Copper Canyon, El Fuerte, Alamos Itinerary
This is the itinerary for the tour dates: March 20-April 02, 2023
Day 1: Today we leave Santa Fe on our way to the Arizona/Mexico border. Anyone flying into Tucson should arrive before 1pm local time. Our nights stay will be just east of Nogales AZ at Hacienda Corona. We will have some evening birding with both Abert's Towhee, Vermilion Flycatcher and Hooded Oriole all possible.
DAY 2: We are off for our 5 hour drive to San Carlos, Sonora. After lunch we will bird a few coastal locations. Estuary highlights may include Roseate Spoonbill, Elegant Tern, and Ridgeway's Rail while a survey of the bay will likely find Magnificent Frigatebird, Blue-footed Booby, and a late wintering Pacific Loon. Near dusk we will visit the treatment ponds behind the marina for ducks, shorebirds, and Black-bellied Whistling Duck. Night at Los Jitos.
Day 3: Our birding begins with a half day in and around San Carlos for desert birding. Desert finds may include wintering Gray Vireo, Costa's Hummingbird, and Brewer's Sparrow as well as residents such as Gilded Flicker, Cactus Wren, and Rufous-winged Sparrow. In the afternoon we will make the 3.5 hour drive to Alamos, the base for our tropical deciduous forest birding for the next three days. Late afternoon at the lodge may afford us our first looks at foothill regulars such as Thick-billed Kingbird and Elegant Quail. Night at El Pedregal
Day 4: This morning we will hike the nearby Aduana Arroyo.We will encounter some additional tropical deciduous forest denizens such as White-tipped Dove, Elegant Trogon, and Rufous-bellied Chacahlaca and add specialties such as Russet-crowned Motmot, and Scrub Euphonia. We have a decent chance for the scarce Lilac-crowned Parrot as well. After lunch we will relax under the palapa at El Pedregal and watch the feeders for Streak-backed Oriole, Varied Bunting and Plain-capped Starthroat among others. In the late afternoon, we head to the outskirts of town, to the Alamos arroyo for chances for Purplish-backed Jay and White-fronted Parrot. After dinner we may try for Western Screech Owl and Buff-collared Nightjar at the lodge. Night: El Pedregal.
Day 5: Today is our day trip to Reserva Monte Mojino, a preserve east of Alamos owned by Nature and Culture International, along the headwaters of the Rio Cuchujaqui. Numerous foothill species at the extreme north end of their range can be encountered here including Military Macaw, Linneated Woodpecker, and Orange-billed Nightengale Thrush. We will certainly find the icon of the foothill forests, Black-throated Magpie Jay, as well as regulars such as Happy Wren and Squirrel Cuckoo. Night at El Pedregal.
Day 6: This morning we depart Alamos, and head south for the coast at Yavaros. This sprawling estuary will be our primary birding for the day. Thousands of shorebirds as well as numerous gulls, terns, herons, and egrets use this area. We hope to add many species here including Red Knot, Ruddy Turnstone, Wilson's Plover, thousands of Marbled Godwits, Gull-billed Tern, and Brant. Late afternoon birding around El Fuerte may produce local specialties such as Grayish Saltator and Cinnamon-rumped Seedeater. Night: Hotel El Fuerte
Day 7: This morning we are off to catch the east-bound train into the heart of the Copper Canyon. The four and a half hour train ride gradually ascends through some of the most spectacular canyon country on the planet. Early afternoon finds us at the Bahuichivo Station at an elevation of 5900 feet. Following lunch at nearby Hotel Paraiso del Oso, we will explore the pine oak habitat adjacent to the lodge. Species such as Brown-backed Solitaire and White-striped Woodcreeper occur regularly a short walk from the lodge while the stone wall behind the lodge is home to a family of Spotted Wrens. Following dinner at the lodge, there will be an optional excursion to look for Whiskered Screech Owl. Night: Hotel Paraiso del Oso (www.mexicohorse.com)
Day 8: Today we board the lodge’s van for an adventure that will take us to the bottom of the nearby Barranca de Urique. First we must climb over the 7500’ Mesa del Arturo. In the high pine forest there we expect to have close views of Mountain Trogon, Crescent-chested Warbler, Painted Redstart and Olive Warbler. As we descend into the canyon itself, the vegetation quickly changes. In the pine oak zone that we will first pass through, we may see Scott’s Oriole, Red-headed Tanager and White-eared Hummingbird. Following lunch in Urique (elevation 1900’) we will head north of town into a lush canyon along the Naranjo Road. Species such as Flame-colored Tanager, Black-vented Oriole, Colima Pygmy Owl, Blue Mockingbird, and White-throated Thrush can be found here. Night: Hotel Escondido, Urique.
Day 9: Today’s morning excursion takes us 20 minutes south of town to the nearby village of Guapalaina. As we need an early start, we will skip breakfast in town and survive for the morning on granola bars and the like. There we will hike into a dramatic side canyon called Arroyo Hacienda. In recent years, we have had some remarkable sightings in this area including Military Macaw, Lilac-crowned Parrot,Gray Silky, Golden Vireo, Five-striped Sparrow, and Berylline Hummingbird. With canyon walls rising steeply hundreds of feet above us, this is surely one of the most visually stunning stops on the tour. After lunch back in Urique, we begin our mile vertical ascent up out of the canyon. In the late afternoon we will explore the nearby El Cajon for Slate-throated Redstart and possible Pine Flycatcher. Night: Paraiso del Oso.
Day 10: Following breakfast at the lodge we are off to the Rio Cuiteco, a lush side canyon near the town of Bahuichivo. During our morning birding, we have an opportunity to see Gray-collared Becard, Gray-crowned Woodpecker, Black-headed Siskin, Rusty Sparrow, Rufous-capped Brushfinch, American Dipper, Russet Nightingale Thrush, and the scarce Hooded Grosbeak. We even have a chance for Eared Quetzal. After lunch in the field we will continure higher to the Divisadero area. Both Magnificent and Blue-throated Hummingbirds frequent the feeders here. On our return to Paraiso del Oso we will have roadside birding for high altitude dwellers such as Townsend's Solitaire and Pygmy Nuthatch. Night back at Hotel Paraiso del Oso.
Day 11: Our last morning to bird the pine/oak habitat. We may add species such as Buff-breasted Flycatcher, and Red-naped Sapsucker. After lunch we are on the westbound train to El Fuerte. Our night is at Hotel El Fuerte where we have a chance to observe Pauraques from the hotel roof. Night Hotel El Fuerte.
Day 12: This morning birding east of town along the Rio Fuerte, we have the chance to see Elegant Quail, Bare-throated Tiger Heron, Northern Jacana, Great Kiskadee, and a roost of Mexican Parrotlets. Then we are heading west with a stop in the agricultural fields west of El Fuerte for Orchard Oriole, Rose-throated Becard, and a possible encounter with Yellow-winged Cacique. Another 3 hour drive brings us back to San Carlos. We may have time to bird the local sewage ponds at dusk with the chance for species such as Groove-billed Ani, Least Grebe, Common Gallinule, and Bonaparte’s Gull. Night: Hotel Los Jitos
Day 13: Today is our only pelagic venture of the trip. We will head a few miles out into the Sea of Cortez. In the past, this trip has produced looks at both endemic storm petrels, Least and Black, as well as two shearwaters, Black-vented and Pink-footed. As migration is in swing, we have chances for other pelagics such as Craveri’s Murrelet, Red-necked Phalarope, Sabine’s Gull, Red-billed Tropicbird, and Pomarine Jaeger. Following the boat trip we will hit the road north for the US. A desert stop north of Hermosillo is a regular spot for Bendire's Thrasher. Our night will be at Hacienda Corona in Nogales, AZ.
Day 14: Before we drop off those flying out of Tucson, we will bird the grounds of Hacienda Corona seeing local regulars such as Gray Hawk and Lucy’s Warbler. After our stop at the airport, the remainder of the group will have the 7.5 hour drive back to Santa Fe.
Cost: $3,150 per person double occupancy: $400 single supplement