This was not a birding vacation as non-birding spouse was with me. Spent early mornings out. This is my second trip to Manzanillo. Used Duane Carmony's W. Mexico trip report in 1994 which was posted on BIRDCHAT and found new areas on my own in 1995. We rented a condo so close to the surf that immediate relaxation took over.
Charter out of Mpls for about $450. Condo rental included an old car which turned out to be not as reliable as we had hoped. Thus trips up the mountains were out of the question and a disappointment. Condo rentals seemed to range from 300 and up with little view, 300 for one bedroom and a view. Because of the fluctating peso (exchange ranged from 4.5 to 8 in one week) this was the least expensive trip our of 6 to Mexico. Willy's restr. is in a gourmet class, our favorite and entire meals with tip, bev etc were between $25-40 US.
As noted in a separate report, I used the Howell/Webb guide plates and had my Costa Rica plates. Will bring Nat Geo NA for next trip. I also brought Peterson and Edwards but will not do so again.
Arrived Man airport and afternoon temp was 92 degrees. Escaped the snowfall of the year in Mpls by one day. From the van to Manz saw the standard fair of TURKEY VULTURES, BLACK VULTURES, GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE, TROPICAL KINGBIRD and at the condo saw MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRDS, CASPIAN, ELEGANT, and ROYAL TERNS. With spouse walked to San Peditro Lagoon (the unofficial dump of Manz) and saw water birds in the brackish mangrove tidal area which included GREAT EGRETS, SNOW EGRETS, YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT HERONS (in magnificent plumage), WHITE IBIS, and shore birds including WILLET, WESTERN SANDPIPER, AMERICAN AVOCETS AND BLACK-NECKED STILTS. A small flock of LESSER GOLDFINCH also.
San Peditro Lagoons from 8-10 AM. Saw many birds, many water birds and added TRI-COLORED HERON, CATTLE EGRET, LONG BILLED DOWITCHER, LONG-BILLED CURLEW, AM. WHITE PELICAN and good looks at skulking CLAPPER RAILS. Songbirds included GREAT KISKIDEE, BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER, MAGNOLIA WARBLERS, AM.REDSTART, MANGROVE WARBLER, N. WATERTRUSH, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, BLUE GROSBEAK, RUDDY-BREASTED SEEDEATER, GRAYISH SALTATOR, WHITE-WINGED DOVE, BARN AND MANGROVE SWALLOWS. A late afternoon drive near the Valley of the Herons yielded WILSON'S WARBLER and huge numbers of RUDDY DUCKS. Spouse spotted a bird nestled in the sand near the condo and I added WILSON'S PLOVER to my Mexico list as the sun set.
Areas birded: condo, vacant lot next to the Costa Real Hotel (where we stayed in 94) and an undeveloped housing area/ palm plantation across from Costa Real. From the Condo saw two COMMON LOONS, LAUGHING GULLS, the three terns, and an OSPREY. In the vacant lot a single SOLITARY SANDPIPER poked around a puddle, and I saw GOLDEN VIREOS, GOLDEN-FRONTED WOODPECKERS, GROOVE-ANIS, YELLOW BREASTED CHAT, ORCHARD ORIOLS, NORHTERN MOCKINGBIRD and a small group of warblers including MANGROVE, NASHVILLE, PALM, MAC GUILLARY'S and YELLOW-RUMPED. The flashy SAN BLAS JAY and YELLOW WINGED CACIQUE were racousy as usual. I heard,then saw, an owl which may have been a COLIMA. After reading Howell I was even more convinced but could not relocate it later in the day.
Leaving the condo to hop the local bus, I had a life bird on the few flowering plantings at the condo gate: BLACK-VENTED ORIOLE, stunning. Went to Las Hadas golf course along the ocean and near the Mall. Found an area of short shrubery/ vegetation piles and it was rich. Saw VERMILLION FLYCATHCER (female), STREAKED-BACKED ORIOLE, LINCOLN SPARROW, CINNAMON HUMMINGBIRD, WHITE-COLLARED SEEDEATER. In a pond found an immature N. JACANA, PIED-BILLED GREBE, WHITE-FACED IBIS. Over head flew BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING DUCKS. Late afternoon we drove to the gorgeous beach of PLAYA DEL ORO between Manz and the airport. In the distance on the island I could make out a TROPIC BIRD and assume it was a RED-BILLED. Added my favorite ORANGE-BREASTED BUNTINGS, SQUIRREL CUCKOO, a LARK SPARROW, AND STRIPE HEADED SPARROW.
Found me at San Peditro Lagoon. ROSEATE SPOONBILLS were a colorful additon, as was a COMMON MOORHEN, PERIGRINE FALCON. With orioles in a tree was a BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK, adult male. Mexican birds new for me were a scrubby-looking RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER and a BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER. Saw many species this morning. The afternoon was a time of discovery. While getting the unreliable car repaired, the car dealership manager told me he was a biologist by training and he told me of a lagoon I hadn't heard about before. On the local maps the Lagoon is called Laguna de Juluapan and is between Club Santiago and the town of El Naranjo. Vida de Mar, an American housing development is in this area. To reach the lagoon, turn at the bus stop in El Naranjo at Milemarker 21 on Hwy 200. Continue to the resort Las Palma Real, about 5 Km. The lagoon was never quite full of water and never quite empty. Added BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER and SEMIPALMATED PLOVER to the trip list. Also saw close up and personal, a dashing (literally) GREEN KINGFISHER. Exploring adjacent roads yielded more ORANGE-BREASTED BUNTINGS. I would return here.
El Naranjo to Las Palma Real: birding was teriffic all along this road. While there was lots of traffic, it was also paved and quite safe to bird. The first few KM were in farmland/orange orchards on one side of the road and lush green dense vegetation on the other. This area was buggy. The habitat gradually changed to dry thorn forest, but the lagoon side was more moist. Near Las Palma the sandy lagoons held shorebirds and waterbirds. Birds seen were WOODSTORK, BLACK SKIMMERS along side many terns, GRAY HAWK, GREEN KINFISHER, BROWN BOOBY( up close), MARBLED GODWITS galore and many other shorebirds already mentioned. In the afternoon we headed toward the airport and saw many water birds in the airport ponds. I also spotted MEXICAN PARROTLETS and a LILAC-CROWNED PARROT. SAN BLAS JAYS were around and another FERRUGINIOUS PYGMY OWL was heard. These commonly called during the day.
Arrived at Larenzo Cardenas Canyon on Hwy 80 by 8 when the sun was just hitting the gulch. Saw a CRESTED CARACARA, the only one on the trip, enroute. Before we left the car, we had a LINNEATED WOOPECKER sound off and had marvelous views of it's fiery red head. LILAC-CROWNED PARROTS flew around the rim of the area. Many warblers including BLACK-AND-WHITE WILSON'S AND TROPICAL PARULA....always a stunner. We took our time up the steeper part of the canyon. We spottep a small flock of RED-CROWNED ANT- TANAGERS working around a shrub. What a color that narrow crown is. We also saw a VARIED BUNTING.
Then we met the cows coming down the trail we were working up. They stopped and as we turned I spotted three CITROLINE TROGANS perched upright in a tree. Marvelous looks! Spouse was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the cows which stopped when we stopped. So we headed down. As we approached the stream running across the road, my spouse continued down the trail. I caught movement of an IVORY-BILLED WOODCREEPER working a trunk. Finding my self against a barred wire fence, I heard the cows approaching me and the water. I then found myself unable to freely move among them as they were intent on satisfying their thirst. I touched a few, they began to separate, and then I saw the bull bringing up the rear of the herd. I moved a little more quickly out of there....... Continuing out of the canyon we saw a SQUIRREL CUCKOO a CINNAMON HUMMINGBIRD, HEPATIC TANAGER, a dramatic BLACK-THROATED MAGPIE JAY among others. Stopped in Barre de Navidad to find it even more touristy than the previous year. Late in the afternoon we stopped by the San Peditro Lagoons for more of the birds seen there previously.
Had a 3pm flight but had great birding at the road from El Naragjo to Las Palma Real from 8-11:30. What a morning!! Another LINEATED WOODPECKER, a pair of ROSE-THROATED BECARDS, RUDDY GROUND DOVES, a BLUE BUNTING, and many orioles were seen along the road. I also heard a BELL'S VIREO and had my very first looks at a WHITE-BELLIED WREN. Up on the thorn forest hillside, I saw eight WHITE-THROATED MAGPIE JAYS wafting to one tree, then sailing off to another with their long-tails streaming behind. WOW. At the Las Palma Real, I walked toward the water and the dense shrubery was loaded with birds. A WEST MEXICAN CHACHALACA flew out and up the hill showing a cinnamon tail band. Found another WHITE-THROATED MAGPIE JAY, a GRAYISH SALTATOR singing like a N. Cardinal, and many YELLOW-WINGED CACIQUE. In the lagoon itself were many shorebirds and waterbirds including REDDISH EGRET, BLACK SKIMMERS, and the terns. On the hillside calling were a flock of parrots, LILAC-CROWNS? Shore birds included WILSON'S, SEMIPALMATED, SNOWY AND BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS along with the ever present WILLETS, LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS, LB CURLEWS AND MARBLED GODWITS. Before heading for the airport, I saw a FORK-TAILED EMERALD and ORCHARD ORIOLE at the condo. At the airport I worked the parking lot edges and saw many birds....and in my mind's eye I still see the SAN BLAS JAYS, YELLOW- WINGED CACIQUES the STREAK-BACKED ORIOLES in stunning colors. Yes, I'm going back.