OAXACA (Compass)

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Birding Site Guide

Regis Nossent & Filip Beeldens 13th December 2006 to 12th January 2007January 7: the road through the Tapanatepec foothills to Tehuantepec: Our plan to bird the area around Boca at dawn fell through cause of a flat tire. By the time we found and had fitted a spare (used at Calakmul), it was late morning. We decided to head straight for our next destination and bird the Tapanatepec foothills. We didn’t see many birds but still managed to find a few good ones including a hunting Zone-tailed Hawk, 7 more Rosita’s Buntings and 8 Orange-breasted Buntings, our target bird here. It was late afternoon when we checked into the Hotel Donaji (280 pesos for a double) in Tehuantepec. 
January 8: around Tehuantepec and further on to Puerto Angel: Saw us looking for sumichrast’s sparrow and lesser ground-cuckoo today along the Route 190 site described in Howell. It was very windy and the location isn’t what I would call picturesque (it is a dumping ground for carcasses and household garbage). We tried several spots along the road walking down the road and track into the thorn forest but only caught a glimpse of the sparrows and no sight or sound of the cuckoo. Orange-breasted Bunting is very common here though. A nice find was a single male Beautiful Hummingbird. 
We left the area in late morning and took the coast road to Puerto Angel. For those with more time on their hands: the coast road runs through some excellent thorn forest areas. If you can park by the road and walk up any of the overpasses, you could then walk along one of the farmer’s roads into the forest and probably get some good birds. A Canadian birder we had met did just that and saw 2 ground-cuckoos here. 

We made 2 stops along the coast road to bird sites not described in Howell. The first is the Colorada Laguna (signed for along the road), which is a big fishing lagoon lined by some mangroves about 1 hour drive along the coast road. The track to the lagoon and beach runs through cactus and thorn forest and was despite the hour of the day still birdy. We had 5 Rufous-backed Thrushes in the scrub near the lagoon, and saw Sumichrast’s Sparrows well here as well as a pair of Golden-cheeked Woodpeckers. There were a good number of seabirds sitting on several of the rock outcroppings in the ocean (bring a scope) and we found both Brown Booby and surprisingly at least 6 Blue-footed Boobies among them. 

Next stop was made at the Arroyo Quetzali which is a track on the left hand side of the road at about km 270. We struck gold here coming up on several mixed flocks of birds containing among others a male Citreoline Trogon, Rufous-naped Wrens, Happy Wren, Spot-breasted Orioles, a Golden Vireo, a male of the Mexican race of Northern Cardinal, and one of the star birds of the trip: a stunning male Red-breasted Chat which showed well for about 5 minutes. 

We arrived at Puerto Angel in the early evening and checked in at the Hotel Anasi (160 pesos for a double). The trees around the village centre were swarming with great-tailed grackles and yellow-winged caciques coming in for the night. A quick walk around the town and the beach front netted us several Grey-breasted Martins. 

Species seen by Regis Nossent & Filip Beeldens

  • Blue-footed Booby Sula nebouxii nebouxii
  • Brown Booby Sula leucogaster leucogaster
  • Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens
  • Grey Hawk Buteo plagiatus
  • Short-tailed Hawk Buteo brachyurus fuliginosus
  • Zone-tailed Hawk Buteo albonotatus albonotatus
  • Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis
  • Royal Tern Sterna maxima maxima
  • Plain-breasted Ground-Dove Columbina minuta interrupta
  • Orange-fronted Parakeet Aratinga canicularis
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird Archilochus colubris
  • Beautiful Hummingbird Calothorax pulcher
  • Doubleday's Hummingbird Cynanthus latirostris doubledayi
  • Citreoline Trogon Trogon citreolus
  • Golden-cheeked Woodpecker Melanerpes chrysogenys
  • Lineated Woodpecker Dryocopus lineatus
  • Ivory-billed Woodcreeper Xiphorhynchus flavigaster
  • Grey-breasted Martin Progne chalybea chalybea
  • Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum
  • Rufous-naped Wren Campylorhynchus rufinucha
  • Banded Wren Thryothorus pleurostictus
  • Happy Wren Thryothorus felix
  • Rufous-backed Thrush Turdus rufopalliatus
  • White-lored Gnatcatcher Polioptila albiloris
  • Ash-throated Flycatcher Myiarchus cinerascens
  • Brown-crested Flycatcher Myiarchus tyrannulus magister
  • White-throated Magpie-Jay Calocitta formosa
  • Golden Vireo Vireo hypochryseus
  • Red-breasted Chat Granatellus venustus
  • Lesser Goldfinch Carduelis psaltria
  • Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis saturata
  • Indigo Bunting Passerina cyanea
  • Orange-breasted Bunting Passerina leclancherii
  • Rose-bellied Bunting Passerina rositae
  • Yellow-winged Cacique Cacicus melanicterus
  • Spot-breasted Oriole Icterus pectoralis
  • Streak-backed Oriole Icterus pustulatus
  • Stripe-headed Sparrow Aimophila ruficauda
  • Cinnamon-tailed Sparrow Aimophila sumichrasti

For a full Excel species trip list please contact the authors:

Regis Nossent: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Filip

Beeldens: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Charles Hesse (23rd November, 2004)

TAPANATEPEC, or Tapana as everyone seems to call it, is a small town on the highway. It has a tiny bus station that you will get dropped at and there is a cheap place to stay called 'La Flor' which also sells cheap food. A very basic single room was just N$120 pesos. The near-threatened localized endemic Rose-bellied (or Rosita's) Bunting is found just 10km along Route 190 heading inland. I did not see any local buses which would stop but managed to hitch a ride. I went in the afternoon and did not manage to get a ride back before dark. I started to walk and finally got picked up by the police who kindly took me back to the hotel. If you are hitching, give yourself time to get back before dark or even better, visit the site in the morning. I found the Rose-bellied Buntings easily at 10 and 11km along. They responded well to Ferruginous Owl immitations. I went down to look for Long-tailed Manakin in the place mentioned in the site guide but did not find it. The birding is good in general and it is probably worth spending a morning here. 28 species including 3 lifers.


Species seen at Tapanatepec by Charles Hesse

  • Black Vulture Coragyps atratus
  • Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
  • West Mexican Chachalaca Ortalis poliocephala Endemic
  • White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica
  • Common Ground-Dove Columbina passerina
  • Inca Dove Columbina inca
  • Green Parakeet Aratinga holochlora
  • Orange-fronted Parakeet Aratinga canicularis
  • Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium
  • Cinnamon Hummingbird Amazilia rutila
  • Russet-crowned Motmot Momotus mexicanus
  • Golden-fronted Woodpecker Melanerpes aurifrons
  • Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet Camptostoma imberbe
  • Yellow-bellied Flycatcher Empidonax flaviventris
  • Least Flycatcher ? Empidonax minimus
  • Brown-crested Flycatcher Myiarchus tyrannulus
  • Western Kingbird Tyrannus verticalis
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Tyrannus forficatus
  • Banded Wren Thryothorus pleurostictus
  • Clay-colored Robin Turdus grayi
  • White-lored Gnatcatcher Polioptila albiloris
  • White-throated Magpie-Jay Calocitta formosa
  • Yellow Warbler Dendroica petechia
  • Black-and-white Warbler Mniotilta varia
  • Western Tanager Piranga ludoviciana
  • Cinnamon-tailed Sparrow Aimophila sumichrasti Endemic Near-threatened
  • Rose-bellied Bunting Passerina rositae Endemic Near-threatened
  • Orange-breasted Bunting Passerina leclancherii Endemic


Best Time for visit (12th & 13th November, 2004)

TEHUANTEPEC is a small town but has a couple of hotels and plenty of places to eat. I stayed at the Hotel Donaji, 2 blocks south of the plaza. Turn towards Oaxaca on Route 190. There are minibuses that go along here. The site for the near-threatened endemic Cinammon-tailed (Sumichrast's) Sparrow is about 7km along this road. It is difficult to see the road markers but there is a bridge over a river with a military checkpoint after it. Get off here. You may be questioned by the military even if you get off before the bridge so do not forget your passport. They warned me that there were 'bad' people around. The whole area has a lot of military. I birded a track to the left walking away from the bridge which had good birding but no sparrows. I saw these further along by the side of the road on the right. They were quite vocal in the morning and responsive to playback. I saw 35 species including 3 lifers. 

Species seen at Tehuantepec by Charles Hesse

  • Great Egret Ardea alba
  • Tricolored Heron Egretta tricolor
  • Snowy Egret Egretta thula
  • Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
  • Black Vulture Coragyps atratus
  • Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
  • Osprey Pandion haliaetus
  • Gray Hawk Asturina nitida
  • (Northern) Crested Caracara Caracara cheriway
  • West Mexican Chachalaca Ortalis poliocephala Endemic
  • Northern Jacana Jacana spinosa
  • Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus
  • Lesser Yellowlegs ? Tringa flavipes
  • Rock Dove Columba livia Introduced species
  • White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica
  • Common Ground-Dove Columbina passerina
  • Inca Dove Columbina inca
  • Lesser Ground-Cuckoo Morococcyx erythropygus
  • Golden-fronted Woodpecker Melanerpes aurifrons
  • Ash-throated Flycatcher Myiarchus cinerascens
  • Western Kingbird Tyrannus verticalis
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Tyrannus forficatus
  • Gray-breasted Martin Progne chalybea
  • Barn Swallow ? Hirundo rustica
  • Rufous-naped Wren Campylorhynchus rufinucha
  • White-lored Gnatcatcher Polioptila albiloris
  • White-throated Magpie-Jay Calocitta formosa
  • Common Raven Corvus corax
  • Yellow Warbler Dendroica petechia
  • Townsend's Warbler ? Dendroica townsendi
  • Cinnamon-tailed Sparrow Aimophila sumichrasti Endemic Near-threatened
  • Blue Grosbeak Passerina caerulea
  • Orange-breasted Bunting Passerina leclancherii Endemic
  • Great-tailed Grackle Quiscalus mexicanus
  • Altamira Oriole Icterus gularis


Authors: Charles Hesse. Regis Nossent & Filip Beeldens