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Colima & Jalisco notes

January 2005

by Rich Hoyer

This month I led two short tours to Colima & Jalisco, Jan 2- 8 and 18-25.  I have very little in the way of interesting bird reports, as Howell covers these areas very well, and we didn't see anything that wasn't on his lists.  But I do want to share some current logistical information.

Howell only briefly mentions the "variably bad dirt road up to about 4000 m on Nieve" and instead gives details on the Atenquique road up Volcan Fuego and a bit about the Floripondio roads up Nieve.  But in my opinion, this is one of the better roads.  This road is mentioned in some detail in a trip report by John van der Woude (Nov.-Dec.  99).  From the south side of Ciudad Guzman, get on the road to El Grullo (La Grulla of van der Woude) and Autlán.  Go 8.3 Km.  to the well-signed turnoff.  The first 4 km.  are brushy hedges and full of birds this time of year.  Beyond Km.  5 you start entering good forest, and it's good from there on up.  Around Km.  5.5 we had a very, very large mixed flock on the afternoon of Jan.  6, which the Field Guides tour apparently relocated around Jan.  20.  In it was a female GRAY-COLLARED BECARD, one of the harder birds here.

Making this road even more attractive is that the Atenquique road up Fuego is in really bad shape.  It doesn't look like it's had any maintenance in at least 2 years, and it is utterly impassible beyond about Km.  15 (and where there is no place to turn around).  Even up to this point, the habitat is the same as down around km.  8+, just rather open oak and pine with very dense brushy understory.  Of course, the birding is till good here.  I just don't recommend going more than a couple km.  beyond the Microondas side road.

Nothing has changed at the El Floripondio spot (although it's now once again signed as such, not San Gabriel), but the gate up the Microondas Viboras seems to be permanently open now.  Up at the saddle below the microondas (about 6 km) we found a CINNAMON-BELLIED FLOWERPIERCER nest with two recently hatched chicks on January 20.

At the Puerto Los Mazos site near Autlán (now signed as Sierra Manantlán Biosphere Reserve), the gate, only 50 m from the highway, is locked.  The people who live at the small fruit stand (and broom-making factory) have a key.  They remind you that it's private property, but then will either give you the key or open the gate for you.  You need the key to re-close the lock, so after driving through the gate and locking it behind you, you have to walk the key back to the house.  If you're on foot, there's no problem walking around the gate.  The birding was excellent, and the habitat was beautiful.  There were a few MEXICAN WOODNYMPHS among the swarms of BERYLLINE HUMMINGBIRDS, but they almost never perched for good views.  On the 4th I saw a CRESTED GUAN here just past the radio towers, but it was very shy.

One other change is that the northern end of the Periférico at Ciudad Guzmán is under water and impassible.  This makes for excellent birding of the lake and marshes as there is no traffic!  To get here, just drive around the barriers at the mid-point of the Periférico (due west of the Zócalo).

Now a couple of bird reports:

At the hotel I stayed at in Guadalajara on Jan 17th was a YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER, likely one of just a few Jalisco records.  The hotel was the Tapatio, a few km. towards town from the airport on top of the tall hill that separates the two parts of the main road.

On Jan.  22 we saw a male BLUE SEEDEATER ("SLATE-BLUE SEEDEATER") along the road to La Maria north of Colima City and Comala.  It was in the same bamboo-filed canyon that Howell mentions for this species.  We were at N19º26.349', W103º42.793', 1234m, which was just below a small one-car pullout about halfway down the canyon.  We pished and tooted up quite a bit of activity from the undergrowth, and the bird sat up in the open for about 5 seconds.

Rich Hoyer
Tucson, AZ

Senior Field Leader, WINGS, Inc.