I soon learn that this bird watching adventure includes climbing over, or through several barbed wire fences. Rather, Bea has perfected the art of rolling under barbed wire fences, with grace. Ken gets through any way possible, and I try vainly to follow Bea’s lead.
Soon we spot several Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, and indeed these are beautiful birds, with orange legs and markings, and orange feet. They whistle beautifully. They are very shy, so it is a true challenge to get close enough to take a photo that will do justice to these beautiful birds, unless you have a long lens, or sneak up and hide somewhere and wait patiently for them to move closer to you. Bird watching lesson number five; hide in the bush and wait for the birds to approach you.
Ken and Bea lead me on a walk along the edges of the river bed which is thick with wet mud, and all kinds of scrub, in search of the perfect locale to sit and wait for the Black-bellied Whistling Ducks. The path is muddy and I sink halfway up to my knees, and quite frankly, I am no longer overly keen on this birdwatching expedition. My flip flops are stuck in the mud, and I am now hiking in bare feet as it’s impossible to walk through the mud in flip flops. Still, I retrieve my shoe. Bird lesson number six; wear runners or hiking boots. (I think I have heard that somewhere before.) I’m thinking that there might be crocodiles out and about; and possibly hidden in the mud. Bea says yes, they are around but not to worry as they are more scared of us then we are of them. Not to worry! Not to worry? Frankly, I am really worried!
I only make it through this part of the hike thanks to much motherly guidance from Bea. When we finally reach the other side of the river with a promised dry spot where we can sit and wait for the ducks, there is a bucket of water sitting in the middle of nowhere. Bea leads me to the bucket and proceeds to help me wash my flip flops, feet and ankles which are coated in mud, even after two washes. When my feet are somewhat clean she pulls out a pristine white towel for me to use to dry my feet on. My feet are still muddy, so I am really reluctant to use her white towel, but she graciously insists. I find that I am becoming accustomed to Bea’s comforting, motherly ways.
Ken and Bea lead me down a path which is not really a path but a small opening leading to a somewhat clear spot in the jungle, and tell me that we will sit here for a while to watch for birds, and for the whistling ducks to approach us. One thing Bea forgot to tell me was to wear insect repellent… Birdwatching lesson number seven by Christina; wear insect repellent.
We sit in dry brush, on the edge of the estuary in the middle of nowhere, and peer in silence through a small opening overlooking the estuary, and wait for birds, each of us wishing for a photo of a whistling duck. I’m thinking the surrounding brush must be full of critters and possibly crocodiles, but I say absolutely nothing following bird watching rule number five. (Absolute silence.)
However, I soon learn that before absolute silence rule sets in, we need to take a self-portrait. This is Ken and Bea’s Personal Bird Watching Rule, which we will call rule number eight. Bea gets out the camera and shoots some shots of us sitting in the bush, all done in relative silence. I’m thinking if a crocodile arrives before a bird, I will be breaking the rule of absolute silence, but at least if a croc gets us, whoever finds the camera will know what happened to us. Sad to say that the last photo of me will be one where I appear very scruffy, in fact dirty, and needless to say my hair is a complete mess from rolling under barbed wire fences, which I don’t do in anyway even approaching the ever so graceful Bea.
I wait and wait in silence. It seems like forever. Soon hundreds of little bugs start flying around. Ken and Bea seem real content to sit there, and all I can think is how long do we have to sit here! Privately, I’m thinking why did I want to join these two? It’s probably been just a few minutes, when I ask politely how long will we be sitting here? When do you think the whistling ducks will arrive? Ken and Bea advise that they often sit in this secret spot for a few hours, seemingly content to be at one with nature. Soon thereafter Bea says the bugs are bugging her, but I think she knows that I’m not so crazy about sitting in the middle of the jungle in dead silence, so we depart and I’m grateful.
We follow a more open path on our return journey and stop for a short break and a drink of water. Ken or perhaps it was Bea pull out a few Canadian Granola bars from their back packs, which they brought with them to Mexico, because you can’t buy them here; and they are simply the best. I graciously accept, take a bite, and stuff the remainder in my backpack, hopefully unnoticed. I’m Canadian, but frankly these bars are reminiscent of bird food. (Now I know why you can’t get them here.) I’ll bring tortillas next time around.
Birds commonly seen in Los Ayala include:
- Green Mexican Parrotlets
- Inca Doves
- Mexican Chachalacas
- Yellow-winged Caciques
- Frigate birds
- Blue-throated Magpie Jays
- and a large variety of tropical birds
Click here to read Bird Watching with Ken & Bea Rauch (Part 1).
About the Author: Christina Stobbs is a writer and photographer who lived in Los Ayala year round with her husband Robert. As a photographer, she feels fortunate to have lived in an area so rich in flora and fauna, and abundant in natural beauty. She enjoys landscape and wildlife photography, and has a fondness for pelicans. Most recently, she starting selling her photos with stock companies Dreamstime and Big Stock Photos. As a writer, she states that living in Mexico is perfect because each and every day is full of surprises.
This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. If you want to join in and share information, stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to Allyson@JaltembaBayLife.com
(Originally published February 2012 on Magical Los Ayala.)