We rose early and sadly left the Posada and the lovely city of Antigua at 6 a.m. and headed North-West on the Panamerican highway, for our next destination, called Rincón Suizo [literally translates as 'Swiss Corner']. Rincón Suizo is a restaurant located at km 94 of the highway, north of the city of Tecpán, at an elevation of 2500 m (8200 ft). There is a forest reserve behind the restaurant which is family-owned and comprises pine, oak and alder. We arrived at 7 a.m. and sat down to an excellent breakfast. It has to be said that the food on this trip was excellent at all times.
Suitably satiated we set off on foot along a trail up into the forest with our minds set on finding the legendary Pink-headed Warbler, another regional endemic species limited to southern Mexico and Guatemala. Almost straight away we were on to one of these stunning little birds flitting around in the canopy together with Tennessee, Nashville, Wilson's and Townsend's Warblers, and the very smart Slate-throated Whitestart. Other species in the same locality were Northern Tufted Flycatcher, Hairy Woodpecker, Hutton's Vireo, White-naped Brushfinch, Bronzed Cowbird, and the stripy Band-backed Wren. Another good find was a Mountain Trogon, although sadly not close enough for a decent photo. Walking back down the hill we came to an area with large thistles which were attracting hummers - Amethyst-throated Mountaingems in the main. Farther down we came to a fenced area of grass where a man was busy with a scythe. Just outside the fenced section was a clump of scrub and our leaders heard a call, which eventually turned into a very skulky Rufous-capped Nightingale-thrush, a good one to get, and it did eventually give itself up with reasonable views.
Today had a bit of a glitch in that we kind of forgot about lunch, but we did have plenty of water to drink and the birds were good! So, after the session at Rincón Suizo we headed off to an area of cloud forest in an area known as Fuentes Georginas, where there are hot springs. We birded here for the remainder of the day, along the road. We built up a good list of hummers, with White-eared, Garnet-throated, and Rivoli's, plus Mexican Violetear, Amethyst-throated Mountaingem and Green-throated Mountaingem. Other small birds included Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer, Rufous-collared Sparrow, Common Bush-tanager and Brown-backed Solitaire. Of the larger birds seen, those worthy of note were Northern Emerald Toucanet, Band-tailed Pigeon, Unicoloured Jay and Great-tailed Grackle [these latter were daily birds]. Even larger [had we seen them!] were a couple of Highland Guans, but sadly they had to go down as just heard. We were also reminded of the volcanic nature of the area whilst standing at one section of the road, where steam with the classic bad egg aroma of hydrogen sulphide, was issuing from a jumble of rocks. Eventually we were birded out and made our way down to the valley and headed off to our accommodation for the night, which was at the Las Cumbres Eco Hotel near the town of Zunil. After another great meal we got an early night in preparation for a very early start tomorrow for our quest for the legendary Horned Guan, one of the rarest birds in the world.