Puerto Vallarta day 4 – Rancho Primavera
February 4, 2013 2 Comments
At 02.30 two young Canadians were talking at full volume on the balcony outside our front door. Sandra, showing her irritation, opened our door and asked “why don’t you people shut up” or words to that effect and it produced an immediate apology and silence thereafter. Brits visiting North America for the first time almost always comment that the people here communicate more loudly than (most) Brits and it is true, they do. I can be birding St-Lazare sand pits in the early morning listening for the distinctive sneeze of a Magnolia Warbler passing overhead and hear each and every word from a pair of regular dog walkers who are no more than 1.5m from each other but upwards of 300m from me! I have a theory, and I mention this not as a criticism, it is that Canadians and some Americans are genetically programmed to talk loudly in order to scare away Bears. I hope this aside doesn’t offend anybody, it’s not meant too, just a whimsical observation. So, we didn’t really have a restful night and Sandra was incubating a cold that she had saved up all year until our vacation to enjoy, Mr. Kleenex would be able to afford Beef for Sunday dinner this week!
Today we were going ‘off-site’ having booked two nights at the unknown quantity that was Rancho Primavera. I’d read about the site in a trip report while researching where to go and what we might see and thought it would make a good alternative location, the birding sounded great. I Google-d the site and came up with the details. For a very reasonable 1000 pesos per night (c $80CAN) we could rent a house on the Rancho that overlooked a lake. I emailed Bonnie and she confirmed our booking and so we would try to arrive there sometime in the afternoon.
Given the noisy night the impending cold and the rather loud ocean! We had a slightly later start to the day, getting away at around 08.00. We decided to head back up the Vista Vallarta Golf Club track, it was on the way and we would be there much earlier there than before and so off we went. The track proved frustrating as we could hear both Military Macaw and Lilac-crowned Parrot but couldn’t get a fix on them against the forested hillsides. It was soon clear from the receding calls that the macaws and parrots were off up the valley somewhere inaccessible. I did manage a brief view of a Mexican Parrotlet as it hared across the seaward end of the valley. As it got quieter we dropped back down to the riverside spot that had been so productive before and soon found a gang of busy warblers. One of the group looked odd but kept high in the canopy giving brief views and it kept being lost. Eventually decent views confirmed it as Golden Vireo; it was much yellower than expected.
We explored a few lanes getting great view of Happy Wren (great name) and a Northern Beardless Tyrannulet (err…) before hitting the highway. We proceeded south through Puerto Vallarta and just kept going confident that, as this was the only road through, there would be no issues, it was when we pulled up at the bollards we realised that we’d missed something important. It took a little while to navigate back to the main route 200 but we weren’t the only ones doing it by the look of the confused faces around us.
The road is slow because of the topes until you get out of the Puerto Vallarta area then you hit a more open highway (off sorts) until you reach the town of El Tuito. Make a right, keep going along the cobbled streets out past the church, go 3km, look for the sign on the right, and take the track, cross the river! As we bumped along, distracted by flitting things doing that teasing thing that birds do to birder drivers we realised that we’d struck lucky. We pulled into the driveway of the house and Bonnie greeted us and a Lilac-crowned Parrot flew in and landed on her shoulder. They do rehab work there and although the parrot was wild it still liked human company. Hummers buzzed the feeders and the whole place had that undefinable birdy-ness folk like us can sense. We followed Bonnie in her truck to the house, a ten minute walk but three minute drive away and Sandra just kept saying how great the place was and she was right.
There are two houses for rent; we’d gone for the Adobe because it was easy to spell. The house is set up above a lake on which Least Grebes were pottering about and a mixed gang of herons were grunting in one corner. The house is very comfortable and has wi fi, something our posh hotel didn’t manage to provide every day and then only if you stood virtually under the router. There is a cooker, fridge, freezer and microwave and there are local restaurants if you want to eat out. The bedroom has a picture window which looks out over the lake and you have a terrace with hummer feeder and panoramic views of a thorn forest hillside. It was time to sit down, make a coffee and take it all in.
From our arrival until we went out shopping for provisions we saw 55 species and we’d barely explored the 200 acre property. We took a short trail finding plenty to keep us busy and the day just zipped past. We decided that we would prefer to eat in and so ventured back into El Tuito to stock up, passing a Common Pauraque on the way.
The store was Mexican. We walked the aisles picking up a bag of eggs, a loaf, some bacon (which was excellent) sugar, cheese, beer (two) etc. When we got back and started to prep for dinner when we discovered that the loaf was coated in sugar and the bag of sugar was in fact flour. We also got a bag of oats to make breakfast porridge but, as I found them on the pet food aisle, they might have actually been for horses. They tasted fine and there have been no effects barring a craving for sugar lumps so we did OK.
That evening we sat on the deck in total darkness with a sky that looked like a dandruff victim’s velvet jacket under a fluorescent disco light. In the distance a Mottled Owl called and so did something that sounded like a Spectacled Owl but they don’t occur there so who knows what it was. The pool had barking Black-crowned Night-Herons and somewhere out there rails of undetermined species were grunting and coughing, it was great.
We did the log and found that today was the first time we’d hit 100 species for the day, 146 for the trip. It certainly beats birding in cold, cold Quebec.
Below views of Rancho Primavera, the adobe house and a few birds including Mexican Yellow Grosbeak – stunning.