Our last full day in Mexico arrived all too quickly but we’d had a great time so far so anything else was a bonus. I’d been neglecting the sea which was right outside our room and the sea was the most likely place that I would find a bird I’d wanted to see for years, Elegant Tern. It would also allow a gentle start to the day for Sandra who’d finally managed a decent night’s sleep for the first time since the sniffles started.
I took up station on the headland not 50m from our room and began to scope up the passing sea birds. First bird scoped, you’ve guessed it, Elegant Tern. The post dawn dispersal of sea birds from Banderas Bay to north was quite pronounced and Royal, and Forster’s Tern soon showed along with the omnipresent Blue-Footed and Brown Boobies. Heermann’s Gulls too were flying offshore along with the odd Laughing Gull and, of course, Brown Pelicans. All my sea staring meant that I’d neglected the shoreline, a quick scan showed the regular Whimbrels, Willets, Sanderlings, Wilson’s Plovers and, hello, seven Surfbirds and a Ruddy Turnstone, nice.
With a lifer in the bag we decided we were going to try for Elegant Quail and perhaps Collared Plover, the latter species something not seen by us since Costa Rica in 2006. We thought that the best spot to search would be the agricultural lands along the banks of the Rio Ameca for the quail and the delta where it emptied into the sea for the plover. There was little information available on how to find a route to the estuary so we drove a track, took a lane, got lost, found a guard who guided us to a tunnel and then emerged onto the banks of the river and the many bounties it had to offer. We entered the broad track opposite a sand bar stacked with birds. One problem for us would be the construction trucks thundering along feet away and the dust that they generated but for now, no matter, we had birds to look at.
A cursory scan revealed new trip birds in the shape of hundreds of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks. A fair sized flock of shorebirds were all Short-billed Dowitchers and a Caspian Tern rested amongst the crowd. Black-necked Stilts were in abundance with a few American Avocets in there too, herons were everywhere. We birded the river to the mouth and back inland again adding ten or more species to the trip list but no Elegant Quails or Collared Plover were found. It was soon very hot and early afternoon beckoned so we dropped the car off a couple of hours early and made our way back to the hotel. We took a cool drink break before giving it one last go.
As we’d returned to the hotel by taxi I’d noticed a track almost opposite the entrance which looked promising. We set off to explore and found it to be pretty good, how had we not checked this out before? The track served small farms and houses but for the most part passed through Thorn scrub and weedy fields and would surely be a good ‘first light’ venue. As it was the heat of the day was slow to cool and the week’s ills were inviting fatigue. We did about 1.5km along the track before deciding to call it a day. The track had provided a nice mixed flock of warblers and our only Tropical Parula of the trip but the beans had run out for today, time for a beer and perhaps another sea watch.
The day’s birding had been good and we’d still managed to see 92 species and that was without our regular Rufous-bellied Chachalacas putting in an appearance at the hotel. Tomorrow we fly home leaving the hotel at 9:15 so either just enough time to get up the track or at least check the hotel Botanical Garden. Last day is almost always like this, me looking to squeeze another half hour, Sandra resigned to a day of travel.
The last morning produced nothing new. Our first trip to Pacific Mexico had been excellent and we’d left enough places to visit and birds to see to require at least one and possibly more return visits. A week is never enough but it would have to do for now.
Below are a selection of photos, the final batch. I hope that you have enjoyed these ramblings and that you are inspired to go to Puerto Vallarta and especially Rancho Primavera. I’ll say it one last time to be sure but the Puerto Vallarta area is safe and untouched by the current crime issues that sadly affect other parts of Mexico. Any birders basing themselves at the Grand Palladium would not be disappointed in either the birds or hotel, request room 3202, it has the best of everything.
I’ll be working on the formal trip report now which will be posted under the trip reports tab at the top of the page. I’d be happy to answer any queries re our trip, just drop me a line to dennisM@videotron.ca
The photos are: View of part of the Rio Ameca where it enters the sea, lots of Common Dolphins. Rio Ameca view. Yellow-winged Cacique. Cinnamon Hummingbird. Track oppisite the Grand Palladium. View of the rock cove from the hotel room. Crabs. Sandbar, about 30% of the view, covered in Black-bellied Whistling Ducks etc. Fisherman on Rio Ameca – there are tons of crocs in there! Green pondhawk type. Groove-billed Ani. Northern Beardless Tyrannulet. American Coot. Snowy Egret. Magnificent Frigatebird. Brown Pelican images. Turkey Vulture. Darner sp. ‘Mexican’ Mallards just to prove we saw some. Skimmer sp. Royal Tern. San Blas Jay. Streak-backed Oriole. Fat bloke sea watching again! Tricoloured Heron. Fisherman on the opposite bank attended by Brown Pelicans, Snowy and Great Egrets and a Black-crowned Night-Heron. 30m to the left two 2.5m Crocodiles basked on the same bank.