West Mexico: September 16th - 28th 2006

Published by Christian Artuso (chartuso AT gmail.com)

Participants: Christian Artuso (CA) chartuso@hotmail.com, Kyle Elliott (KE), Amber Robinson (AR)


We visited western Mexico and Veracruz prior to the 2006 North America Ornithological Conference in Veracruz. This report deals mainly with western Mexico, although we briefly discuss a few sites visited in the centre and the east on our way to the conference. From September 16th – 28th we saw 325 species in western Mexico. From September 29th – October 8th we added 125 new species in the centre and east. Some photos from this trip are viewable at http://artuso.sky.prohosting.com

September turned out to be a rather poor choice for time of year, as many birds were still north, or still at high elevations, or at least not calling (missed Eared Quetzal and Aztec Thrush). It was extremely hot in the lowlands and birding activity after the early morning was minimal at sites like San Blas, though there was relief to be had in the mountains. There were generally few flowering blossoms and hummingbirds were hard to come by even at several well-known hummingbird “meadows”. For Christian in particular the biggest disappointment was that there was very little calling from owls and other nightbirds, which was usually confined to the predawn period. Nonetheless, there were a few benefits to birding a this time of year, especially seeing nesting Bare-throated Tiger-Heron and Boat-billed Herons from a few feet away, finding 16 calling Balsas Screech-Owls in a single night (the one exception to the silent nights), and the presence of some passage migrants such as shorebirds which fattened the trip list. Quail were easily seen throughout the trip, presumably due to the presence of juveniles. We had hoped that the pelagic birding might be good off the coast of San Blas but, we only managed 2 species of shearwater and the nesting boobies and tropicbird… it may have been too early for some of the storm-petrels and other goodies mentioned by Howell.

We rented a Chrysler Neon from GOLD at Mexico City airport, which we nicknamed “Tapa camino” (the Mexican word for nightjar, which literally translates as “hit the road””) for its ability to bottom-out on every tope (speed bump) it crossed, for $1000 for 23 days. It turned out this was a poor choice of rental car company and they lied to us about the deductible and then tried to charge the rental fee to our credit card after we had already paid in cash (our advice is to stick with the better known companies).

Things have changed since Howell’s day in Mexico so some more recent logistic information is included below, organized by site in alphabetical order:


Barranca Rancho Liebre: The trailhead mentioned by Howell is at km 201.5, not at 200.5, near two houses (the restaurant is no longer in business). However, there is now an easily drivable jeep track that starts opposite a cabin selling oil for vehicles less than a kilometre before Howell’s spot (near km 200.5) which will take you up to an open area with large tents on concrete bases (rentable from Pronatura). Eared Quetzal may be more reliable at Cabañas Coscomate, another ecoresort with more cabañas, which is apparently signposted from the highway approximately 80 km inland from Barranca Rancho Liebre (towards Durango) and roughly half way between Durango and El Salto.

Laguna de Quelele: Access is no longer as in Howell’s day. Access is now off the main road by a sing to the “crocodilario”…

Playa del Oro road: Not signposted and rather difficult to find, although Howell’s kilometer measure are approximately correct. A washout near the start of the road made us further doubt we were on the right road. This road is impassable except in a very sturdy 4x4. There are many more than two sidetracks but the best section seems to be a few kilometers back from the beach.

Volcan de Fuego: The Volcanoes were difficult to find from Guzman: after a few unsuccessful tries we turned left (northwest) prior to the Laguna, and then followed the signs to the Technical College, following some directions we found on the web at: http://maybank.tripod.com/Mexico/Colima-01-2001.htm, http://home.tiscali.nl/jvanderw/mex99/mexrep99.html, and http://maybank.tripod.com/Mexico/Colima-volcano.htm). It is still a bit confusing though and the signs to the “parque nacional” just confused us even more because the seemed to put you back on the toll road. If you’re on the right road you go by the prison (not in use?) and come to a small stall with a sign saying information (they will give you a small pamphlet about the Volcano). From the information booth veer right until you see the sign on your left for the “Parque Nacional Volcán de Colima” The road was not in great condition; we were told it was impassable at about 10 km but we made it up OK—another option is to rent a jeep in Ciudad Guzman. The road goes up very high. You have to pay 10 pesos to continue to the top at a gate after about 20km or so. For the alternative route to the hummingbird meadow” you continue on this same road past the sign for “Parque Nacional Volcán de Colima” until the top of a pass where there is a small track by a house that goes downhill over a small metal bridge and down into a gully before starting to climb. You will see some signs for the microwave tower. The start of this road was in atrocious condition (though it improved higher up) and should not be attempted in anything but a jeep. The hummingbird meadow was all but dead in September and this road offered little that the other did not.


Sept. 16: Having arrived just before midnight (technically on the 15th), we rented the car and made it out of Mexico City with a few wrong turns in the middle of the night. There was little traffic at that time, but many people were in the streets as it was Mexican Independence Day. It took roughly 15 hours to make it to the Colima Volcanoes mostly via the libre (non-toll) roads. Highlights of this long drive included a Lesser Roadrunner by the side of the road a few hours from Ciudad Guzman, a female Lucifer Hummingbird, Loggerhead Shrike, Blue Grosbeak, and many Grey-crowned Yellowthroat. A quick stop at the Laguna near Guzman brought up a Common Moorhen and Black Tern, but it was otherwise very busy with fishing. After wasting a great deal of time trying to find the right road, we arrived at Volcano Nieve in time to find some good warbler flocks on the lower slopes and camped the night at about 3000 m. The volcanoes were most birdy prior to about 6 or 7 km, where the forest was still fragmented. We drove until we found flocks, finding: Thicket Tinamou (heard only at dusk); Red-billed Pigeon; Acorn Woodpecker; Mountain Trogon; Greater Pewee; Pine, Buff-breasted and Vermilion Flycatchers; Spotted and Grey-barred Wrens; Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush; Eastern Bluebird; Olive, Red, Red-faced, Crescent-chested, Orange-crowned, Tennessee, Blackburnian, Nashville, Townsend’s, Hermit, and Black-throated Grey Warblers; Slate-throated and Painted Redstarts; Canyon Collared & Towhees; Rufous-capped Brush-Finch, etc.

Sept. 17: We woke 0500 and hiked down hill to where the road forks about 2500 m, where we heard Mexican Whip-poor-will and Stygian Owl right at dawn. We then hiked up to the gates at 3300 m, where we were charged nothing to just poke around. On the way up (above 3000 m) we had 2 sightings of Long-tailed Wood-Partridge (plus a third on the way down); Berryline, Bumblebee, White-eared and Magnificent Hummingbirds (the latter two being the most common, although there weren’t very many hummers around and most were in the meadows in the last km before the summit); Grey-breasted Woodwren; Sinaloa, Bewick’s and Brown-throated Wrens; Pine Siskin, Collared Towhee, Green-striped Brushfinch, Yellow-eyed Junco, the usual assortment of warblers and Cinnamon-belled Flowerpiercer. Below 2500 m, at about midday, we picked out a Dwarf Vireo in a flock, enjoyed great looks at a Mountain Trogon, and Christian whistled in a Mountain Pygmy-Owl. Another flock, lower down, had Arizona Woodpecker, Grey-barred and Spotted Wrens, Grey-collared Becard, Hairy Woodpecker, White-breasted and Pygmy Nuthatches, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and Green-striped and Rufous-capped Brushfinches. Greater Swallow-tailed Swift and Pine and Buff-breasted Flycatchers even further down. Perhaps in retrospect we should have tried to go higher up to look for Aztec thrush, although some parts of the road made us nervous about getting through and the birdiest areas were well below 3000 m.

We camped at the base of the “other road” to Volcan Nieve (near the pass on the highway) after discovering to our disappointment that the road was completely impassable by passenger vehicle (and a tree fall near the base would have prevented any vehicle from passing, although it was removed the next morning by a crew). We followed a road down through a gully about 300 m after the start of the road, and in the evening it had many Vaux’s Swifts, Mountain Trogon, Tufted Flycatcher, White-striped Wood-creeper; Brown-backed Solitaires (many—feeding in fruiting trees); Bushtit; Rufous-capped, Golden-browed, Olive and Red-faced Warblers; Hepatic Tanager, Collared Towhee; etc.

Sept. 18: The next morning, we hiked up to the hummingbird meadow, once again hearing a Stygian Owl giving a single hoot right at dawn and then shutting up. The meadow itself was a big disappointment as we only found White-eared and a few Bumblebee Hummingbirds and Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercers. Long-tailed Wood Partridge and Thicket Tinamou were heard only, but we saw Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Acorn Woodpecker, Red-shafted Flicker, White-striped Woodcreeper, Grey-breasted Jay, Pine Flycatcher, Hutton’s and Dwarf Vireo (right at the meadow), Grey-breasted Woodwren, Happy Wren, plus the usual assortment from the previous day. The trail was not very birdy.

We left at 1pm for the Microondas Road near Colima, where we camped at a pull-off just below the top. Banded quail flew over the car on the way. There were many people jogging up and down the road, and the side trails were very busy. The place was not very birdy, although we picked up West Mexican Chachalaca, Colima Pygmy-Owl, Pale-billed Woodpecker, Grey-breasted Martin, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Rufous-naped Wren, White-throated Magpie-Jay, Orange-breasted and Blue Buntings, Black-chested Sparrow, Yellow-winged Cacique, and a trip exclusive Red-breasted Chat. The birdiest area was just over half way along, especially along the side trails. A highlight was 16 Balsas Screech-Owls, heard and/or seen either all along the Microondas Road or the road to the small village prior to the Microondas Road. Perhaps they breed this time of year? The owls approached regularly within a few feet. We also got brief looks at a Buff-collared Nightjar flushed off the road and heard 2 Mottled Owls.

Sept 19. Even in the early morning Microondas was very quiet, so we drove through Colima to La Maria (getting lost along the way and asking for directions often). La Maria was very birdy, especially at El Jacal (which is no longer signed) and later pull offs (check out the adjacent wash at Howell’s “bamboo pull-off”. Highlights included good views of Banded Quail near La Jacal, Grey Hawk, Squirrel Cuckoo, Vaux’s Swift, Broad-billed and Berryline Hummingbirds, Golden-crowned Emerald, Thick-billed Kingbird, Greenish Elaenia, Tufted and Dusky-capped Flycatchers, Greater Pewee, Golden Vireo, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Rusty-crowned Ground Sparrow, Orange-billed Nightingale Thrush, Yellow Grosbeak; Happy, Spotted and Sinaloa Wrens, White-throated Thrush, Blue Mockingbird, Smoky-brown Woodpecker; Dickey’s, Black-vented and Hooded Oriole; and Common Raven. We left at 1pm (in the rain) for the Manzanillo Airport. Arriving near dusk, we found Spot-breasted Oriole and San Blas Jay easily near the airport, as well as many waterbirds, a juvenile King Rail down to 3 metres; Lesser Nighthawk, an unexpected Snail Kite, Louisiana Waterthrush, Greyish Saltator, etc. We camped along a dirt road near the Playa del Oro road that a local said was good for nightjars (but we didn’t see any).

Sept. 20. We headed to the Playa del Oro road in the early morning but were soon forced to walk as the road was abysmal. We found some good species at the start of the track including Lineated and Pale-billed Woodpeckers, Mexican Parrotlets, Mexican Hermit, White-bellied Wren, Cinnamon-rumped Seedeater, and Streak-backed Oriole. We were lucky to get a lift one way from some locals in a pickup who had a hard time getting through a few rough spots. The birdiest section was, as indicated by others we believe, between the two side roads (although there are more than 2 side roads so we’re not sure if we interpreted other trip reports correctly). Kyle lucked into a Lesser Ground Cuckoo near the beach (unfortunately no-one else got to see it) but there were other goodies including Lilac-crowned Parrot (flyover), Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl (Christian attracted it by whistling), Collared Forest Falcon, 2 Flammulated Flycatchers, Yellow-green Vireo, Happy Wren, Black-capped Gnatcatcher, Tropical Parula.

Leaving at noon, we passed the following birds on the way to San Blas via a stop at the mangroves north of Puerto Vallarta called Laguna de Quelele (the construction of a new “ecoresort” prevented us from reaching the mangroves described in Howell, but we were directed by locals to another stretch): Elegant Quail (a very cooperative covey on the dirt road), Belted and Amazon Kingfishers (from hwy at bridges), Common Pauraque, American Oystercatcher, Short-tailed and Gray Hawk, Bridled and Black Terns, the usual variety of water birds and our first Roseate Spoonbill of the trip, Boat-billed Heron (spotlighted at dusk), Magnificent Frigate bird, San Blas Jay, Rufous-backed Robin, & Spotted Wren. We camped that night on a dirt road off the highway just outside San Blas.

Sept. 21. Spent the morning at Lower Singayta (now 30 pesos per person), which was quite birdy. Highlights included: Rufous-bellied Chachalaca, Elegant Quail, Citreoline and Elegant Trogons, Mexican Parrotlets (dozens feeding in a fruiting tree), Cinnamon Hummingbird, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Happy and White-bellied Wrens, Tropical and Thick-billed Kingbirds, Black-throated Magpie Jay, Sinaloa Crow, & Masked Tityra. An evening boat ride with Chencho was great—highly recommend him as he really knows his birds — with many close up views of water birds and others, the most noteworthy being Bare-throated Tiger-Heron with two chicks in a nest directly above the boat (as well as close views of several others) and 100 Boat-billed Herons at a rookery, with some of the nests only a few feet away. We did our best not to get to close, but they seemed quite used to people. Other highlights included: Rufous-bellied Chachalaca, Squirrel Cuckoo, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Cinnamon Hummingbird, Purple Gallinule, Limpkin, Snail Kite (!), Laughing Falcon, etc. plus one the return leg we found 5 Northern Potoos, although only one was close enough for a photo. The boat ride cost $50 and was arranged by asking the people at the Garza Canela for Chencho. We stayed for $20 a night (for all three of us) at a small hotel two blocks from the main square. We avoided another hotel for the same price due to captive parrots, but didn’t realize until later the hotel we chose had a captive pelican chained to a small bathtub.

Sept. 22. We were supposed to meet a guide for a trip to Elephant Rock to see the tropicbirds, but he was over 45 minutes late due to high winds. Because we were unaware of this, we left and had a late morning birding trip to the Sewer Ponds Trail, where we found a cooperative pair of Russet-crowned Motmots along the first few hundred feet by the gate, and a trip exclusive White-throated Flycatcher. We also saw Elegant Quail, Citreoline Trogon, Killdeer, Short-tailed Hawk, Masked Tityra, Black-throated Magpie Jay, Rufous-backed Robin, Cinnamon-rumped Seedeater, Blue-black Grassquit and Stripe-headed Sparrow. At Mazantchen Bay and shrimp ponds, we spotted more Elegant Quail, Ringed Kingfisher, Cinnamon Hummingbird, Blue-footed and Brown Boobies, the usual waders including many spoonbills, a trip-exclusive Wilson’s Plover and 8 other shorebirds, Gull-billed and other Terns, Mangrove and Barn Swallows, Sinaloa Crow, Yellow-breasted Chat, etc. Very tough birding in the heat and the more secretive passerine like Mangrove Vireo eluded us as a result.

Sept. 23. We met our guide for Elephant rock at 6:30am. Around the rock, we had several tropicbirds, flying close overhead and landing high on the rock; both boobies and Heerman’s Gull. Heading due south for an hour, we dropped some cans of tuna in oil to try and attract storm-petrels—our guide said this was good location. No luck, but many flocks of Black Terns (with a few Elegant and 2 or 3 Sooty and Bridled further out), and with them many Black-vented and Audubon’s Shearwaters. A Mangrove Cuckoo flew into a tree right as we approached the dock. We left San Blas in the early afternoon and headed north. A stop at Mirador de las Aguillas from 1400-1600 came up with only a Cooper’s Hawk. Them we headed to Cerro de San Juan and we relieved to find the road easily passable. A few good birds on the way up included a Colima Pygmy-Owl (called in by Christian and seen well), our trip first Green Jays and Red-headed Tanagers as well as Spotted Wrens feeding juveniles but we didn’t have long to bird before dark. Our owling effort got off to a bad start when we got stuck on a soft shoulder and Christian fell 20 feet off the side only to be rescued (and scratched up good) by barbed wire. Some ever friendly and helpful Mexicans went and got a cable and pulled us out with about 6 people piled in the back of their van for weight... anyway, not to be deterred by a little blood sacrifice we owled on but it was totally dead - not so much as a peep - and we decided to drive out, Kyle driving with Christian spotlighting as you have to go very slow on Mexican dirt roads anyway. We had nearly reached the pavement when Christian detected a speck of red eye shine about 100 m away on a hillside... it took a while to maneuver closer and for everyone to get good enough views to confirm the ID, but amazingly it was an EARED POORWILL and it sat remarkably still for us! Maybe an offering to the gods is necessary to see this species because in just about the only trip report I found online where people saw this species, they got hopelessly lost on the same road we were on and ended up seeing the poorwill in a state of panic. We camped that night about 5 km up the road near a small dirt road heading to the left.

Sept. 24. Just before dawn we saw a pair of Whiskered Screech-Owl but once again a Stygian Owl was heard only once. Birds seen in the morning at Cerro de San Juan included: Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Squirrel Cuckoo, Berylline Hummingbird, Grey-collared and Rose-throated Becard, White-striped Woodcreeper, Plumbeous Vireo, Russet Nightingale-Thrush, Brown-backed Solitaire, Blue Mockingbird, many warblers, Red-headed Tanager, Black-headed Siskin and Lesser Goldfinch. As the morning birding slowed we headed north for the Durango Highway, seeing Harris’s Hawk and the usual assortment of waterbirds, plus Fulvous Whistling-Duck en route. A quick stop at Panuco Road produced Elegant Quail, Lesser Roadrunner (great looks), Orange-fronted Parakeet, Black-throated Magpie-Jay, Western Tanager, etc. The road to the Barranca is very windy, has many potholes and is very slow. We camped that night at the base of Barranca Rancho Liebre. Amber and Christian (independently) heard a Flammulated Owl calling along the stream.

Sept. 25. Morning birding at Barranca produced several flocks of the gorgeous Tufted Jays and great looks at both Elegant and Mountain trogons but NO quetzal. Christian woke from a siesta to a fantastic fly-by of a pair of Military Macaws at eye level from a rocky lookout about 0.5 km down the valley following the small trail down from the lip. Other birds included: Ladder-backed and Arizona Woodpeckers, White-eared, Blue-throated, Bumblebee, and Magnificent Hummers; Dusky, Cordilleran, Tufted and Pine Flycatchers; Greater Peewee, White-striped and Ivory-billed Woodcreepers, Hutton’s and Plumbeous Vireos, Happy and Brown-throated Wren, Common Raven, Steller’s Jay, Russet Nightingale Thrush with juvenile, Mexican Chickadee, Bridled Titmouse; Flame-colored, Red-headed and Hepatic Tanagers; Rufous-capped and Green-striped Brushfinches (the latter lower down in the canyon), Yellow-eyed Junco, Red Crossbill, Painted and Slate-throated Redstarts, our first Grace’s Warbler and many other warblers including a race of Red Warbler with a grey cheek patch quite different to those at Volcan de Nieve with a white check patch. Thick-billed Parrots were heard only alas!

That afternoon we went down to the Pantitlan Road area to look for Purplish-backed Jays which we just could not seem to find anywhere (we had no idea they were so difficult). Instead we saw Elegant Quail, Orange-fronted Parakeet, Lilac-crowned Hummingbird, Black Swift, Citreoline Trogon, hundreds of vultures on electricity towers at dusk, a trip exclusive Bright-rumped Attila, Ash-throated, Nutting’s and Dusky-capped Flycatchers, Black-throated Magpie-Jay, Sinaloa Wren, Lucy’s Warbler, Yellow-winged Cacique, etc. We headed back up hill to sleep and to be ready for one more try for the quetzal the following morning, hearing a Vermiculated Screech-Owl en route at dusk, near “Rio Tecolote” (Screech Owl River). Traffic was bad, and we moved camp up higher on the trail up to the Barranca.

Sept. 26. This was supposed to be our last day at Barranca so we owled up hill at around 4.30am. Once again it was extremely quiet – nothing called at all but just before dawn Christian got the spotlight on a Stygian Owl as it flew very high through a clearing. It didn’t stick around unfortunately but in our efforts to track it down we found a Whiskered Screech Owl. We birded at La Barranca all day and added only a few new species including White-throated Swift and Crested Guan (heard then seen from the same lookout) but still no quetzal so we decided to give it one more try the next morning.

Sept. 27. Unsatisfied with our previous poor views of Stygian Owl, Christian owled up at 4am, again hearing nothing until right at dawn a Stygian Owl gave a single hoot from across the canyon. Determined to find it, he hike up and over and began a roost search, finding the owl after about two hours in a tall pine. While photographing the owl, a mob of Tufted Jays even came in. The “devil” stayed put all day too so Kyle and Amber also got to enjoy magnificent looks. By 11am we were ready to give up on the quetzal and head down when we met a guide from Pronatura Noroeste. He claimed to know a spot where the quetzal might be found so we decided to head up hill on more time. He showed us a new set of cabins on the west side of the barranca (beautiful site and great birding). He claimed Eared Quetzal was regularly seen around there, though we found none that afternoon. He also recommended a better place 80 km towards Durango — approximately half way between Durango and Salto — called Cabañas Coscomate (another ecoresort with more cabanas, which is apparently signposted from the highway) where he said quetzal was more reliable. Despite the failure to find the quetzal we at least had brief looks at a Mexican Whip-poor-will, a Blue Mockingbird, 3 White-naped Swifts (they’re HUGE!) and Christian photographed a grey fox.

Sept. 28. Morning at La Noria Road finally produced Purplish-backed Jay (where the road entered the hills) but it was a most tantalizing glimpse! Kyle was driving and there was nowhere to pullout when we heard a promising call. Christian and Amber jumped out and spotted one in a roadside thorn bush but by the time Kyle had parked the car the flock had moved off and so he thrashed his way through the thorn forest chasing them only to come across a large bull in a field in the middle of the forest that chased him back! We never saw another, though we did find Elegant Quail, Broad-billed and Violet-crowned Hummingbirds, Crested Caracara, Thick-billed Kingbird, Black-throated Magpie Jay, Grey-breasted Martin, Black-capped Gnatcatcher, Loggerhead Shrike, Rufous-back Thrush, Curve-billed Thrasher, Painted Bunting (the only time on the trip), Streak-backed and Hooded Oriole. That afternoon we took the toll highways through Guadalajara back to Temascaltepic near Mexico City. It took over 12 hours and cost close to 1000 pesos – ouch those cuotas really sting!

Species Lists

Site Abbreviations:

BRL: Barranca Rancho Liebre
C: Colima (Microondas las Cumbre, Laguna La Maria)
CSJ: Cerro San Juan
SB: San Blas area (including Singayta)
LAQ: Laguna de Quelele
LN: La Noria Road
M: coastal road to Mazatlan
MLC: Microondas la cumbre
PO: Playa del Oro
PR: Panuco Road and Pantitlan Road
PV: Puerto Vallarta & Manzanillo aeroport
VN: Volcan de Nieve

1. Crypturellus cinnamomeus Thicket Tinamou heard only VN
2. Ortalis wagleri Rufous-bellied Chachalaca common SB, ph
3. Ortalis poliocephala West Mexican Chachalaca common C, MLC ph
4. Penelope purpurascens Crested Guan
3 BRL (distant views in valley)
5. Dendrortyx macroura Long-tailed Wood-Partridge
4 VN, ph
6. Callipepla douglasii Elegant Quail common with juveniles SB, M, ph
7. Philortyx fasciatus Banded Quail common C, LAQ, ph
8. Dendrocygna bicolor Fulvous Whistling-Duck 2 M
9. Dendrocygna autumnalis Black-bellied Whistling-Duck very common all along coast, ph
10. Cairina moschata Muscovy Duck 2 in flight on SB boat ride
11. Anas platyryhncos diazi Mallard (Mexican Duck) several SB – M
12. Anas discors Blue-winged Teal several along coast
13. Anas clypeata Northern Shoveler 4 on coast road
14. Melanerpes formicivorus Acorn Woodpecker common at sites with pine/oak forest, ph
15. Melanerpes chrysogenys Golden-cheeked Woodpecker very common at most lowland sites, ph
16. Sphyrapicus varius Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1 VN
17. Picoides scalaris Ladder-backed Woodpecker common several sites
18. Picoides villosus Hairy Woodpecker VN, BRL
19. Picoides arizonae Arizona Woodpecker 4+ BRL
20. Veniliornis fumigatus Smoky-brown Woodpecker 1 Laguna la Maria (AR only), 1 CSJ
21. Colaptes auratus Northern Flicker several sites with pine/oak forest
22. Campephilus guatemalensis Pale-billed Woodpecker several C, PO, SB, ph
23. Trogon citreolus Citreoline Trogon few SB, PO, ph
24. Trogon mexicanus Mountain Trogon VN, CSJ, BRL, ph
25. Trogon elegans Elegant Trogon VN, BRL, ph
26. Momotus mexicanus Russet-crowned Motmot 3 SB (sewer ponds trail), ph
27. Megaceryle alcyon Belted Kingfisher common by water, ph
28. Megaceryle torquata Ringed Kingfisher 1 C (coastal road)
29. Chloroceryle amazona Amazon Kingfisher 1 C (coastal road)
30. Chloroceryle americana Green Kingfisher several PV, SB, ph
31. Coccyzus minor Mangrove Cuckoo 1 SB boat ride
32. Piaya cayana Squirrel Cuckoo common several sites, ph
33. Crotophaga sulcirostris Groove-billed Ani common roadside bird, ph
34. Morococcyx erythropygus Lesser Ground-Cuckoo 1 PO (KE only)
35. Geococcyx velox Lesser Roadrunner 1 C, 1 PR, ph
36. Ara militaris Military Macaw pair BRL, ph
37. Rhynchopsitta pachyrhyncha Thick-billed Parrot heard only below BRL (EN)
38. Forpus cyanopygius Mexican Parrotlet flock SB (lower Singayta), ph
39. Amazona finschi Lilac-crowned Parrot flock overhead PO (VU)
40. Cypseloides niger Black Swift small flock Durango Hwy below PR
41. Streptoprocne semicollaris White-naped Swift 3 BRL
42. Chaetura vauxi Vaux's Swift several flocks VN and elsewhere
43. Aeronautes saxatalis White-throated Swift one large flock BRL, ph
44. Panyptila santihieronymi Great Swallow-tailed Swift 3 lower portion VN
45. Phaethornis longirostris Western Long-tailed (Mexican) Hermit 1 only PO (CA only)
46. Chlorostilbon auriceps Golden-crowned Emerald 1 male C (Laguna La Maria), ph
47. Cynanthus latirostris Broad-billed Hummingbird common most lower sites, ph
48. Amazilia beryllina Berylline Hummingbird very common most lower sites, ph
49. Amazilia rutila Cinnamon Hummingbird common thorn forest C, PO
50. Amazilia violiceps Violet-crowned Hummingbird Pantitlan Road and La Noria Road
51. Lampornis clemenciae Blue-throated Hummingbird common CSJ, BRL
52. Basilinna leucotis White-eared Hummingbird common most higher sites, ph
53. Eugenes fulgens Magnificent Hummingbird common at most higher sites, ph
54. Calothorax lucifer Lucifer Hummingbird female en route to VN
55. Atthis heloisa Bumblebee Hummingbird several at higher sites
56. Otus flammeolus Flammulated Owl heard only BRL
57. Megascops seductus Balsas Screech-Owl 16 within a few hours MLC, (NT) ph
58. Megascops trichopsis Whiskered Screech-Owl 2 CSJ, 1 BRL
59. Megascops guatemalae Guatemalan (Vermiculated) Screech-Owl heard Durango Hwy, Cerro Elephante
60. Strix virgata Mottled Owl 4 heard only MLC
61. Glaucidium gnoma Mountain Pygmy-Owl heard at most higher sites, ph at VN
62. Glaucidium palmarum Colima Pygmy-Owl MLC, CSJ, ph
63. Glaucidium (brasilianum) ridgwayi Ridgway’s (Ferruginous) Pygmy-Owl common at lowland sites, ph at PO
64. Asio stygius Stygian Owl heard VN, CSJ, ph at roost at BRL, ph
65. Nyctibius jamaicensis Northern Potoo 5 on SB mangrove boat ride, ph
66. Chordeiles acutipennis Lesser Nighthawk many SB
67. Nyctidromus albicollis Common Pauraque very common all lowland sites, ph
68. Nyctiphrynus mcleodii Eared Poorwill 1 CSJ, ph
69. Caprimulgus ridgwayi Buff-collared Nightjar 1 seen MLC and another heard only
70. Caprimulgus arizonae Mexican Whip-poor-will 1 heard VN, 1 seen BRL
71. Columba livia Rock Pigeon urban areas
72. Columba fasciata Band-tailed Pigeon 3 in flight BRL (CA only)
73. Columba flavirostris Red-billed Pigeon commonly heard, few seen
74. Zenaida macroura Mourning Dove few at several locations
75. Zenaida asiatica White-winged Dove few in lowlands
76. Columbina inca Inca Dove common most locations, ph
77. Columbina passerina Common Ground-Dove common at most locations
78. Columbina talpacoti Ruddy Ground-Dove common at many locations, ph
79. Leptotila verreauxi White-tipped Dove very common most sites, ph
80. Aramus guarauna Limpkin 3 on SB mangrove boat ride, ph
81. Rallus longirostris King Rail 1 PV - Manzanillo aeroport road, ph
82. Porphyrio martinica Purple Gallinule 1 on SB mangrove boat ride, ph
83. Gallinula chloropus Common Moorhen regular along coat
84. Fulica americana American Coot regular along coast
85. Gallinago delicata Wilson's Snipe 1 SB
86. Numenius hudsonicus Hudsonian Curlew (Whimbrel) 6+ SB, ph
87. Tringa melanoleuca Greater Yellowlegs regular along coast
88. Tringa flavipes Lesser Yellowlegs 1 only SB shrimp ponds
89. Tringa solitaria Solitary Sandpiper 1 on coast road south of Colima
90. Actitis macularia Spotted Sandpiper common at many sites
91. Catoptrophorus (Tringa) semipalmatus Willet common along coast
92. Calidris alba Sanderling common on beaches
93. Calidris mauri Western Sandpiper 1 on beach at SB (KE only)
94. Calidris minutilla Least Sandpiper 1 SB
95. Calidris bairdii Baird's Sandpiper 1 SB
96. Calidris alpina Dunlin 3 on coast road south of Colima
97. Jacana spinosa Northern Jacana 3 only at SB
98. Haematopus palliatus American Oystercatcher 1 on coast road south of Colima, 2 at SB, ph
99. Himantopus mexicanus Black-necked Stilt common along coast
100. Pluvialis dominica American Golden Plover 1 SB (KE only)
101. Pluvialis squatarola Grey (Black-bellied) Plover common on beaches, ph
102. Charadrius wilsonia Wilson’s Plover 1 SB, ph
103. Charadrius vociferus Killdeer 1 SB 104. Larus heermanni Heerman’s Gull 8+ SB pelagic (NT), ph
105. Larus delawarensis Ring-billed Gull 1 only SB
106. Larus atricilla Laughing Gull very common along coast
107. Sterna nilotica Gull-billed Tern few coast road south of C and SB
108. Sterna caspia Caspian Tern 1 only SB
109. Sterna maxima Royal Tern several along coast
110. Sterna elegans Elegant Tern 4 on SB pelagic (NT)
111. Sterna anaethetus Bridled Tern 2 or 3 on SB pelagic
112. Sterna fuscata Sooty Tern 4 on SB pelagic
113. Chlidonias niger Black Tern very common in coastal marshes, off coast SB, ph
114. Pandion haliaetus Osprey regular along coast and mangroves, ph
115. Elanus leucrurus White-tailed Kite several along coast from C to SB
116. Rostrhamus sociabilis Snail Kite 1 M & SB mangrove boat ride (expanding range?)
117. Circus cyaneus Northern (Hen) Harrier few PV, SB
118. Accipiter striatus Sharp-shinned Hawk 4+ BRL over canyon
119. Accipiter cooperii Cooper's Hawk 1 at Mirador el Aguilla, 6 at BRL
120. Buteogallus anthracinus Common Black Hawk several PO, SB, ph
121. Parabuteo unicinctus Harris's Hawk 1 M
122. Asturina nitida Grey-lined Hawk (Grey Hawk) several along coast by roadside
123. Buteo magnirostris Roadside Hawk several C, SB and along coast
124. Buteo jamaicensis Red-tailed Hawk few scattered birds along coast
125. Caracara cheriway Crested Caracara several PO, SB, M, ph
126. Herpetotheres cachinnans Laughing Falcon 2 SB mangrove boat ride
127. Micrastur semitorquatus Collared Forest-Falcon 2 seen and others heard PO
128. Falco sparverius American Kestrel 4 PV, 1 SB
129. Falco columbarius Merlin 2 VN area
130. Podilymbus podiceps Pied-billed Grebe few SB, M
131. Phaethon aethereus Red-billed Tropicbird 6 on SB pelagic, ph
132. Sula nebouxii Blue-footed Booby 100+ SB pelagic + 3 on coast, ph
133. Sula leucogaster Brown Booby 30+ SB pelagic and few from shore, ph
134. Anhinga anhinga Anhinga 20+ SB especially on mangrove boat ride, ph
135. Phalacrocorax brasilianus Neotropic (Olivaceous) Cormorant common along coast, ph
136. Egretta tricolor Tricolored Heron common along coast, ph
137. Egretta caerulea Little Blue Heron common along coast, ph
138. Egretta thula Snowy Egret common along coast, ph
139. Ardea herodias Great Blue Heron common along coast
140. Casmerodius albus Great Egret common
141. Bubulcus ibis Cattle Egret very common
142. Butorides virescens Green Heron common, ph
143. Nyctanassa violacea Yellow-crowned Night-heron fairly common in mangroves, ph
144. Nycticorax nycticorax Black-crowned Night-Heron less common than former
145. Cochlearius cochlearia Boat-billed Heron 1 LAQ, large nesting colony SB, ph
146. Tigrisoma mexicanum Bare-throated Tiger-Heron 1 on nest with chick + 2 adults SB, ph
147. Eudocimus albus White Ibis regular along coast
148. Plegadis chihi White-faced Ibis common along coast
149. Ajaia ajaia Roseate Spoonbill 2 PV (Manzanillo aeroport), 12+ SB, ph
150. Pelecanus occidentalis Brown Pelican very common along coast, ph
151. Coragyps atratus Black Vulture very common almost every site, ph
152. Cathartes aura Turkey Vulture very common almost every site, ph
153. Myctesia americana Wood Stork common along coast, ph
154. Fregata magnificens Magnificent Frigatebird common on coast, ph
155. Gavia immer Common Loon near Mazatlan? (KE only)
156. Puffinus opisthomelas Black-vented Shearwater 6 on SB pelagic (NT) ph
157. Puffinus lherminieri Audubon’s Shearwater 12 on SB pelagic, ph
158. Myiopagis viridicata Greenish Elaenia 1 C (Laguna la Maria)
159. Mitrephanes phaeocercus (Common) Tufted Flycatcher common at mid – high elevations, ph
160. Contopus pertinax Greater Peewee common at moderate elevations, ph
161. Contopus sordidulus Western Wood-Pewee 1 BRL
162. Empidonax trailli Willow Flycatcher 1 SB
163. Empidonax albigularis White-throated Flycatcher 1 SB (sewer ponds) (KE, AR only)
164. Empidonax minimus Least Flycatcher 2 or 3 along coast
165. Empidonax hammondii Hammond's Flycatcher regular in pine-oak
166. Empidonax oberholseri Dusky Flycatcher 1 below BRL
167. Empidonax affinis Pine Flycatcher several VN, 1 CSJ, 1 BRL, ph
168. Empidonax difficilis Western (Pacific-slope) Flycatcher 3+ PO, 1 below PR (Pantitlan) Empidonax difficilis occidentalis Western (Cordilleran) Flycatcher 1 BRL
169. Empidonax fulvifrons Buff-breasted Flycatcher 2 VN, ph
170. Pyrocephalus rubinus Vermilion Flycatcher common open areas, ph
171. Attila spadiceus Bright-rumped Attila 1 Pantitlan Road
172. Myiarchus tuberculifer Dusky-capped Flycatcher common several sites
173. Myiarchus cinerascens Ash-throated Flycatcher 3 PR
Myiarchus nuttingi Nutting's Flycatcher 1 PR
Myiarchus tyrannulus Brown-crested Flycatcher 2 PO
Deltarhynchus flammulatus Flammulated Flycatcher 2 PO
177. Tyrannus melancholicus Tropical Kingbird very common, ph
178. Tyrannus vociferans Cassin's Kingbird 2 LN area
179. Tyrannus crassirostris Thick-billed Kingbird regular, PO, PR, LN, ph
180. Pitangus sulphuratus Great Kiskadee common, ph
181. Megarynchus pitangua Boat-billed Flycatcher 2 CSJ, C, few by roadside
182. Myiodynastes luteiventris Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher 1 PO, ph
183. Myiozetetes similis Social Flycatcher common
184. Pachyramphus major Grey-collared Becard 2+ at each VN, SB, CSJ, ph
185. Pachyramphus aglaiae Rose-throated Becard pair CSJ
186. Tityra semifasciata Masked Tityra few CSJ, BRL
187. Xiphorhynchus flavigaster Ivory-billed Woodcreeper 2+ BRL
188. Lepidocolaptes leucogaster White-striped Woodcreeper common VN, CSJ, BRL, ph
189. Lanius ludovicianus Loggerhead Shrike few on roadside from VN north to SB
190. Vireo nelsoni Dwarf Vireo 3 VN, ph
191. Vireo huttoni Hutton's Vireo 1 VN, 3+ BRL
192. Vireo hypochryseus Golden Vireo 3 C (Laguna La Maria), 1 CSJ
193. Vireo cassini Cassin's Vireo 1 LN
194. Vireo plumbeus Plumbeous Vireo 1 CSJ, 2 BRL
195. Vireo flavoviridis Yellow-green Vireo 2 PO, 3 CSJ, ph
196. Cyanocitta stelleri Steller's Jay 8+ BRL
197. Aphelocoma ultramarina Grey-breasted (Mexican) Jay 1 flock VN
198. Cyanocorax yncas Green Jay 6+ CSJ
199. Calocitta colliei Black-throated Magpie-Jay common SB, PR, LN, ph
200. Calocitta formosa White-throated Magpie-Jay 2 C (Microondas la cumber) (KE only)
201. Cyanocorax sanblasianus San Blas Jay 12+ with juveniles Manzanillo aeroport, ph
202. Cyanocorax beecheii Purplish-backed Jay after much effort, 1 seen others heard LN
203. Cyanocorax dickeyi Tufted Jay fairly common BRL, ph (NT)
204. Corvus sinaloae Sinaloa Crow very common SB but less so south & north of SB
205. Corvus corax Common Raven few VN, CSJ, BRL
206. Ptilogonys cinereus Grey Silky-flycatcher few VN but less common than east coast, ph
207. Sialia sialis Eastern Bluebird common CSJ, BRL (high elevations west coast)
208. Myadestes occidentalis Brown-backed Solitaire commonly heard & >30 seen mountain sites, ph
209. Catharus aurantiirostris Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush 1 C (AR only), 2 CSJ
210. Catharus occidentalis Russet Nightingale-Thrush 1 seen well upper reaches VN
211. Catharus frantzii Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush 4 seen well mid elevations VN, ad + juv BRL, ph
212. Catharus ustulatus Swainson's Thrush 1 BRL
213. Turdus assimilis White-throated Thrush 2 seen well C (Laguna La Maria)
214. Turdus rufopalliatus Rufous-backed Thrush several SB, PR, LN, ph
215. Turdus migratorius American Robin common but localized VN
216. Melanotis caerulescens Blue Mockingbird 2 C (Laguna la Maria), 3 CSJ, 1 BRL
217. Mimus polyglottos Northern Mockingbird 2 LN
218. Toxostoma curvirostre Curve-billed Thrasher 3+ PR, LN
219. Sitta pygmaea Pygmy Nuthatch pair VN
220. Sitta carolinensis White-breasted Nuthatch 6+ CSJ, BRL
221. Certhia americana American Tree-Creeper (Brown Creeper) common VN, CSJ, BRL
222. Campylorhynchus gularis Spotted Wren 2 + juvs VN, ph
223. Campylorhynchus rufinucha Rufous-naped Wren 2 C (Microondas la cumbre)
224. Campylorhynchus megalopterus Grey-barred Wren common VN, ph (range map?)
225. Thryomanes bewickii Bewick's Wren 1 VN, 1 BRL
226. Thryothorus felix Happy Wren all sites near C, also at BRL
227. Thryothorus sinaloa Sinaloa Wren 4+ VN
228. Troglodytes aedon House Wren 1 LN Troglodytes (aedon) brunneicollis Brown-throated House Wren fairly common at a range of sites, ph
229. Uropsila leucogastra White-bellied Wren few PO, PR
230. Henicorhina leucophrys Grey-breasted Wood-wren few VN, CSJ, ph
231. Poliptila caerula Blue-grey Gnatcatcher very common lowlands
232. Polioptila nigriceps Black-capped Gnatcatcher 1 male at each PO, LN, many pr females (?)
233. Poecile sclateri Mexican Chickadee common in pine-oak, ph
234. Baeolophus wollweberi Bridled Titmouse 6+ BRL, ph
235. Psaltriparus minimus Bushtit common lowlands, variable ear coverts
236. Tachycineta albilinea Mangrove Swallow common SB and elsewhere, ph
237. Progne chalybe Grey-breasted Martin common along west coast
238. Stelgidopteryx serripennis Northern Rough-winged Swallow 2 PR, LN
239. Hirundo rustica Barn Swallow very common
240. Hirundo pyrrhonota Cliff Swallow few in lowlands
241. Regulus calendula Ruby-crowned Kinglet regular CSJ, BRL
242. Regulus satrapa Golden-crowned Kinglet common high elevations
243. Passer domesticus House Sparrow common in towns
244. Peucedramus taeniatus Olive Warbler regular at all pine-oak sites, ph
245. Carduelis pinus Pine Siskin 1 VN (out of range?), 2 BRL
246. Carduelis notata Black-headed Siskin 4 CSJ +
247. Carduelis psaltria Lesser Goldfinch more common than former several sites, ph
248. Carpodacus mexicanus House Finch common various lowland sites
249. Loxia curvirostra Red (Common) Crossbill 2 flocks BRL
250. Hesperiphona abeillei Hooded Grosbeak 1 male BRL
251. Junco phaeonotus Yellow-eyed Junco very common in pin-oak, ph
252. Passerculus sandwichensis Savannah Sparrow coast
253. Spizella passerina Chipping Sparrow 2 CSJ
254. Aimophila humeralis Black-chested Sparrow 3+ thorn forest C (Microondas La Cumbre)
255. Aimophila ruficauda Stripe-headed Sparrow PR, LN
256. Aimophila rufescens Rusty Sparrow 2+ VN, 1 CSJ,
257. Pipilo ocai Collared Towhee common VN and few elsewhere, ph
258. Pipilo maculatus Spotted Towhee 6+ BRL
259. Pipilo fuscus Canyon Towhee very common most sites, ph
260. Melozone kieneri Rusty-crowned Ground-Sparrow 3+ C (Laguna La Maria)
261. Atlapetes pileatus Rufous-capped Brush-Finch regular VN, CSJ, BRL (juvs), ph
262. Buarremon brunneinucha Green striped Brushfinch few VN and Laguna LA Maria, ph
263. Vermivora celata Orange-crowned Warbler 4+ VN
264. Vermivora ruficapilla Nashville Warbler 2 VN and CSJ
265. Vermivora crissalis Colima Warbler 1 BRL (surprising!) (NT)
266. Vermivora luciae Lucy's Warbler 1 PR, ph
267. Parula pitiayumi Tropical Parula regular in thorn-forest and a few elsewhere
268. Parula superciliosa Crescent-chested Warbler mid elevations VN, CSJ, BRL
269. Dendroica petechia Yellow Warbler common but no “Mangrove” varieties seen!
270. Dendroica magnolia Magnolia Warbler 1 VN
271. Dendroica coronata Yellow-rumped Warbler both “Audubon’s” & “Myrtle” common, esp BRL
272. Dendroica nigrescens Black-throated Grey Warbler very common
273. Dendroica townsendi Townsend's Warbler very common, ph
274. Dendroica occidentalis Hermit Warbler common, ph
275. Dendroica virens Black-throated Green Warbler 2 BRL
276. Dendroica fusca Blackburnian Warbler 1 VN (range?)
277. Dendroica graciae Grace's Warbler common BRL but nowhere else, ph
278. Mniotilta varia Black-and-white Warbler common most sites
279. Setophaga ruticilla American Redstart few west coast
280. Seiurus noveboracensis Northern Waterthrush few at several sites
281. Seiurus motacilla Louisiana Waterthrush 1 SB
282. Oporornis tolmiei MacGillivray's Warbler 1 BRL
283. Geothlypis trichas Common Yellowthroat common
284. Geothlypis poliocephala Grey-crowned Yellowthroat common drive to VN but not elsewhere, ph
285. Wilsonia pusilla Wilson's Warbler very common
286. Cardellina rubrifrons Red-faced Warbler regular at pine-oak sites
287. Ergaticus ruber Red Warbler common, cheeks VN (whiter) BRL (grayer), ph
288. Myioborus pictus Painted Redstart common CSJ, BRL, fewer VC
289. Myioborus miniatus Slate-throated Redstart common throughout west
290. Basileuterus rufifrons Rufous-capped Warbler regular several sites
291. Basileuterus belli Golden-browed Warbler few at most sites
292. Icteria virens Yellow-breasted Chat 2+ RR and LNR
293. Granatellus venustus Red-breasted Chat 1 seen well at C (Microondas La Cumbre)
294. Piranga bidentata Flame-coloured Tanager 1 pair BRL only !
295. Piranga flava Hepatic Tanager common VN, less so further north
296. Piranga rubra Summer Tanager 2 pairs BRL
297. Piranga ludoviciana Western Tanager 1 at Laguna La Maria, 3+ PR
298. Piranga erythrocephala Red-headed Tanager 2 CSJ, 8+ BRL, ph
299. Euphonia (affinis) godmani Scrub (Godman’s) Euphonia Lower Singayta and CSJ, ph
300. Volatinia jacarina Blue-black Grassquit common open areas, ph
301. Sporophila (t.) torqueola White-collared (Cinnamon-rumped) Seedeater common on west coast, ph
302. Sporophila minuta Ruddy-breasted Seedeater 2 Manzanillo airport but nowhere else
303. Diglossa baritula Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer 4 high elevations VN but not elsewhere
304. Pheucticus chrysopeplus Yellow Grosbeak only 1 at C (Laguna LA Maria)
305. Pheucticus ludovicianus Rose-breasted Grosbeak 2 VN
306. Pheucticus melanocephalis Black-headed Grosbeak 2+ BRL
307. Saltator coerulescens Greyish Saltator few only at several sites
308. Passerina (Guiraca) caerulea Blue Grosbeak male en route to VN
309. Passerina versicolor Varied Bunting 2 females PO
310. Passerina ciris Painted Bunting male & 2 females LN, ph (NT)
311. Passerina leclancherii Orange-breasted Bunting 4+ C (Microondas La Cumbre)
312. Cacicus melanicterus Yellow-winged Cacique common all thorn forest sites, ph
313. Icterus (graduacaudata) dickeyi Dickey’s (Audubon's) Oriole 1 Laguna la Maria
314. Icterus pectoralis Spot-breasted Oriole 2 Manzanillo airport marshes, ph
315. Icterus galaris Altamira Oriole 1 Laguna La Maria
316. Icterus pustulatus Streak-backed Oriole few at thorn forest or scrubby sites
317. Icterus bullockii Bullock's Oriole several CSJ & few elsewhere
318. Icterus cucullatus Hooded Oriole 1 PO +
319. Icterus wagleri Black-vented Oriole 1 Laguna La Maria
320. Icterus parisorum Scott's Oriole 1 SB
321. Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus Yellow-headed Blackbird large flock below VN (Guzman - laguna)
322. Agelaius phoeniceus Red-winged Blackbird few only SB
323. Quiscalus mexicanus Great-tailed Grackle just about everywhere in lowlands
324. Molothrus aeneus Bronzed Cowbird few SB area 325. Molothrus ater Brown-headed Cowbird (KE only)

The Centre and East: The following notes on locations in central Mexico and Veracruz may be useful:

El Porvorin Loop: Very birdy with great looks at Long-tailed Wood Partridge, Crescent-chested Warbler, Hooded Grosbeak and many others, but not passable in a passenger car. Swifts were few and far between in the area at this time of year contrary to Howell’s reports.

La Cima: We worked long and hard to get mere glimpses of Sierra Madre Sparrow among the much more common and larger Striped Sparrow.

Almoyola Del Rio: The marsh is tiny but we fluked a single male Black-polled Yellowthroat.

Catemaco / Sontecomapan: Ismael is still in business and still the guy to go with for a boat ride. He seems to have Great Currasow staked out (we saw a female). At dusk Grey-necked Woodrails come out onto the overhanging branches and are easy to see (bring a spotlight, Ismael doesn’t have one). Don’t expect to see Sungrebe at this time of year (September/October) though. We saw Bare-throated Tiger-heron, Collared Forest-Falcon, Muscovy Duck and Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture from the boat. There is a new road into Las Tuxtlas that sounds awesome. If you can find it, buy the Pronatura Site guide to Veracruz (we discovered it too late at the conference). When you get to San Andres Tuxtla look for a large Goodyear tyre store on the western side of the road and turn east just south of it on a small street that leads uphill to “Ejido Ruiz Cortines”. After 1.5km turn left at the T-junction towards Ejido Ruiz Cortines (another 12 km or so. The road is apparently paved for the first 10 km). After going through open fields and shrubby areas there is good forest starting where the pavement turns to white concrete and beyond. Pronatura have found a long list of good birds here including the endemic taxa of the Tuxtlas area and gems like Scaled Antpitta.

Play Juan Angel: An awesome site for Collared Plover 10km north of Cardel. Go north from Cardel on Hwy 180 and at kilometer post 36.5 look for signs to Paso de Doña Juana and/or the Charly Brand Hotel. The turn off is just south of the bridge over the Agua Fria River. You exit right (east) and go through cane fields and through the town of Paso de Doña Juana before coming to the beach. Collared Plover can be found by walking along the beach either north or south from the mouth of the creek (you can wade across the creek if you like but this is not necessary to find Collared Plover). Other goodies here include Double-striped Thick-knee on the dunes, Striped Owl in the cane fields, Mexican Sheartail and several tern species including Least. Nearby is the town of Chichicaxtle and its soccer field where Pronatura watches raptors in migration (they’re building a small viewing tower). This is also a stakeout for Mexican Sheartail. (Ask for “el campo de Chichicaxtle”)

Las Barrancas no longer signposted as such but there is a sign to the turtle gas platform. We found 18 thick-knees, 4 Pinnated Bittern, 12 Aplomado Falcon, several coveys of bobwhites, and Fork-tailed and Scissor-tailed flycatchers by the bucketful. Grassland Yellowfinch was hard work at this time of year though (in contrast to a previous visit in winter).