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Tamaulipas, Mexico 2006

From March 10 - 13, 2006, I joined some wonderful kids and teachers from the school at Lasara (west of Raymondville in the LRGV) for a trip to Rancho del Cielo in the El Cielo Biosphere Reserve located in southwestern Tamaulipas. My thanks go to the Gorgas Science Foundation, Inc. and to Xavier Garcia for inviting me - and delivering such a smooth and fun trip!

This Reserve encompasses the northernmost Cloud Forest in the Western Hemishpere, and even though we were there during the dry season (and one of the very driest on record), it was a real treat to see this complex, intricate envirnment just 250 miles from Texas.

Scenes from Rancho del Cielo - part one.

Scenes from Rancho del Cielo - part two .

Two Military Macaws at sunrise.

A confiding Tamaulipas Pygmy-Owl next to our cabin.

A male Mountain Trogon above our cabin.

An intriguing Empidonax flycatcher - is it Hammond's?

Some Crimson-collared Grosbeaks that are at an unusually high elevation.

A variety of Tanagers - including a puzzling one...

A Nightingale-Thrush, Peppershrike, Motmot, Parrot, and Woodcreeper.

Birds of note seen bear the Research Station:

White-tailed Hawk: an adult flew over, panicking all the birds feeding in the lowquats; this bird must have wandered up from the Coastal Plain.

Military Macaw: a pair flying south past the eastern overlook was a surprise.

White-crowned Parrot: up to 20 birds seen all day in the tall trees around the "bowl"; I witnessed mating, and presume them to be breeding locally.

Tamaulipas Pygmy-Owl: at least two pairs present within earshot of the cabins.

Mottled Owl: one seen to fly into a tree hole among the cabins at dawn.

Wedge-tailed Sabrewing: at least two males "singing" from perches high above the cabins.

Magnificent Hummingbird: one female at the "bowl" flowers, plus a male "singing" over one of the cabins.

White-eared Hummingbird: one female-type in trees above cabins.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird: one male feeding on flowers in the "bowl".

Mountain Trogon: a pair on territory around the cabins, with others seen heard near the Eastern Lookout, and along the entrance road.

Blue-crowned Motmot: a pair seen about 1 km down the entrance road.

No woodpeckers seen or heard the entire trip...

Spot-crowned Woodcreeper: at least two around the "bowl"; no Ivory-billed seen.

Blue-headed Vireo: the most numerous vireo.

Warbling Vireo: three in mixed flocks around the "bowl".

Brown-capped Vireo: two loners around the "bowl".

Rufous-browed Peppershrike: one foraging and singing around the"bowl".

Spot-breasted Wren: one around the entrance road; one at the Eastern Lookout.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet: still a number around in the mixed flocks.

Brown-backed Solitaire: only heard along the lower part of the entrance road - none up at the Cabins.

Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush: one hopping on rocks on the edge of the "bowl".

Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush: one along the tail to the eastern lookout, and three along the upper entrance road.

Swainson's Thrush: one along upper entrance road.

Clay-colored Robin: common around the "bowl"; no White-throated Robins seen.

Long-billed Thrasher: I was rather surprised to see one of these working the hedge near the "bowl".

Blue Mockingbird: at least four around the cabins and the "bowl".

Gray Silky-Flycatcher: heard high in the treetops above the cabins, but not seen.

Crescent-chested Warbler: fairly common around the "bowl".

Tropical Parula: two seen around the "bowl".

Yellow, Wilson's, Townsend's, Black-throated Green, and B&W Warblers, and Painted Redstart all fairly common around the "bowl".

Golden-cheeked Warbler: a smashing male watched singing heartily right next to the cabins.

Golden Crowned and Golden-browed Warblers: one of each seen working together low in the hedge between the cabins and the "bowl".

Flame-colored Tanager: common.

Hepatic Tanager: a couple.

White-winged Tanager: one imm. male.

Yellow-throated Euphonia: one male at the Eastern Lookout.

Crimson-collared Gosbeak: a least ten working the lowquats around the "bowl" (only one adult male seen).

Rose-breasted Grosbeak: three at the Eastern Lookout.

Audubon's Oriole: abundant around the "bowl" feeding on the lowquats - at least thirty birds!

Hooded Grosbeak: three at the Eastern Overlook.