Car rental collection time was not until 10.00am so we went out onto the road and had a look around from just after first light. The road was fairly busy but we managed to locate some nice scrub enjoying a noisy Thick-billed Kingbird, only our second ever, and a good mixture of buntings and seedeaters. The top bird was a male Varied Bunting looking quite stunning in the morning sun. I didn’t manage a photo but Sandra’s super zoom Canon did.
We heard distant parrots but no views and we found a good mob of bold White-striped Sparrows, another lifer. To end the first stage of the morning’s birding we explored a little track where the hotel dumped the garden cuttings. It turned out to be quite good and we found a Sinaloa Wren complete with nest and a couple of hummers, Ruby-throated and Black-chinned. The track led to an old site for a new hotel but it had obviously been abandoned (for now) some years previously. It was along here that we saw our second Crane Hawk of the day, this time a cracking adult. On the way back to the hotel we had fun watching an immature Grey Hawk which decided to sit tight for a quick photo before slipping off.
Here are a few shots of the hotel and from the walk. Rufous-bellied Chachalaca; Grey Hawk; Grand Palladium Arboretum view; Green Iguana; lousy Macgillivray’s Warbler photo; Thick-billed Kingbird; Pale-billed Woodpecker; male Varied Bunting; view of the sea watching point (from our room).
Our car rental had been booked from home. We usually use one of the regular rental agencies but they all seem to be based back in Puerto Vallarta so we search and found Gecko Car Rental in nearby Bucerias. The rental for the Saturday at 10.00am to the following Friday at 5.00pm was $270USD all in for cash with a credit card imprint left for the deposit. If you visit the area, and you should, here is the link http://www.geckorentcar.com/ We took a hotel taxi to the office and were very impressed by how quickly we were in, out and on the road. There are a few differences between driving in Mexico and Canada but the rental guys explained everything to us and we had no problems all week.
Once mobile we went out for an explore and came across our only Police Checkpoint shortly after setting off. The Police are not at all interested in polite tourists and we were soon on our way. We checked out a few sites but the day had started to simmer and so we thought we’d head for a wetland habitat. Laguna de Quelele is the only site in the PV area to feature in Howell and Webb’s ‘Bird Finding in Mexico’ but it is also well recommended in several trip reports housed on Blake Maybank’s ‘Birding the Americas’ site http://www3.ns.sympatico.ca/maybank/main.htm so we set off to seek it.
A few missed turns and some navigating by nose later, we pulled into the stone arch that denoted the access to part of the lagoon. Nobody was around and we really could not see any formal trail system but we eventually found a passing guy who nodded in agreement that we were in the right place and could go on and look. A short while later a man in a pick-up called me over and explained that he was the owner, access was $5.USD (total for both of us) and that the money was used to keep a trail open. I paid the cash and we went for a wander with one wary eye on the water’s edge where, allegedly, a large Crocodile lived, one that had recently devoured a local dog. We saw small crocs of about two meters long and plenty of slither trails but no real monsters and we were sure to follow Jerry Lewis’s advice and never smile at any of them!. The trail to the lagoon edge was fairly short but we saw quite a few birds around a smaller pond and, as the tide was out on the main lagoon the expanse of mud was awash with various shorebirds, ducks and herons.
The smaller distant blobs were too far away for identification and we resolved to revisit with the scope later in the week. We didn’t get the Rufous-necked Wood-Rails either so they too would have to wait but we saw a very nice selection of birds and an early morning visit with the tide right would be well worthwhile. I’ll put precise access information for the lagoon in the trip report when completed, unfortunately the way things developed meant that we didn’t get the chance to return, this time at least.
Photos: American Crocodile; Green Heron; Two views of the lagoon and a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron there.
We ended up rounding the day off in the grounds of the hotel where Citreoline Trogon was added to the tally, a tally that came to 79 species for the day and taking the trip total to 88.
Google the Vallarta bird festival for more details of this year’s event.