16 - 18 November 1997
by Steve Ganley
This report is from a few months back and is from Nogales, Sonora down Highway 15 to Navojoa, Sonora with a side trip to Alamos, Sonora.
Roy Jones and I arrived at the Sonora checkpoint south of Nogales at KM 21. This is the port of entry and where you get the Sonora Only pass. [no fee] We thought we could get an early start and arrived at 5:00 a.m. but found out that it does not open until 6:00 a.m. Because we knew the money exchange would not be open, we got our pesos at the Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix. This did cost extra as we had to pay to park as well as a $5 fee to exchange the money. We have since found other places in Sonora to exchange money and they do not charge a fee.
Our first birding stop was at the reservoir on the east side of Hermosillo. It is large with the deeper water close to the road and the mud flats are on the far side. This makes it harder to see the birds, so a scope is needed. Birds we found here included: White Pelicans, Cormorants, Egrets, Gulls, Lark Buntings, Lark Sparrows, Peregrine Falcon, Great-tailed Grackles and lots of Brewer's Blackbirds.
From Hermosillo to Guaymas it is 138 KM. We decided to get off the 4 lane toll road [Cuota] and take the regular road [Libre] through town. There is good birding along the cause way between Guaymas and Empalme. It was high tide as we crossed and there were very few birds. We saw Common Loon, Brown Pelican, White Ibis, Buflehead, Peregrine Falcon, Shorebirds including a Whibrel, Gulls including Yellow-footed and Heerman's and some terns.
From Empalme to Cd. Obregon it is 127 KM. Using Peter Alden's book on Finding Birds in West Mexico, we took the side trip to the Rio Yaqui. It is only a few KMs off of the Cuota and worth an hour birding if you have the time. Birds found included Social Flycatcher, Kiskadee, Sora, Moorhen, Broad-billed and Violet-crowned Hummingbirds, Cassin's Kingbird, Plumbeous Vireo, MacGillivray's, Wilson's, Orange-crowned, Yellow-rumped and Black-throated Gray Warblers, Blue Grosbeak, Bronzed Cowbirds and Streaked- backed Orioles. There were also regular desert birds here like Verdin, Gila Woodpecker, Cactus Wren and the Green-tailed Towhees were everywhere.
From Ciudad Obregon to Navojoa is only 67 Km. About 5 KM before town, there is a large pond on the right side of the road. It is below a pig farm. This water smells bad but the birds don't seem to mind. On a previous trip were had found Wood Storks and White Ibis here, but on this trip we had: Blue-winged Teal, 200 Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Neotropic Cormorants, Pied-billed Grebe, White-faced Ibis, Avocets and Black-necked Stilts.
As you enter Navojoa, you cross the Rio Mayo. After crossing the bridge you can double-back on a dirt road on the right, to some trees under the bridge. Here there was good birding with many warblers, Least Grebe, Green Kingfisher and the surprise bird of the trip, a Northern Jacana. There was a small lake that was full of Pond Lily so maybe this Jacana stays in the area.
A left turn in Navojoa onto Sonora 19 will take you the 53 KM to Alamos. About 13 KM outside of Alamos is a campground called El Carocal. [the snail] It is a good place to camp [with showers] and the birding is good also. We have had Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl in our campsite, Black-throated Magpie Jays, Thick-billed Kingbird and White-fronted Parrots going to roost nearby at dusk.
Between El Carocal and Alamos, look for Sinaloa Crows. We also saw them in town in some fruiting palm trees in the square next to the church. Other town birds are Mexican Parrotlets, Ruddy Ground-Dove, Streak-backed Orioles and hummingbirds.
On the east side of town, the sewage [creek] ponds are also good birding. There are several fig trees along the stream. Birds we saw here included Blue Mockingbird, Ruddy Ground-Dove, Black-capped Gnatcatcher, Happy Wren, Rufous-backed Robin and Social Flycatcher.
The Rio Cuchujaqui is probably the best birding location. It is about 10 KM outside of town. Along the road to the river we saw Purplish-backed Jays, Black-throated Magpie Jays, Nutting's Flycatchers, only heard the Rufous-bellied Chachalacas, Red-billedPigeon, White-tipped Dove, Elegant Quail, Sinaloa Wren, and a flock of White-fronted Parrots. At the Rio we had Blue Mockingbird, Buff-breasted Flycatcher, Greater Pewee, Five-striped Sparrow, Varied Bunting, Green Kingfisher, Northern Beardless-Tyrannul et, Happy Wren, Thick-billed Kingbird, Elegant Trogon and a Bell's Vireo.
We ended up with a total of around 135 species for the three days including driving close to 1000 miles. By bringing our own food and camping, we each spent less than $100 during the trip.
Steve Ganley sganley@Primenet.com
Roy Jones Barbet@Primenet.com