Posts tagged “mexico

A Bridge to the Birds of Paradise

Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve was the single most heavenly tropical place I’ve ever been.  Even without the amazing birding experience, I would go back in a second.

Sian Ka’an is close to Tulum, Mexico on the Yucatan Peninsula – a dazzling coastal ecosystem.  My husband and I rambled along in our rented Jeep with no A/C on a long white gravel road that winds along the coast of the Caribbean Sea.  It was a drop dead gorgeous sunny hot day.  The shining white beaches were radiant even with the washed-up garbage strewn about.  I hopped over photo op after photo op, looking for pieces of beach glass (something I could do for days, weeks, months!).

If it had been our choice, my husband and I would have driven that road till the end. But as we all know, daylight is limited and vacation time goes especially fast.

Possibly the best part of Sian Ka’an was the old weathered bridge that stood alongside the newer bridge that we traveled on.  They cross a beautiful blue-green river that flows into the ocean.  You can see a video of them here.

Locals fished off the bridges, breezes relieved the heat, and I found bird after bird to photograph.   To the left are female and male Great-Tailed Grackles.  The gull, tern, and turnstone were firsts for me (below).

I’ll fondly remember this old weathered bridge for all my days, along with the fine feathered friends I met that day.


Say’s Phoebe on Rosie Creek Trail

I spotted this sunbathing beauty near Rosie Creek Trail outside of Fairbanks in August 2009.

Maybe it was migrating south.  Or maybe it was spending the last couple of days surveying its territory, waiting for a Crane Fly to wander by.  Either way, doesn’t it look more majestic than its humble 4 or 5 inches?

The Say’s Phoebe is named after Thomas Say, a naturalist who named hundreds of new species at the beginning of the 1800s.  He identified over 1,000 species of beetle alone, and over 400 other insects.  He saw and described the Say’s Phoebe during an expedition to the Rocky Mountains in 1819.

But isn’t it kind of silly to associate this enigmatic little creature to a man from the 1800s?  And what did Native Americans call the Say’s Phoebe?  … What is in a name anyway?

… Alas, we must communicate.

 

You might have noticed that this spruce tree has a lot of cones.  Apparently, the year after a conifer goes through a period of stress – such as drought – the tree produces a crop of cones that is much larger than normal. The dark ones are immature.

This is a Black Spruce (there are no naturally occurring pine trees in interior or northern Alaska though spruce trees are often mistaken for them).  Black Spruce is looked at with disdain by a lot of Alaskans because it represents unbuildable wetlands fraught with frost lenses and mucky tundra.

But this mucky tundra is the Say’s Phoebe’s living room for the summer.  It spends its years flying between an arctic paradise and a tropical paradise.  To the Say’s Phoebe, this fair-sized Black Spruce (12-15 feet tall) is the perfect perch for hunting mosquitos, unbuildable wetlands and all.