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CERRO LA BUFA March 04, 2021

The mountains above San Sebastian del Oeste (1.5 hr east of PV) are a haven for a diverse mix of species. Close to town the habitat is lush and the roadside birding made our progress oh so slow-a welcome dilemma. One of the first flower banks had several male Bumblebee Hummingbirds displaying at close range, utterly unaware of human admirers. A side two track called my name, as they often do, and we entered a humid, north facing forest. Patience (and persistence) rewarded us with several looks at the always skulking Green-striped Brushfinch, it's white throat standing out in the dark understory where it lives. An Amethyst-throated Mountain Gem had a territory set up that it was determined to defend.

Back on the main road, we ascended into forest that could almost be described as cloud forest. In quick succession, we encountered Smoky-brown Woodpecker, and Ivory-billed and Olivaceous Woodcreepers. Somewhat surprising was a Bright-rumped Attila calling from across the valley. It was already past 10am by the time we turned onto the steep, weathered cobblestone that climbs to the summit of La Bufa.

The first section of this part of the road is drier pine but birdy nonetheless. Transvolcanic Jay, Pine Flycatcher, and our first Chestnut-sided Shrike Vireo all paid us a visit. The shrike vireo, like its cousins in the tropics, calls loudly from the treetops but is difficult to gimpse. Fortunately, this individual responded to play back and gave us a great view of its memorable color combination. Higher up, a flowering tree gave us great looks at several orioles, Scott's, Audubon's, and Bullock's, all engrossed in feeding. Around the next corner, a mixed warbler group including Hermit, Crescent-chested, and Townsend's swirled through. Some lush shrubbery nearby harbored Golden-browed Warbler and Slate-throated Redstart, the latter species the most common warbler on the mountain by far.

By the time we reached the end of the road, at almost 8,000', it was mid afternoon. Activity was not abating however. We were able to refind a group of Aztec Thrushes reported several days before. Although extremely shy, the thrushes gradually revealed themselves as we patiently sat in the oak thickets. Other birds were working the same area including both Flame-colored and Red-headed Tanagers, the latter being the northernmost tangara genus occurring in West Mexico. As we descended we paused at a flower bank that was a known location for Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer. On cue, the bird surfaced at the top of the flowers. Again, a species at the extreme north edge of its range. Icing on our birding cake came as we walked back to the vehicle and several Long-tailed Wood Partridges raucously called, a stunningly loud vocalization.


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