Monday, March 28, 2011

Exult My Friendships And Line Up The Bottles

Yellow-winged Tanager!

Hello birders of the world. Today is Monday, March 21, 2011. I’ve been stationed in Chavarrillo for over 3 weeks now, and things that have originally seemed very Mexican are now becoming very normal….for good or ill. The acclimation my past self had warned me of seems to be sinking in. For example, piles of garbage strewn about field, wood and stream are no longer depressing, they are just a part of my ongoing background feeling of malaise now. The gaping hole in the dungeon wall that could loosely be called a window delivers all matter of debris when the wind is up and a healthy number of mosquitoes when the wind is down. Small pieces of cement rain down upon me in my cot at all times. In response to these stimuli, I have subconsciously decided to become an overall dustier person with an acute paranoia of mosquitoes. Why not?

Overall, everything has become less intense, with the exceptions of a couple food incidents (it turns out I can’t stomach menudo, big surprise there). I’m on familiar terms with a lot of the locals and my Spanish comprehension and speaking skills have marginally improved. The big difference is the birds. There are thousands of Turkey Vultures, Swainson’s Hawks and Broad-winged Hawks moving north now in a steady push, as well as a few other new migrant species (Hook-billed Kite, American Kestrel, American White Pelican, Anhingas to name a few). Yesterday I counted over 15,600 individuals, over 10,000 of which were Swainson’s Hawks, answering The Great Call that urges them north to the United States every year. Single flocks can number thousands of birds that melt the face with some intensity.
I have still not been lucky enough to pick up any Crane Hawks or Swallow-tailed Kites, but my bird-faith is running strong. Maybe it’s a good thing…obtaining good views of either of these species could cripple me…convulsions, blindness, projectile vomiting…as it has been said before…the possibility of complete mental and physical collapse Is Very Real…

I have not been keeping track of my year list for El Año Tranquilo, but it is coming along at a steady pace….the Life Birds are more fun to follow along with at this point…this morning I was shocked to see some Grey-necked Wood-Rails scampering around some shitty, almost completely drained irrigation ponds….not a bird I expected to see anytime soon. So sick. Before that…I believe Green-breasted Mango was the last life bird…after seeing a couple of those, I don’t think things will ever be the same. After a very belated viewing of Howell and Webb (the sacred text of birders in Mexico), I have a strong suspicion that I may have recently blundered into a Black-headed Trogon as well…

That’s where things seem to lie right now. I’ve been reading The Beak Of The Finch lately (after Naked Lunch by William Burroughs, which does a good job of not making heroin addiction sound particularly appealing). The book is solid, and is stoking a new kind of interest in Dawin and evolution in general for me. Most of all, I must get to the Galapagos Islands at some point….if anyone would like to sponsor a BB&B endeavor to the islands, I’m ready to go.


  1. Glad you are still well (albeit 8 days ago) and love in an "oh, well, that's so great for him" way that frequently birds you are seeing (or hoping to see) I've never heard of. Crane hawk? Green-breasted mango? Up here, the blue birds, house finches, cedar wax wings and the usual gang have been flitting about in good numbers, and the wild turkey toms have started the Dancing Season. =)

  2. Glad to hear it BB! Sounds tranquilo. We just had a sick toucan arrive today, so things are a bit stressful around here...