Trip Report – June 2011
Day 1: Left Peurto Vallarta in the morning and drove south towards the Botanical Gardens. Stopped about 10 kms south of town and birded the road – 9 species including San Blas Jay, Citrolene Trogon and Streak-backed Oriole. Then on to the gardens – this is an amazing place and worth spending as much time as possible. Great restaurant, hummingbird feeders and trails. 14 new species for the trip including 3 life birds – Mexican Hermit, Red-crowned Ant-Tanager and Russet-crowned Motmot.
Drove on to Barra de Navidad – Black-bellied Whistling Duck, West Mexican Chacalaca and Crested Caracara. Nice little village – we stayed on Isla de Navidad which was a bit of a drive but the hotel was wonderful and there is a little ferry boat across to the town itself.
Day 2: Started lazily to enjoy breakfast on the deck of this lovely hotel and then drove to Barranca el Chonco (7.4 in the book) – which was great even though it was midday. Red-billed Pigeon, Lineated Woodpecker, Nutting’s Flycatcher, Blue Bunting, Golden Vireo, Olive Sparrow, and more. Nice shady spot.
On the way back to Isla de Navidad we saw White Ibis and Greyish Saltator
Day 3: After such a great time at Barranca el Chonco at midday yesterday we decided to see it first thing in the morning. On the way to the main road from the hotel we saw Common Nighthawk over the gold course. Then when we got to Barranca it was very quiet but we did get Pale-billed Woodpecker, White-tipped Dove and Lilac-crowned Parrot.
Decided to check out the road to Manzanillo airport but that was even quieter so we headed inland towards Colima. Easy drive – so after locating our hotel we thought we would hit a couple of the other spots noted in Howell’s book but it was all extremely quiet. Because we really hadn’t seen much we went back out in the late afternoon to Microondas La Cumbre ( 7.10 in the book) and we finally found some birds. Rufus-naped Wren, Lessor Roadrunner, Black-chested Sparrow, Orange-breasted Bunting, White-throated Magpie-Jay, Squirrel Cuckoo and Violet-crowned Hummingbird. Finally!!
The hotel in Colima was right on a square with some great restaurants although there was a festival that went on quite late – which isn’t great for us early-rising birders!
Day 4: A big birding day today so a very early start. Drove to Volcan de Fuego (7.8) – this is a
great location because it goes through many different habitats. It is quite isolated once you get up into the forest and we questioned afterwards if it was totally safe but we didn’t feel concerned when we were up there and we actually didn’t see anyone after the first few kilometers. 28 new species for the trip and a great day out – take food and water. Long-tailed Wood-partridge, Greater Pewee, Pine Flycatcher, Spotted Wren, Brown-backed Solitaire, Orange-billed Nightingale Thrush, Gray Silky, Slat Vireo, Blue-Hooded Euphonia, Rufus-capped Brushfinch and Rusty Sparrow were all life birds for us.
Then drove down to Manzanillo (very unattractive place) and found a very beautiful hotel to spoil ourselves.
Day 5: Tried the road to Playa de Oro – White-bellied Wren, Flammulated Flycatcher, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl and then at the beach Red-billed Tropicbird (quite distant) Brown booby and a very unexpected Solitary eagle. We then worked our way north back towards Puerto Vallarta stopping at a wetland on highway 200 at kilometer 50. Nice spot but be careful by the road.
On to El Tuito to look for Military Macaw – but no luck – plenty of other species though and worth stopping. Then drove further up the mains road and stopped to look at White-naped Swift when a group of about 8 Military macaws flew over us!
Stayed back in Puerto Vallarta.
Day 6: Today we went to find Laguna Quelele – which isn’t easy to find and isn’t the same place that is used to be – certainly not what is in the book. We had been here before many years ago (it wasn’t easy to find then either!) and once again found it almost by mistake. It is now a private home but no one seemed to mind that we were there. It is fabulous for all the herons and egrets and definitely worth a visit if you can find it.
General notes: This was an easy route with good hotels and great birds. We didn’t pre-book any hotels which meant we had great flexibility. This trip was a great short-break requiring no planning – but you will need Steve Howell’s book to access these places.
Guides & Resources
Guides – We didn’t use guides.
Field Guide – Birds of Mexico & Central America – Ber Van Perlo
Where to find birds – A Bird-finding Guide to Mexico – Steve Howell ( a little out of date now but a good resource nevertheless.)
Lonely Planet Guide for points of interest.