Western Mexico

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Date: 
Wednesday, April 8, 2015 - Monday, April 20, 2015

Nayarit, Jalisco & Colima

The coastal states of Colima, Jalisco and Nayarit offer a rich and diverse introduction to tropical birding. The states of Colima and Jalisco harbor a diversity of ecosystems, offering habitats from beaches to mountain forests on the two peaks of the Volcanes del Colima. We amass an impressive tally of species, from shrike-vireos and silky-flycatchers to such possibilities as Long-tailed Wood-Partridge and Balsas Screech-Owl, the spectacular Red-breasted Chat and much-sought-after Rosy Thrush-Tanager. In Nayarit, the area around San Blas is a mix of lowland habitats of palm and thorn forests, oak woods, mangroves, freshwater marshes and coastal lagoons, and the diversity of birds reflects this mix, ranging from Blue-footed Booby and Collared Plover to Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, Boat-billed Heron and Rufous-necked Wood-Rail, to chachalacas, parakeets and parrotlets, trogons and motmots. Our leader, Hector Gomez de Silva, is thoroughly familiar with this avifauna, so you are assured of a rewarding and successful tour.

Highlights

• Excellent birding in a wide variety of habitats, from mangroves and beaches to mountain forests, amidst spectacular scenery

• Many tropical families of birds represented, along with several endemics. A great tour for seeing a lot of birds, and many exotic and exciting species.

• Our leader, Hector Gomez de Silva, is among the foremost birders in Mexico, and knows the area well
 

Day 1: Arrival and Orientation

This tour begins with arrival in Guadalajara, where our tour leader(s) will meet you and the group will be transferred to our hotel. Night in Guadalajara.

Days 2-4: Ciudad Guzmán

We bird on our drive to the city of Ciudad Guzmán and spend the next two days exploring the many different habitats of this marvelous area. We bird the twin volcanoes of the Volcán de Fuego (Volcano of Fire, and still steaming) and the Volcán de Nieve (Volcano of Ice) and the adjacent agricultural lands. The rich, dense forests on the volcano’s slopes are home to some great birds, such as Dwarf Vireo, Long-tailed Wood-Partridge, Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo, and Red Warbler. The forests ring to the marvelous song of the Brown-backed Solitaire, an amazing singer. Mixed-species feeding flocks are often encountered, holding a rich assortment of goodies, perhaps including Gray-collared Becard, Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer or Golden-browed Warbler. Hummingbirds are well represented, and we should have an impressive list by the end of our stay here. We bird the nearby agricultural areas for Banded Quail, White-tailed Hawk, Rusty-crowned Ground-Sparrow and possible Lesser Roadrunner. We may do an optional trip to look for night birds on the first night, with the endemic Eared Poorwill being a possibility. On Day 4 we transfer to Colima where we will want to do an owling trip to look for Balsas Screech-Owl and Buff- collared Nightjar. First two nights in Ciudad Guzmán, last night in Colima.

Days 5-6: Barra de Navidad and Playa de Oro

First we drive north along the coastal plain to Barra de Navidad, Jalisco, birding at Laguna La María, Manzanillo and Manzanillo airport marshes on the way. From Barra de Navidad, we will also bird the tropical deciduous forest and beach at Playa de Oro, and the tropical semi-deciduous forest at Barranca el Choncho. In these places, we may find Flammulated Flycatcher, Red-breasted Chat, Rosy Thrush-Tanager, Fan-tailed Warbler, San Blas Jay, Happy and Sinaloa Wrens, and Orange-breasted Bunting. Nights in Barra de Navidad.

Days 7-8: Rancho Primavera

We transfer to Rancho Primavera, a lodge in the foothill town of El Tuito, for a two-night stay. Accommodations are comfortable and food is excellent. Species around the lodge include Collared Forest-Falcon, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Mottled Owl, Cinnamon Hummingbird, Plain-capped Starthroat, Masked Tityra, Rosy Thrush-Tanager and Black-vented Oriole. Nearby woodlands host Pale-billed and Lineated Woodpeckers, Ivory-billed Woodcreeper, Colima Pygmy-Owl, Rufous-capped Warbler, Nutting’s Flycatcher, Long-billed (Mexican) Hermit and more. We will have a second chance to look for Eared Poorwill near the lodge. Nights at Rancho Primavera

Day 9: Tepic

We leave Rancho Primavera to drive to Tepic, near where we will look for Military Macaws and a large variety of highland and mid-elevation birds including Tufted Flycatcher, Bright-rumped Attila, Greater Pewee and the rare Mexican Woodnymph. Night in Tepic.

Days 10-12: San Blas area

During our two days in the San Blas area, we visit the mangroves and lowland wetlands for wading birds such as Bare-throated Tiger-heron, Boat-billed Heron, maybe Rufous-necked Wood-Rail, as well as Northern Potoo and Mangrove Cuckoo, and the plantations, palm and thorn forests for a wealth of species including several endemics including Rufous-bellied Chachalaca, Mexican Parrotlet, San Blas and Purplish-backed Jays, Golden-cheeked Woodpecker, Golden Vireo, Rufous-backed Robin (there are two “races” here, one of which, Grayson’s Robin, is a potential split found nowhere else on the mainland), Orange-fronted Parakeet, Black-throated Magpie-Jay and Stripe-headed Sparrow. Nights in San Blas.

Day 13: Departure

We will transfer to the Puerto Vallarta Airport, where our tour ends. 

Dates: April 8-20, 2015

Duration: 13 days

Price: t.b.a. (2012 was: $2,975 USD/CAD; single supplement $375 USD/CAD)

Tour Starts: Guadalajara

Tour Ends: Puerto Vallarta 

• Moderate walking, little hill climbing

• Warm and hot days, pleasant nights

• A couple of cool mornings

• Mainly very good accommodation

• Spectacular scenery

• Includes all meals

• 4 to 8 participants with one leader; 9 to 12 with two leaders

Our daily travel schedule will vary to account for weather, bird species and habitat. We often want to be out birding early in the morning — we may have breakfast before dawn or take a box breakfast into the field. In addition, there will be a few optional late evening expeditions in search of nocturnal birds for those interested. The tour will involve generally easy walking and some hill climbing and it may be muddy in one or two places. There will be a couple of long drives of up to five or six hours, but we stop at two or three places along the way to break up these journeys into shorter segments. When we have two leaders, we sometimes split into “faster” and “slower” groups.

Around noon time we stop to have a picnic lunch or, usually, for a sit-down meal at a restaurant. If it is hot, as it can be in western Mexico, we may rest for an hour or so during the middle of the afternoon. During dinner we discuss the day’s activities and review the list of birds seen and heard.

We will be visiting in the dry season, but we may encounter showers late in the day. During our time in Tepic and on Volcán de Fuego, when we are at higher elevations, we will encounter cooler weather. For the most part, January is a season of high bird activity and a lovely time to visit Mexico.
 

Previous checklists from our West Mexico tours:

2013 West Mexico species list (pdf)
2009 West Mexico species list (pdf)