Sunday, February 06, 2011

plants of a feather

Los Jardines Botánicos de Puerto Vallarta
  (The Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens).

I cannot remember when I first saw the sign at the top of one of the hills leading south from Puerto Vallarta.  But I know I have driven past it at least a dozen times promising myself: "Next time I will stop."

Well, "next time" finally got here.  On my drive north, I decided this is it.

Two things tipped me over the edge.  The first was Debi.  She told me one of the reasons she and Tom come to Puerto Vallarta is to visit the gardens.  That made me curious enough to stop.

But there was also a second promoter of the gardens.  My bird pal: Howard Platt.

When my "hobby of the month" obsession settled on photographing birds, Howard told me I could save a lot of money by looking at his on-line photographs

He was correct.  He has some great shots -- including birds photographed at the Botanical Gardens.

When the Escape and I crested the hill on Wednesday, I pulled into the parking lot, grabbed my camera and binoculars, and I was off -- to do my best John James Audubon impression.  Without the flintlock.

I must offer one confession, though.  I am not an avid gardener.

I can appreciate the beauty of of a well-planned and better-maintained landscape.  But I do not go all weak-jointed over a well-turned stem as did some of my fellow visitors.  There must be a pornography level in every hobby.

But I do like birds.  And this is the time of year to find birds in Mexico.  The migrators are still here.

I did make a large timing error, though.  I arrived at the park around noon.  That is too late in the day for most birds.

But not all of them.  I saw several species I had not seen before -- and some I could not identify.  There were two warblers in the bush that I could have identified only in the hand.  They were simply too hyperactive and obscured to draw an identification bead on them.

The best viewing were two feeders near the garden restaurant,  That approach is a bit like attracting dolphins by smearing a three year old with mackerel oil.

However, without the chumming, I would not have had any of these photographs to share with you.  (I would have had more if I had turned off the auto focus on my camera.)

This is a yellow-winged cacique.  They are everywhere in the garden.  When you cannot see them, you can hear them.  They were the sole species at this feeder.

But they had competition from this tough little guy.  A yellow-cheeked woodpecker.  His mate was just below him on the same limb, but in the dark.

And he would put up with no competition when it came to food.  Even though the caciques were quite a bit larger, he would drive them away.  Until they used their numbers to overwhelm the feeder.  This shot was taken just as the tide of battle was changing.  The thrush and his mate could only look on.

If I ever figure out how to get better photographs with the camera I have, I just might invest in some better equipment.  That will make these nature stops a little more pleasant for all of us.


Marc said...

I remember seeing the signs for the garden on a visit to PV some time back, but never made the time to stop. Looks like a nice spot, worth a visit.

Steve Cotton said...

Be sure to take your camera, binocyulars, -- and bug spray. It is a thing of beauty. And the biting insects think it is paradise.

Stephen Staley said...

Actually your photographs are very nice, don't know what your using for a camera but I believe it's more about the subject than the equipment. Easy for me to say, I just sortof inherited a new Nikon D-90, read one of Howards posts where he talked about the D-90 and have always wanted one. Now about 18 months from having all the time in the world to figure out how to use it well. Anyway your photos are always greatly enjoyed, as are your recanted adventures.

Steve Cotton said...

I use a Panasonic FZ35 -- a nice bridge camera between a DSLR and a point and shoot. But its zoom capabilty (a respectable 18X) is not enough to work well with nature shots. And I need to learn to turn off my auto focus in the woods. Almost all of my subjects were blurred because the camera was focusing on a twig or branch closer to he camera. I now have a great collection of ghost birds.

teresa freeburn said...

the pictures are beautiful but i especially love the one of the cacique.

having lunch with cynthia and mike today.

looking forward to more posts on your travels. is patzcuaro next? i would love to do a trip where i can hit patz. gto and san miguel. i have no idea how far patz. is from the other 2.

have a great day!


Steve Cotton said...

Thanks, Teresa. Say hello to Mike and Cynthia fior me.

I am not certain what the drive times are. Felipe told me, but I forgot. I know it is close by.

Felipe Zapata said...

Boy, I wish I had known about this when I was in PV recently. Probably never be back in that neck of the woods again. Dang.

sparks said...

Guess it's time to visit. We stopped in when they first opened and the grounds were almost bare

ANM said...

That last shot of the feeder looks like a House Finance Committee meeting, as the members divide up the spoils.