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11 - 20 December 1997
23 November - 02 December 2000

by Edward C. Hall

This is a collective report for trips to Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Mexico during the periods Nov.  23 - Dec. 2, 2000 and Dec. 11 - 20, 1997 (before I knew these archives existed).  Both were "non-birding" vacations with a non-birding spouse.  Nevertheless, I got in a total of about 20 hours of dedicated birding plus many hours of "stealth" birding with compact binoculars in the course of more pedestrian, tourist pursuits.

On both occasions, birding in the AM was the only way.  It gets too hot - and the sun too intense - by 1100 - certainly by noon.  Earliest practical start time is 0700 in terms of light.  There were almost no insects.  Crocodiles were in evidence.

My dedicated birding hours were mostly in Ixtapa.  In my experience, there are three key, close by places to cover in this area: the Marina Golf Course (periphery, especially the east side and the south end such as where the concrete drainage channel comes in from the east - enter by finding a path thru the brush across the street from and slightly north of the Radisson Resort), the Las Palmas or Palmas Real Golf Course (see Tim and Chris Barnekov's - to whom I am indebted - report of Jan.  20, 1997), and the area at and around the Westin Hotel.

As to the latter, this is probably your best bet for some of the more interesting endemics - in my case, e.g.: Citreoline Trogan, Squirrel Cuckoo, Lesser Ground Cuckoo, Russet-crowned Motmot, Cinnamon Hummingbird, Orange-breasted Bunting, W. Mx. Chachalaca.  Take a cab or walk to the Westin.  No one will hassle you there.  Indeed, a number of people recognized me as a birder and asked questions about the birds they were seeing.  Go in the front entrance.  Turn right past the front desk to the elevators to the beach.  Push the beach button.  This gets you to an intermediate level above the beach where you can walk the length of the base of the hotel on a paved path looking into the jungle at eye level all the way to the hotel's swimming pools beyond.  (If you have time, walk the beach below, looking up into the forested hillside, then walk up the paved path at the east end.) After walking around the pools, swing uphill past the tennis courts and head out the hotel's access road down a short hill to a stop sign.  At this point, there are two roads leading to the right uphill into the forest along which you can safely walk and bird.  The first road is accessed simply by turning right at the stop sign.  The better road is accessed by scrambling up the short embankment directly across from the stop sign to a higher road and again turning right and heading up slope working the sides.

A note on the Palmas Golf Course.  I was a little confused by the directions in the Barnekov report but agree that the large pond is your primary objective.  The course entrance is, indeed, a long block south on the main drag from the Barcelo (formerly, Sheraton) Hotel, the southern-most hotel on hotel row.  Turn 90 degrees east into the entrance and proceed about 100 yards straight ahead to and thru the clubhouse to the cart path in back.  Go left on the cart path to where the path make a 90 degree turn to the right (east) at the first tee.  Go straight ahead past the maintenance building.  Anytime after this, turn 90 degrees right and cross the fairway to a forested area.  Go left or east hugging the forested area as it eventually swings right or south past some condos and eventually gets you to the ponds.  Coming out, you can follow the Barnekov directions through the fence (I ran into to some large, unfriendly dogs - where's a croc when you need one?) or retrace your steps as I did.  This time, follow the forest edge past where you first encountered it all the way around to the SW part of the course.  Then work west toward the ocean, eventually passing through the golf cart underpass to the portion of the course on the west side of the main drag (Paseo Ixtapa).  Either proceed all the way to the beach or come back through the underpass, past the tennis courts and pool (many Ani's) and out the main entrance onto Paseo Ixtapa.

Following is a complete list of all the birds I ID'd on these visits.  Following that, some probable, less than positively ID'd sightings are listed.

Booby - Blue-footed
Pelican - Brown
Cormorant - Neotropical
Frigatebird - Mag.
Heron - Grt. Blue
Egret - Great
Heron - Lit. Blue
Night Heron - Yellow Crwnd.
Ibis - White
Stork - White
Teal - Blue Wngd.
Shoveler - No.
Vulture - Turkey
Kite - Grey Headed *
Hawk - Crane
Kestral - Am.
Falcon - Peregrine
Chachalaca - W. Mx.
Gallinule - Purple
Moorhen - Common
Coot - Am.
Plover - Semipalm.
Stilt - Blk.-Necked
Avocet - Am.
Jacana - No.
Yellowlegs - Grtr.
Tattler - Wandering
Sandpiper - Sptd.
Sandpiper - Least
Dowitcher - LB
Snipe - Com.
Phalarope - Rd. Nkd.
Gull - Laughing
Tern - Caspian
Skimmer - Black
Dove - Rock
Gound-Dove - Com.
Parrot - Yellow Hdd.
Cuckoo - Squirrel
         Lesr. Ground
Ani - Grv. Billed
Swift - White-Collared
Hummingbird - Cinnamon
Trogan, Citreoline
Motmot, Russet-Crowned
Kingfisher - Ringed
Woodpecker - Golden Cheeked
Flycatcher - Pacific Slope
             Brwn Crested
Kiskadee - Grt.
Kingbird - Tropical
           Thick Billed
Martin - Grey-Breasted
Swallow - Mangrove
          No. Rough-Wing.
Magpie-Jay - White-Throated
Wren - Rufous-naped
       No. House
       Grey-Breasted Wood
Gnatcatcher - Blue Grey
Thrush (Robin) - Rufous-Bckd.
Mockingbird - No.
Vireo - Mangrove
Warbler - Or. Crwnd.
          B and W
          Yell. Rumped
          Comm Yellow-throat
          Y. B. Chat
Cardinal - No.
Grosbeak - Blue
Bunting - Orange-Brstd.
Seedeater - White-Collared
Sparrow - Stripe-hdd.
Grackle - Grt. Tailed
Cowbird - Brnzd.
Oriole - Orchard
Cacique - Yellow-Winged
Sparrow - House.


Heron - Black Crowned
Hawk - Red Tailed
Tern - Com. &/or For.
Parrot - White Fronted
Flycatcher - Ash Throated
Kingbird - Cassins

 * I believe that the only bird listed above that is a bit out of range per Howell and Webb is the Kite.  This bird was observed for a decently long time in excellent light as it glided about 100 ft.  or less directly overhead at the Palmas Real Golf Course.  It was in the juv.  dark morph plummage exact in every detail to drawing 1a / Plate 12 of H.  and W.  There is nothing else depicted in H and W with which I can see any confusion.  However, H and W.'s text description of this bird/plummage seems to vary from their drawing.  I would appreciate receiving input regarding this matter.

Edward C.  Hall
Escondido, CA 

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