Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the March 20, 2016 Newsletter issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort beside Chichén Itzá Ruins, central Yucatán MÉXICO

The idea was to focus on one feature of an average morning of an average day here in the middle dry season of the Yucatan in a year that probably will turn out to be typical for our changing times. "Focus," as in an aesthetic or spiritual undertaking, or struggling to be childlike, or doing it just focusing is fun.

That morning at 4 o'clock as soon as I stepped outside to pee onto the compost heap I saw that things were a little different from how they'd been lately: Instead of the sky scintillating with stars and planets, the constellation Scorpio dominating the opening above the hut, only three or four points of light with dim halos around them glowed above me. It was a foggy morning, warmer than recent ones, 75° (24°C). On the road, after a few minutes, my beard and arm and leg hairs were wet with chilly water droplets.

After the run and washing, I pulled a chair into the hut's front yard just as dawn's first pale glow began illuminating the eastern horizon. And then I waited for the first birdcall -- the first note of the morning chorus I knew to be coming.

5:05 FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL: thin, liquid bursts of yelping twitters

{Gradually, tangled silhouettes of mostly leafless trees and vines are materializing against the lightening sky.}

5:20 LAUGHNG FALCON: in distance, hau, hau, hau...

5:29 FERRUGINOUS PYGMY-OWL: first his whistled ree-ree-ree call like a loose fan-belt, then breaking into twitters again

{A gecko in the hut seems to answer the owl with ank-ank-ank}

5:30 CLAY-COLORED ROBIN: a clucking kluh-kluh-kluh

5:34 TURQUOISE-BROWED MOTMOT: hollow, slightly nasal, owhh, owhh, owhh

-- WHITE-WINGED DOVE: his "who-cooks-for-youuuu?"

5:35 CLAY-COLORED ROBINS: one bird slurring-upward, questioning, a kitten's mew, another clucking

5:41 MELODIOUS BLACKBIRD: loud too-whet, too-whet, too-whet, then wee-chew, wee-chew and other sounds strong and piercing

5:45: By now it's a general chorus, various species, some with several calls, most notably Clay-colored Robins with their mews and clucks, the Turquoise-browed Motmot with hoarse, froggy sounds, the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl's monotonous loose fan-belt, the Melodious Blackbird's outbursts of wee-chew, wee-chew and other calls, and the White-winged Dove's "who-cooks-for-youuuu?"

5:50: GREAT KISKADEE: at first just ka-DEE but then a loud KISS-ka-DEE, KISS-ka-DEE

5:52: GOLDEN-FRONTED WOODPECKER: its sharp, ratcheting sound, eh-eh-eh-eh-eh

{By now the Sun apparently is above the horizon but it's shining through fog}

6:01: BLACK-HEADED SALTATOR: noisy collection of sharp, smacking barks, chowk! with chortling chatter

6:03: ALTAMIRA ORIOLE: varied, easy-going, sleepy-sounding series of high, wandering notes

6:07: WHITE-FRONTED PARROTS: small flock flying overhead screeching

6:11: GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE: explosive squeaks, shrieks, pops, mews, etc.

6:16: SOCIAL FLYCATCHERS: shrill trills

6:18: see a small hummingbird but hear nothing, can't identify

6:20: general bird-cacophony

At this point I rub my fingers through cold dew on the Elephant Ears next to my chair, like the way it feels, and decide to bike to Pisté to buy bananas, less because I need bananas than that biking through the fog and hearing the bird-cacophony change in character and intensity along the way seems a good way to end this exercise.

And, it was.