Jalisco with WingsWest Birding
FEB.05-FEB.19, 2020: 14 days, 13 nights
Overview: This tour begins and ends in Puerto Vallarta and circles the western and southern parts of the state of Jalisco. The trip goes from coastal mangroves through the Sierra El Tuito, tropical deciduous forest, coastal scrub, estuaries, rocky headlands, salt and fresh water marshes, oak woodlands, altiplano grasslands, and high pine forests. One of the finest remaining habitats in West Mexico, Biosfera Manantlan, is included in the trip. Many Mexico endemics will be encountered and we will find around 300 species.
Price $3095 double occupancy; $300 single supplement.
All costs inclusive from pick up and drop off at the Puerto Vallarta airport.
Day 1: Arrive in Puerto Vallarta by 2pm. We will then transfer to Conchas Chinas on the south side of Puerto Vallarta where we will bird a local undeveloped habitat. Possible species here include Lineated Woodpecker, Red-crowned Ant Tanager, Squirrel Cuckoo, and Gray-breasted Martin. Night in Conchas Chinas.
Day 2: For our first full day of birding we will head to the north side of PV to do a boat trip into Laguna Quelele. The road into the estuary passes through a mix of forest and cleared areas where we may encounter Citreoline Trogon, Mexican Parrotlet, and Blue Black Grassquit. Various wintering neotropic migrants use this area as well. Once on the boat we will keep an eye for Boat-billed Heron and Rufous-necked Woodrail. Upon entering the open lagoon we will encounter a mix of shorebirds and egrets and Anhinga. Further exploration into the edge of the mangroves may provide looks at Northern Waterthrush and American Redstart. Following lunch back in PV, we will cross town again for late afternoon forest birding south of Conchas Chinas. Green and San Blas Jays as well as Golden-crowned Emerald may be among the birds we find. Night in Conchas Chinas.
Day 3: Today we leave the coast to head south. Just after dawn, near Boca de Tomatlan, we will see the swirling masses of White-collared Swifts as they leave their night roosts on the cliffs high above. Heading further south, we arrive at the PV Botanical Gardens. The trails here provide us with opportunities to find Fan-tailed Warbler, White-throated Thrush, Ivory-billed Woodcreeper, and our only chance for Mexican Hermit. Another highlight of this stop is the nesting Military Macaws that we will be able to see at close range. After lunch, afternoon birding will be in pine/oak habitat along the Sierra Paraiso Rd.explore the grounds of Rancho Primavera, one of the birding highlights of West Mexico. The birding options are many with numerous trails, a pond, and a nearby stream to keep us busy. Lilac-crowned Parrot, Orange-billed Nightingale Thrush, Golden Vireo, Black-vented Oriole, Russet-crowned Motmot, and Rosy Thrush Tanager are all likely sightings. The latter is a poorly named species that acts like a catbird but sports an arresting magenta breast and belly. Lunch will be on the plaza in nearby El Tuito. After lunch we will return to Primavera birding areas not covered in the am. Late afternoon, we will bird the Provincia Road where pine specialties such as Painted Redstart, Black-headed Siskin, and Acorn Woodpecker occur. Warbler flocks can roam this area as well. At dusk we will play for Eared Poorwill and Whiskered Screech Owl before heading back to Rancho Primavera.
Day 4: After breakfast, during which we may hear Collared Forest Falcon calling in the distance, we begin our descent to the coast. Along the Bioto Road we hope to find Boat-billed Flycatcher, Fan-tailed Warbler, Gray-crowned Woodpecker, and Louisiana Waterthrush among others. We will continue toward the coast through thorn forest habitat possibly encountering White-throated Magpie Jay, Black-capped Vireo, and White-bellied Wren along the way. After arriving at Casa Jardin, our oasis for two nights on the coast at Mayto, we will take a break to savor our first real experience of the Pacific Ocean. Late afternoon will find us getting acquainted with some of the coastal scrub locals such as Blue-black Grassquit, White-collared Seedeater, and the brilliant Orange-breasted Bunting.
Day 5: We head north this morning to a remote part of the Cabo Corrientes near Corrales, the furthest west point in the state of Jalisco. Stops in quality thorn forest habitat may reveal Blue Bunting, Pale-billed Woodpecker, Citreoline Trogon, and many wintering North American warblers. On the rugged side road to Chacala we have found Lesser Ground Cuckoo, Colima Pygmy Owl, and some shyer raptors such as Laughing Falcon and Crane Hawk. Early evening, back at Casa Jardin, there will be time for beach walks or just relaxing on the portal overlooking the lush grounds of the hotel.
Day 6: Heading south along the coast of the Cabo Corrientes, we will stop at Esterito Boquitas. This lagoon has a great mix of ducks, gulls, herons, terns, and shorebirds. Among others we may find Collared Plover, Stilt Sandpiper, Roseate Spoonbill, Wood Stork, and Peregrine Falcon causing alarm among the gathered throngs. Heading further south we will bird coastal forest with targets such as Red-breasted Chat and more territories of Rosy Thrush Tanager. Around the Cruz de Loretto area we have the chance for wintering White-throated Flycatcher and Painted Buntings. When we arrive in the coastal town of Perula, we may see both species of boobies, Brown and Blue-footed, foraging close to shore. Night at Casa Punta Perula
Day 7: We are off early to bird the Rio Cuixmala a river bordering Biosfera Cuixmala, a preserve set up in the 1970’s. This riparian corridor gives us a chance to see many herons and egrets, including Bare-throated Tiger Heron. Great Black Hawk is a possibility here as well as eastern species such as Orchard Oriole and thorn forest species such as Black-capped Gnatcatcher at the extreme southern end of its range. Following lunch we will continue south to the Selva Melaque. There, in Ejido Ingenios, we have our best chance for Flammulated Flycatcher as well as another spot for Red-crowned Ant Tanager. Late afternoon we will bird the mangroves near our hotel in Manzanilla seeing Anhingas and other mangrove specialists.
Day 8: Heading further south along the coast, we will bird the Tamarindo Road with Lilac-crowned Parrot, Roadside Hawk, and Bat Falcon all possible. Descending from the Selva Melaque, we will bird Laguna del Tule which hosts abundant Northern Jacana, Purple and Common Gallinule, and small numbers of Ruddy Crake. Late afternoon we will head east to the marshes on the Manzanillo Airport road(dipping into the state of Colima). Here we have our best chance for Snail Kite, Limpkin, wintering Dickcissel, and Ruddy-breasted Seedeater. Night Hotel Delfin, Barra de Navidad.
Day 9: Leaving the coast we will head due north into the highlands around Autlan de Navarro. Foothill stops will include Barranca el Choncho and Cuzalapa. Before crossing the highest pass, we will bird Laguna Rosario literally beside Highway 80 that we are traveling on. Fulvous Whistling Ducks may be scattered among the hundreds of their Black-bellied cousins. Coastal species such as Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Sork venture inland here to mix with more altiplano species such as Northern Harrier. On our 2018 stop here, three fenceposts in a row showcased an Osprey, Tricolored Heron, and a White-faced Ibis.
Once we cross the mountains, we descend into the city of Autlan, elevation around 3,000'. Late afternoon birding will include attempts for the very local Banded Quail and White-tailed Hawk. Night Hotel Autlan.
Day 10: No birding trip to Mexico is complete without a microwave tower road explore. Today we ascend Puerto Los Mazos into prime oak habitat. Our main, and perhaps only, chance to see the very local and endemic hummingbird, Mexican Woodnymph, as well as Golden-crowned Warbler, Rusty Sparrow, and Arizona Woodpecker. We even have a shot at a wintering Colima Warbler here. As we will spend the day here we may add Amethyst-throated, Magnificent, and Berylline Hummingbirds, Green Jay, White-striped Woodcreeper, and the elusive Singing Quail. Late afternoon we will do some additional local birding around Autlan, hopefully adding Mexican Parrotlet and Golden-fronted Woodpecker. Night Hotel Autlan.
Day 11: We depart in darkness to head up to the Las Joyas Estacion Cientifica in the Manantlan Biosphere Preserve with our stellar local guide, Siux Diaz. This sanctuary hosts am amazing bird and plant diversity. Our full day here gives us much to explore and see. Crested Guan (one of the few remaining spots in W. Mexico where these turkey cousins survive), Bumblebee, Blue-throated, White-eared, and Calliope Hummingbirds, Long-tailed Wood Partridge, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Smoky-brown Woodpecker, Chestnut-sided Shrike Vireo, Gray-breasted Woodwren, Russet and Ruddy-capped Nightingale Thrushes, Golden-browed Warbler, Red-headed Tanager, Elegant Euphonia, Red Warbler, Collared Towhee, Green-striped Brushfinch, and Audubon's Oriole. On our 2018 trip, a juvenile Ornate Hawk Eagle, fledged the year before, was still present. Night Hotel Autlan.
Day 12: We head further north, stopping at yet another microondas (microwave tower)-San Francisco. Here we hope to see the endemic, and handsome, Black-chested Sparrow at the extreme west edge of its range. Other options here include Lesser Roadruner, Short-tailed and Zone-tailed Hawks, and Baltimore Oriole. In the oaks on top of the ridge we may find Hepatic Tanager, Bridled Titmouse, and a chance for Gray-barred Wren. After lunch we have our long drive to the historic pueblo of San Sebastian del Oeste. Night La Galerita.
Day 13: Our last day of highland birding takes us to Cerro La Bufa. A cobblestone road takes us to the summit of this granite massif at almost 7,600 feet. We may add several hummingbird species, Spotted Wren, Transvolcanic Jay, Scott's Oriole, Pine Flycatcher, Mexican Violetear, Red-faced Warbler, Yellow-eyed Junco, and Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer along the way. Afternoon back in San Sebastian will be free time to wander the streets and shops of this Spanish colonial town that looks like it may have two hundred years ago. Night La Galerita
Day 14: We are off early for the 1.5 hour drive to the airport to catch our flights back out to the states. We will do some roadside birding including the Soyatan road where we may add Rufous-bellied Chachalaca and Bright-rumped Attila. Adios Jalisco.