Jalisco with WingsWest Birding
FEB.15-FEB.28, 2022: 14 days, 13 nights
Overview: This tour begins and ends in Puerto Vallarta and circles the western 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. Many Mexico endemics will be encountered and we will find around 300 species.
Price $3295 double occupancy; $400 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 the nearby Comfort Inn. Our afternoon and evening will be spent birding coastal lagoons and estuaries. Birding highlights will include Anhinga, Limpkin, various shorebirds, herons and egrets. On the road to Boca de Tomates we may enounter Elegant Quail at the southern edge of its range. Night in Puerto Vallarta.
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. Further exploration into the edge of the mangroves may provide looks at wintering Northern Waterthrush and American Redstart. Following lunch back in PV, we will cross town and begin our journey into the Sierra del Tuito with roadside birding stops, including a pine oak venue for Military Macaw, on our way to Rancho Primavera, our base for the next 6 days.
Day 3: Today we begin to 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, Gray-collared Becard, 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 will venture just 7 KM west of El Tuito to the Bioto Road where we hope to find Boat-billed Flycatcher, Ivory-billed Woodcreeper, Gray-crowned Woodpecker, and Louisiana Waterthrush among others. As we descend toward the village of Bioto, the habitat begins to change but not before we enter a stretch of old growth forest with majestic majote trees. Humid forest species such as Fan-tailed Warbler and Mexican Hermit are on our radar here. Back at Rancho Primavera for the afternoon, we will watch the feeders by our cabins for Blue Mockingbird, White-throated Thrush, and Rufous-crowned Motmot, assuming our guide remembers to buy fruit as we pass through El Tuito. Dusk is always an event worth taking in (with insect repellent) at the main pond. Various herons come in to roost and a Ringed Kingfisher may still be rattling. After dark, a Northern Potoo has been known to shine its eyes back at us from its favorite fence post perch.
Day 5: We head north this morning to a remote part of the Cabo Corrientes near Pizota, the furthest west point in the state of Jalisco. This is one of the last unspoiled jungle habitats on this stretch of the west Mexico coast. Amazingly, both hawk-eagles (Black and Black-and-white) still find enough suitable habitat here. We also may find Mexican Woodnymph, a rare limited range endemic. As the habitat is still intact, we may find other raptors such as Laughing Falcon. After an early afternoon break back at Rancho Primavera, we will bird the river at the property entrance where there often is an entertaining mix even in the afternoon. In past years we have seen Chestnut-sided Warbler here three times and, in Feb of 2021, encountered a Wood Thrush. More fruit feeder watching in the late pm. At dusk we may be treated to the haunting calls of Thicket Tinamou.
Day 6: Heading south out of the mountains in 45 minutes we enter an agricultural area at the base of the foothills around Gargantillo. I first birded here in winter 2021 and was amazed at the diversity. Most of the irrigation ditches are shrub lined and hold a wealth of wintering songbirds. At sunrise, we will hear flocks of Dickcissel flying over and view them in thickets along field borders. Lincoln's and Grasshopper Sparrows are numerous as well as both species of seedeaters, Ruddy-breasted and Cinnamon-rumped. Wetter areas are frequented by Wood Storks and Bare-throated Tiger Herons. We will pack a lunch today as we want to allow time to bird a fish farm in the early pm. Both whistling duck species are here as well as Limpkin, Snail Kite, and Purple Gallinule. Late afernoon we will return to Rancho Primavera. After dusk we will venture out for Mottled Owl.
Day 7: Heading to a nearby ranch also owned by Rancho Primavera, El Salto, we will get to experience more unspoiled habitat. Green Jay, Crested Guan and Red-crowned Ant Tanager are among the many species we may encounter this morning. Afternoon birding will be on the main grounds of Ranch Primavera.
Day 8: Leaving the coastal highlands, we will head southwest to the coast. Roadside birding on our way to Villa del Mar can be very productive. As we drop in elevation we will enter the domain of species such as White-throated Magpie Jay, White-bellied Wren, and Citreoline Trogon. After lunch at El Cielito, our hotel for the next two nights, we will head to Laguna de Ipala south along the coast. Depending on water levels, we may find a great mix of shorebirds, herons, and egrets including Roseate Spoonbill and Collared Plover. The thickets around the lagoon are usually filled with resident and wintering songbirds. At dusk we have another chance for Northern Potoo.
Day 9: We will explore north along the coast today to the village of Corrales. Lots of coastal thicket birds including Orange-breasted, Painted, and Blue Buntings. We have seen Hook-billed Kite, Roadside Hawk, and Crane Hawk along this stretch. Pale-billed Woodpecker and Ferruginous Pygmy Owl are likely as well as a chance for Lesser Ground Cuckoo. Typically there is a group of Military Macaws just a short distance up the Chacala Road andwe have seen the endemic Flammulated Flycatcher here. On our return to El Cielito, we will bird the esterito at Aquiles Serdan.
Day 10: Well, every birding tour seems to have a somewhat onerous travel day. That's today. We will have about 5 hours of driving to get from the coast to the mountains east of Puerto Vallarta. Lots of roadside birding, I promise. Lunch at a very authentic Mexican family owned restaurant. But we will arrive in a sort of paradise, San Sebastian del Oeste. We will be at the superb cabanas of Las Galeritas for the next 4 nights.
Day 11: Our first 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.
This is a long birding day. Night Las Galeritas
Day 12: We will bird closer to San Sebastian today, including the narrow lanes around our hotel. Rusty-crowned Ground Sparrow, Rufous-bellied Chachalaca, Golden-crowned Warbler, and Gray-crowned Yellowthroat are just some of our hoped for finds today. Afternoon 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 Las Galeritas.
Day 13: We need another ascent of La Bufa to do it justice. Here are some more of our possibilities. Bumblebee Hummingbird, Amethyst-throated Mountain Gem, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Smoky brown Woodpecker, Flame-colored and Red-headed Tanagers, Aztec Thrush, Long-tailed Wood Partridge, Golden-browed Warbler, Audubon's Oriole, Green-striped Brushfinch. Early to bed tonight for a travel day manana. Night Las Galeritas.
Day 14: Roadside birding as we descend out of the highlands to the airport. Hopefully a memorable trip to the great state of Jalisco. Adios.