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You Can Call Me Owl

MEXICO | Monday, 16 August 2021 | Views [136]

Whiskered Screech Owl, Finca de Felix

Whiskered Screech Owl, Finca de Felix

THE ARCHEOLOGICAL SITE AT TENAM PUENTE is only twenty minutes from City Express Hotel and sunrise isn’t until 7:30 so we were able to sleep in and enjoy the included breakfast. Eric usually finds Slender Sheartail Hummingbirds and Belted Flycatchers at the site but Tenam Puente is closed due to Covid. So we settled for birding around the perimeter—us and several million mosquitos. 


        Belted Flycatcher

Belted Flycatchers are shy and like to hide in the understory so I was pleasantly surprised when one perched obligingly on a branch in the sunshine. Not so the Slender Sheartail. One perched teasingly for a second but zoomed off before I could even lift my camera. Another gave us a good look but vanished before I could focus and shoot. Can’t win ‘em all, but we did get photos of a Black-headed Siskin and an Azure-crowned Hummingbird before the mozzies and boredom made retreat seem like a good option.


  Black-headed Siskin


                                       Azure-crowned Hummingbird

We took advantage of the 1 PM check-out, grabbed a tuna sandwich from Subway and set off for San Cristobal de las Casas, two hours away. The main drag is pretty shabby but I wish we were staying longer than one night at Hotel Arrecife de Coral in the 16th Century historic district. The rooms are nice, wifi is good and there is a restaurant and a much-needed self-service laundry.


                Hotel Arrecife de Coral

Our real reason for staying in San Cristobal is owls—Bearded Screech Owls, Whiskered Screech Owls and Unspotted Saw-whet Owls. Eric’s friend Felix owns a small finca out of town and has studied the owls that live there. While we stood under dripping trees as the moon dipped in and out of clouds we learned some owl lore. Surprisingly—to me at least—big owls prey on smaller owls. When calling owls at night, so as not to scare off the other species, you begin with the little guys. 


                    Bearded Screech Owl

With Felix’s beta of the area and Eric’s super-hero hearing, the first owl we spotted was the Bearded Screech Owl, the smallest at only six inches. The slightly larger Unspotted Saw-whet Owl, so named because of its solid-color plumage, was heard but remains “un-spotted” by us. Just as we were ready to call it a night, Felix heard the Whiskered Screech Owl’s “hoothoot.” After I fine-tuned some camera settings for the spotlights, it turned out to be the best photo of the night.


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