breasted grosbeak - most sites
Rose-bellied bunting - 15+ Arriaga
Indigo bunting - Puerto arista and lower sumidero
Varied bunting - sumidero (momotus and lower)
Orange-breasted bunting - <10 Arriaga
Painted butnting - 1f momotus
White-naped brushfinch(white-naped) - 2 moxviquil. Very different from bird seen in costa rica!
Chestnut-capped brushfinch - 1 reserve huitepec
Olive sparrow - several sumidero
Spotted towhee - chanal road, moxviquil. Black backed with thick rufous streaks
White-collared seedeater - el ocote and lower sumidero
Yellow-faced grassquit - el ocote and chanal road
Cinnamon-bellied flowerpiercer - 3 moxviquil, 1 cerro huitepec
Stripe-headed sparrow - Arriaga, Puerto arista
Rusty sparrow - 2 el ocote, 1 sumidero
Lincoln's sparrow - 2 chinkultic
Rufous-collared sparrow - several in and around san cristobal
Yellow-eyed Junco(Chiapas) - chanal road
Red-winged blackbird - 1 chinkultic
Melodious blackbird - only tuxtla zoo
Great-tailed grackle - common
Bronzed cowbird -c200 san cristobal lake to roost
Black-cowled oriole - 1/2 el ocote
Orchard oriole - Puerto arista
Yellow-backed oriole - c5 Montebello
Streak-backed oriole - common lower sumidero, Arriaga, Puerto arista. Many appeared similar to illustration of Guatemalan birds in Howell & webb
Altamira oriole - a few lower sumidero and Arriaga. Easily confused with streak-backed
Baltimore oriole - throughout in small numbers
Yellow-billed cacique - 1 el ocote and 1 los Chiapas trail
Yellow-winged cacique - tuxtla zoo, Arriaga, Puerto arista
Montezuma oropendola - <5 el ocote
Common crossbill - chanal road
Plain[pine] siskin - 4 chanal road
Black-headed siskin - chanal road, chinkultic
Lesser goldfinch - very few seen, Puerto arista, chanal road
Hooded grosbeak - small groups chanal road and cerro huitepec
House sparrow - towns

Heard only
Slaty-breasted tinamou(Montebello), Highland guan(cerro tzontehuitz, Montebello), Singing quail(cerro tzontehuitz), Mexican whip-poor-will(cerro tzontehuitz), grey-breasted wood-wren(cerro tzontehuitz)

Other animals
Very few! iguana's Puerto arista, 2 collared peccary el roblar, white-nosed coati sumidero, roadkill grey fox Arriaga and many dead dogs near comitan. Many butterflies including a blue morpho at sumidero canyon

Southern Chiapas, without its political tension, habitat destruction and security issues, could have been a must do trip for many birders. There are still very good birds to be had and sites to bird, a slightly longer visit with more luck and an extra site perhaps added could produce a substantially larger trip list than mine, and it can be easily added to an itinerary to other areas of eastern Mexico. I did enjoy the majority of my time birding, even if it was mainly from roadsides, although it is certainly not a place I would like revisit in the future. If anyone does want to visit here, I would look at going sooner rather than later due to continued habitat destruction, especially around san cristobal, and check for any safety issues of the time. I visited in Jan/Feb partly due to another holiday in march, and partly for the wintering American migrants, although the area can be good, perhaps better, further into spring when local breeders are singing and easier to locate.

John
 

lewis20126

Well-known member
"The km2 site mentioned in Howells 'a bird-finding guide to mexico' is a no-go, you run a very a high risk of getting in trouble if you choose to visit here, sites off the chanal road are also supposedly potentially dangerous if you encounter the wrong people, and the trail at moxviquil has recently been closed due to robberies. This is a nature reserve! I am very glad I went for a guide around here as I was planning on visiting all these areas, despite knowing the risks of km2 at least. The political situation here is not good and will probably only get worse"

Yes, under no circumstances visit Km 2, we were robbed at machete point (1 camera) in Spring 2014 at that site.

cheers, alan
 

Hamhed

Well-known member
You guys who visited these areas are hard core birders, in my mind. I like my birding to be a bit more relaxing. Years ago, my wife and I did the Yucatan twice and enjoyed it very much but, sadly, the rest of Mexico can wait.

Steve
 

jwreeves

Well-known member
"The km2 site mentioned in Howells 'a bird-finding guide to mexico' is a no-go, you run a very a high risk of getting in trouble if you choose to visit here, sites off the chanal road are also supposedly potentially dangerous if you encounter the wrong people, and the trail at moxviquil has recently been closed due to robberies. This is a nature reserve! I am very glad I went for a guide around here as I was planning on visiting all these areas, despite knowing the risks of km2 at least. The political situation here is not good and will probably only get worse"

Yes, under no circumstances visit Km 2, we were robbed at machete point (1 camera) in Spring 2014 at that site.

cheers, alan

Thankyou for highlighting this Alan, in spite of knowing of this and vaguely other incidents, due to not being able to contact any guides and local tour operators I was going to risk it at dawn. Thankfully 2 weeks before I went I realised the problem and got hold of Francesca 2 days before she went away working. It was only when passing there I realised what a totally stupid idea this was. Francesca was telling me of several incidents that have happened in the area, I was kind of drifting away thinking of worst case scenarios but heard her mention they have at least threatened to take hostages. It's a side of the world I hadn't seen before and was naive to how real the danger was. No matter how strong the temptation under no circumstances visit this site! Apparently they have walky talkies and loads of them turn up and surround visitors, block roads etc...

Also many thanks to yourself and dcw for taking the time to reply to my RFI and messages
 

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