Archive for the ‘El Triunfo’ Tag

19th – 28th February 2014 – El Triunfo National Park, Chiapas, Mexico   Leave a comment

When I returned from Mexico I uploaded a short summery of the trip to my blog. Having now edited all the pictures I am now uploading a batch from the first part of the trip: El Triunfo National Park in the state of Chiapas.

Photos of the two key birds of the area, the Horned Guan and Resplendant Quetzal, have already been uploaded in March.

IMG_0008 Sumidero Canyon

Our tour started at the scenic Sumidero Canyon near to the state capital of Tuxtla Gutierrez. In the afternoon we drove to Galtnango, a small town within striking distance of El Triunfo.


On route we picked up a number of widespread birds for the trip list, including some distant, gulls, herons and pelicans on this reservoir.

IMG_0061 Laughing Falcon

The following morning we drove to the base of the trail that leads up the Atlantic slope of El Triunfo, seeing many good birds, including this Laughing Falcon on route.


About midday started the long climb to the park HQ, it was a 12km hike and a 730 m climb, pretty tiring but not too bad at a slow birding pace. With the exception of the park buildings, this was the last view we were to have of human habitation or activity for the next week.



All our luggage and food went up on horseback.

IMG_0071 Singing Quail

We were very lucky to get such good views of this Singing Quail.



Our excellent local guides, Amy and Jorge and the El Triunfo HQ. We were able to stay in dormitory accommodation for our four nights here.


IMG_0176 El triunfo

Each morning the rising sun illuminated overnight mist in the clearing.



Usually walking the trails was quite easy, but there were some obstacles!


IMG_0142 WF Quail-dove

Extraordinarily shy, we had given up hope of seeing White-faced Quail-dove until one was found visiting the compost heap at the back of the kitchen, but it still took a couple of hours of patient observation before it put in an appearance.

IMG_0109 Emerald Toucanet

Emerald Toucanet has been split into five species, the nominate form in Mexico keeps the original English name.


IMG_0189 Fulvous Owl

We had great views of the endemic and very localised Fulvous Owl at night but struggled to get decent photos. Fortunately we came across this obliging individual in the daytime a few days later.



IMG_0104 El Triunfo

Trees draped in moss and bromeliads (air plants) typify these cool mountain forests.



After three full days on the Atlantic side of the park we said goodbye at dawn and climbed another 150m to the Continental Divide and started our decent of the Pacific slope …


… where we were immediately plunged into dense cloud and so missed out on views of the distant Pacific Ocean.


IMG_0261 Gartered Trogon

A male Gartered Trogon


IMG_0207 El Triunfo

Eventually we dropped below the cloud. The slopes are not deforested by locals but by the regular landslides that occur on these precipitous ridges.



IMG_0198 Tody Motmot

The diminutive Tody Motmot is a rare inhabitant of the Pacific slope. Other great birds included the little known Cabanis Tanager, Long-tailed Manakin and …


IMG_0267 Yellow-winged Tanager

… this Yellow-winged Tanager caught having an early morning stretch



On the Pacific slope we had to camp at three different sites on consecutive nights. On the left is Bob Higbie from North Carolina who has been visiting Mexico since the early sixties. Mark van Beirs (right) was the tour leader and Birdquest managing director Mark Beaman (standing) came along to document the 10,000 species for the Birdquest life list.

IMG_0296 Crossing river

On the last morning we left the camp, crossed the river and walked along fairly open ground to our transport. we were back in ‘civilisation’. Much of the rest of the day was spent birding in open habitat and farmland scrub as we made our way back to Tuxtla Guttierez.


IMG_0299 Grey Hawk

Several Grey Hawks were seen over the open areas.


IMG_0303 Wren

Giant Wrens lived up to their name

IMG_0309 Rosita's Bunting

The exquisite Rosita’s (or Rose-bellied) Bunting was a life bird for me but it didn’t pose well for photos.

IMG_0331 Orange=breasted Bunting

Female Orange-breasted Buntings were pretty enough ….

IMG_0328 Orange-breasted Bunting

… but the males were just mind blowing!

After an excellent days birding we over-nighted in Tuxtla before heading to the airport, most of the group flew home, but Mark van Beirs, Riita and myself flew to Mexico City and then on to Cancun for the second part of our trip – the Yucatan peninsula.

El Triunfo had been a truly excellent place to go birding, great birds, great scenery and great company. The hiking and camping was quite tiring but it was a price well worth paying for such an excellent trip


Posted April 16, 2014 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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18th February – 12 March – Two very different sides to Mexico   Leave a comment

I have just returned from a double trip to Mexico, a two separate trips taken back to back.

The first was to the El Triunfo reserve in the southern state of Chiapas, close to the Guatemalan border. This huge area  covers 120,000 hectares of montane forest and is completely undeveloped. For eight days we hiked from the east side of the park to the west, climbing up to 2200m and dropping down to a few hundred metres asl on the Pacific side. We stayed in basic accommodation at the park HQ for four nights and camped for three nights at three separate sites.

It was a small group with just six clients, as well as leader Mark van Beirs we were accompanied by two local birders, Jorge and Amy. As this was a very important landmark for Birdquest, the 10,000th bird species ever to be recorded on one of their tours was expected on this trip, managing director Mark Beaman came along to document the event.

Birding was great, I personally recorded 272 bird species or which 47 were ‘life’ birds. There were many highlights, two of which are shown below, others will follow in due course.


El Triunfo early morning mists over the park HQ. It was wonderful to spend a week in these cool, moss covered montane forests. Apart from the buildings at the HQ we saw no evidence of human activity what so ever, no  sounds from vehicles, planes, no localpeople, even no phone reception.


The highlight of the trip came quite early, the first afternoon in fact. El Triunfo is the only accessible location where you can see the bizarre Horned Guan. This huge cracid was found making its deep booming call from a tree top at dusk. It was claimed that this was Birdquest’s 10,000th species but I have a sneaking suspicion that that was actually the unassuming Paltry Tyrannulet!


Another key bird in the reserve is the Resplendant Quetzal. Birds here have an even longer tail than the better known birds from Costa Rica

The second tour was to the Yucatan peninsula. Mark and I flew to Mexico City and then on to Cancun where we met up with the rest of the group. Compared to El Triunfo, the contrasts in the terrain, habitat, physical effort, birds, group composition and level of isolation from the noise of the 21st century couldn’t have been greater. The Cancun and Cozumel area was particularly noisy, not only were they full of sun seeking tourists but it was the Mardis Gras festival and locals partied well into the night.


The boat crossing to Cozumel took far longer than expected due to the large number travelling to the island to partake in Mardi Gras. We didn’t loose much birding time but had to queue for hours in the hot sun. That night the Mardis Gras procession went right past our hotel


At Rio Lagartos on the north coast of the peninsula, we saw a wonderful range of water birds including flocks of beautiful American Flamingos


No trip to the Yucatan would be complete without a visit to one of its famous Mayan ruins. Most tourists visit Chichen Itza (shown here) but we also visited Calakmul further south which is even more impressive and also has great birds like Ocellated Turkey and Great Curassow along the access road.

This is only a quick overview of the two tours. I have over a thousand photos to edit but first I must prepare a talk for the Dorset Bird Club AGM in ten days time, so it might take a little while!