Despite it being the summer rainy season, my wife and I decided to make a quick ten day run from our home in Weslaco, Texas down to Chiapas to get a few life birds amd have a little adventure. As it turned out the rain interfered little with birding but was annoying during the 2600 mile round trip from Weslaco, Texas. Driving was easy and I was amazed to encounter no military or drug checkpoints during the entire trip. Gas was cheaper than in the USA at 6.62 pesos per liter ($2.27/gal). But more than $100 in fares on the toll roads made up for it. With the stability of the Mexican Peso over the past few years, lodging and food are much more expensive than in the good old days of peso devaluations. Toal cost for the trip including aduana, car insurance, fuel, tolls, hotels and food was about $1200. We brought our own food for breakfast and lunch and ate dinner in restaurants. A few days prior to our trip, we ran down to Progreso across the border from Weslaco to get our toursist visas and car permit. It took less than an hour on a weekday morning.
Birding seemed more difficult than my winter visits to the area. The local breeders don't seem to react as strongly to my pygmy owl tooting as do the wintering migrants. But with some work we saw some nice stuff. For some reason we had a problem with not getting to bed early and consequently getting started a little later than I would like. I'm not as dedicated as I used to be.
Part of my inspiration to make this trip was a great trip report by Bev Scott on Blake Maybank's "Birding the Americas" trip report site. Much thanks to all independent birders who post their trip reports on the web.
July 8 We crossed the border at Reynosa at about 5:3o AM. It rained much of the morning through Tamaulipas. Eurasian Collared-Dove is fairly common these days around the grain storage areas. Tamaulipas Crows were everywhere. Arrived on the Emerald Coast of northern Veracruz at about 6 PM. We stayed at Hotel Palmar for 490 pesos. Their pescado Veracruzano is usually great but was a little disappointing this time. Despite the coastal location we saw no mosquitos.
July 9 We left about 8 AM and continued south. Hard rain much of the day made for slow going. Roadside ponds provided the usual Northern Jacanas, egrets and Snail Kites. One side road someshere in southern Veracruz turned up a nice Gray-necked Wood-Rail. We rolled into Palenque after 8 PM and sought out Ed and Margarita's at the El Panchan lodge complex just outside to gate to the archeological site. For 300 pesos per night we had an absolutely spotless room with air-conditioning. Along with a few other economical lodges in the jungle setting was a really cool restaurant called Don Mucho's. Food was great at a reasonable price. The placed rocked with a local band and an eclectic bunch of world travellers made for quite a party scene. Too bad we had to get up early to go birding!
July 10 We were awakened by the mournful sounds of nearby Howler Monkeys outside our room. We didn't spend much time birding the second growth forest around the hotel but it looked like it could hold some good stuff. We spent part of the morning on the waterfall trail on the road below the ruins. I finally found my first Grey-headed Dove. Other neat birds included a pair of baby Mottled Owls, Purple-crowned Fairy, Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, and Royal and Yellow-olive Flycatcher. We also had super views of a family of Howler Monkeys. We got to the ruins at about 10 AM. The place was crowded with tourists. We made our way to the trail behind the Temple fo Inscriptions. We were surprised to find is open after having been closed for several years. Late morning birding was slow but provided a fly-by Ruddy Quail-Dove, Royal Flycatcher, Stripe-necked Hermit, White-breasted Wood-Wrens and plenty of Red-throated Ant-Tanagers.