West Mexico - Quest for Endemics!
Friday 16th Jan – Saturday 31st Jan 2015
This very select tour with a Mexico's best resident guide will make for a very elite experience. Our local guide Dave has lived in Mexico for the last 18 years and is an expert at finding the sought after species that we too will be seeking during this spectacular tour. Dave expertise and local knowledge will make this a very safe and very exciting tour where we will concentrate on finding many of the areas key endemic species alongside many other sought after specialities. From the coast through to lush forests, to dry cactus scrub and spectacular volcanos our birding is set amongst most stunning scenery. To compliment this wonderful tour we will be arranging a follow up tour in 2016 to others areas of South Mexico where we can clean up on another set of superb endemics.
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Depending where you travel from most people will set off today on an overnight flight to Mazatlan, where we expect a morning arrival the following day 8th March.
Day 2 Arrival – Mazatlan - 17th Jan
After a morning arrival at Mazatlan, Mexico, we will drive the scenic Durango highway to Copala, approximately 1:30hrs from the airport. We will make a few stops along the way in both tropical deciduous habitat, and at a couple of riparian areas. Possible species include Sinaloa Crow, Harris’s Hawk, Yellow-winged Cacique, Black-throated Magpie Jay, Purplish-backed Jay, Red-breasted Chat, Fan-tailed Warbler, Blue Mockingbird, Thick-billed Kingbird and Orange-billed Nightingale Thrush. Once at the hotel we can scan the skies for Military Macaws which regularly fly overhead.
Days 3 - 4 Sierra Madre – 18th - 19th Jan
The next two days will be devoted to birding the Sierra Madre foothills and tropical deciduous forest, as well as the high elevation pine oak forest. This is one of Mexicos famous birding localities and apart from the stunning scenery it also holds a wealth of localised and sought after species. One of the days will see us depart before dawn for the 2 hour trip up into the highlands and the territory of the highly range restricted Tufted Jay. Although the Jay is our number one target on this day, there will be a number of other wonderful highland species that we could encounter, including the stunning Red Warbler, Golden-browed Warbler, Pine Flycatcher, Russet Nightingale-Thrush, Gray-collared Becard, White-striped Woodcreeper, Green-striped and Rufous-capped Brush-Finch, Eared Quetzal and Mountain Trogon. Many of the species we expect to encounter will be endemic or near endemic, and with luck we may come across a mixed feeding flock that could be ablaze with colour and hold such species as Painted Redstart, Crescent-chested Warbler, Red-faced Warbler, Olive, Grace’s, Townsend, Hermit, Nashville, Rufous-capped and Black-and-white Warbler. At lower altitudes and back down the slope to some drier oak and transitional tropical forest habitat we will search for Military Macaw and a host of other spectacular birds such as Colima Pygmy-Owl, Arizona Woodpecker, Rusty-crowned Ground-sparrow, Rusty Sparrow, Gray Silky-Flycatcher, Hammond’s and Cordilleran Flycatchers, Golden Vireo, Black-capped, Bell’s, Hutton’s, Cassin’s and Plumbeous Vireos, Brown-backed Solitaire, Mexican Chickadee, Pine Flycatcher, Brown-throated Wren, Black-vented Oriole, Western Tanager, Black-headed Grosbeak, Blue Bunting, Yellow-eyed Junco, Black-headed Siskin and hummingbirds such as Violet-crowned, Berylline, Rufous, White-eared and Blue-throated. Our second morning may see us return to the higher elevation areas in order to pick up anything we may have missed the previous day, possibilities are Bumblebee Hummingbird, Aztec Thrush, and the gorgeous Red-headed Tanager. Nights in Copala
Day 5 Sierra Madre – San Blas - 20th Jan
Day 6 San Blas - 21st Jan
Today will see us birding the exciting and unpredictable San Blas area with very little time in the van! Open roads and forest trails should lead us to a variety of sought after species, amongst the many goodies we might find are Elegant Quail, Mexican Parrotlet, Russet-crowned Motmot, Elegant Trogon, Golden-cheeked Woodpecker, Ivory-billed Woodcreeper, Rosy Thrush-Tanager, Scrub (Godman’s) Euphonia, Fan-tailed Warbler, Painted Bunting, Pacific-slope and Vermilion Flycatchers,Yellow-breasted Chat, Rose-throated Becard, Black-chinned and Broad-billed Hummingbirds, MacGillivray’s Warbler and the local race of White-collared Seedeater. In the early evening we will take a boat trip into the freshwater springs of La Tovara. As we slowly pass through mangroves this is one of those trips that can become a tour highlight. There is an evocative atmoshere as we silently drift along in search of the bizarre Boat-billed Heron, Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, Mangrove Yellow Warbler, Mangrove Cuckoo, Mangrove Swallow and hopefully one of our target species the Rufous-necked Wood-Rail. As the evening light falls we should see plenty of Lesser Nighthawks, Pauraques and with luck a Northern Potoo.
Night San Blas
superb pine-oak forests to around 1500m. It then winds down through humid forest to semi-deciduous tropical forest and coffee plantations. We will be looking for mixed species flocks as well as several big targets of the day and not so easy to see hummingbirds such as Mexican Woodnymph, Mexican Hermit, and the tiny Bumblebee Hummingbird. Amongst the multitude of species we could encounter are Lesser Roadrunner, Elegant Quail, Spotted Wren, Rusty Sparrow and Black-headed Siskin. This can also be a good area for Eared Poorwill and we will make a special effort to try and see this superb bird. Other exciting species we could come across include Gray-crowned Woodpecker, Gray-collared Becard, Blue Mockingbird, Golden Vireo, Buff-breasted Flycatcher, Flame-coloured Tanager, Olivaceous, Ivory-billed and White-striped Woodcreepers and more chances for Military Macaw. The higher forest can hold Gray Silky- Flycatcher, Eastern Bluebird and Golden-crowned Warbler and much more. Night back in San Blas
Night in Autlan Jalisco.
Leaders: Dave Mackay
Airfare: £850.00 (Approx) - UK/UK
Zoothera tour prices explained
Group size: Minimum for tour to go ahead 4 with maximum 9
Included in cost: Accommodation in twin rooms en-suite, all meals, ground transport throughout, boat trip, all entrance fees, and services of leader.
Not included: International airfare, insurance, drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature.
Accommodation: All lodges are of a good standard and offer en-suite rooms, a good variety of meals and cooked breakfasts.
Tour Code: This is a standard birding tour with regular birding walks along roads and well marked trails. There are early morning options and pre-breakfast excursions, followed by morning and afternoon sessions. The weather is generally good to warm, even hot with possibilities of rain in the afternoons. Be prepared for all eventualities.
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