Wednesday, January 19, 2011

wet birds

Tuesday morning was going to be my birding morning.

I say "was going" because I did not get a very good start.

My plan was to get up at 6 (before our sun rises), have some cereal, and head out to the country to watch the birds start their morning routines.  Such was the plan.

And I was up at 6 -- to discover for the second day in a row the temperature was about 50.

Now, I am the guy who kept his house in Oregon at 55 degrees during the winter.  But, 50 in Melaque is just too cool to be up and about.  So, I wasn't.

Eventually, the truck and I were on our way.  I have birds in my Melaque back yard.  But there are some wetlands around here that are almost avian micro systems.  And I was headed to one.

Because I was already too late to catch the early bird special, I decided to take a little detour.

When I was discussing whether or not to buy a GPS for my Mexico trips, a message board colleague suggested a GPS was a hindrance to adventure.  Getting lost is part of the fun of touring Mexico.  You get to see things you never knew existed.  After all, it was a business model that suited the Spanish invaders well.

Now that I have my GPS, I get a kick out of watching the display show the truck heading off into uncharted hills.

And, as you know, for the past month, I have been been looking for little roads that seem to lead to nowhere. 

That is what I did today.  Dirt track road.  One lane.  Looking as if it was not regularly traveled.

If you are waiting for the revelation that I found the best site in Mexico, you will have a long wait.   What I found were cattle on the road, the ranches from whence they came, several small coconut plantations -- and quiet.

No sounds of machinery.  Just the wind in the fronds.  And bird song -- nearby, in the middle distance, and echoing from the far end of narrow valleys.  Simple beauty.

But the bird song reminded me I was on my way to watch birds in action -- not just in concert.

I have come to really appreciate marsh birds.  They are the monarchs of predators.  Especially, the herons and egrets.

Anyone who thrills at lions bringing down zebra should adore these birds.  Their patience, stalking technique, and striking speed make cats look like arrivistes.

But they were simply the stars.  With a supporting cast of ducks, coots, kingfishers, flycatchers, vireos, and snake birds.  Along with several species I could not begin to identify.

Some of these birds are just spending the summer.  I recognize almost all of them.  But most are year-round residents.  And they are new to me.

I am not much of a birder; I barely qualify as a hobbyist.  My lack of a Life List is proof enough of that.

But I do enjoying watching and attempting to identify what I see.

After about four hours of watching, I came to two conclusions.  (For those of you who say: "Yes.  You need to get a life", I guess that is what the Comments section is for.)

First, I need to purchase a good field guide to identify birds in Mexico.  I have received several good recommendations.  I will probably pick up two or three when I head north for a week in late February or so.

The second is that I need a better camera.  My Panasonic FZ35 was a big step up from my previous camera.  It takes great photographs.  But its zoom is not designed for wildlife shots. 

What I need is a DSLR with a couple of good zoom lenses.  I am certain that Gary Denness and Howard Platt will have some suggestions for me.

Until then, I will stick with my binocular and recurring trips to the internet.

The birds will not mind waiting for better equipment.  After all, they didn't even notice that I was on Mexican time this morning.

1 comment:

Kazual13 said...

...a wise man said, ''the early bird catches the worm''....oh that would be me...