Tuesday 7 April 2015


At the end of February Clare and I managed to get a holiday! A few days on the Pacific coast of Mexico was perfect. Busman's holiday or what? We still went birding most mornings along a quiet road inland from the beach hotel. Here we found a Black-throated Magpie Jay - or rather several. This is one of the many endemics of the region. 

Also endemic is the Yellow-winged Cacique - very common along this coast. Normally looking well groomed, this one was just having a bad feather day. The feeder at the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Garden was the location here.

 In the same spot, but much more shy and retiring, was this San Blas Jay, which never stopped to feed in the open. Instead, it quickly made off with a beakful and hid. Around San Blas (a town to the north), the jay has become scarce, but there was a family group in our hotel grounds.

This is the quiet dirt road where we would stroll as the sun rose. Only once did we see these White-nosed Coatis - but there were 34 of them, all in single file. And, in a hurry. Most mornings we never saw a vehicle. 

We called it Bunting Road, since we saw four species of bunting along it, mostly feeding on grass seeds. This is the male Blue Bunting - the others were migrant Painted and Varied, and the lovely endemic Orange-breasted. 

Above the grassy verges were a number of gumbo-limbo trees, in fruit. The caciques and this Elegant Trogon would come to feed here - sometimes with the yellow-bellied Citreoline Trogon too. The tree (Bursera simaruba) is also called 'tourist tree' as its sunburnt bark is always peeling!

This female Pale-billed Woodpecker lived in the hotel grounds, with its mate. Once we saw them with a pair of very similar Lineated Woodpeckers. Between the four of them they soon made a mess of a rotting tree like this one.

This Yellow-crowned Night Heron is trying to subdue a small octopus that it found in a rock pool along the beach. At the moment Clare pressed the shutter, its head is totally upside-down, with the neck twisted through 180 degrees. It soon swallowed the unfortunate mollusc. Along the beach we found a number of shorebirds, Heerman's Gulls, Royal Terns, Brown Pelicans and Magnificent Frigatebirds. 

Banderas Bay is famous as a breeding ground for Humpback Whales. This population migrates up to Alaska in April. There were usually a few mother-and-calf pairs in view in the distance - from just outside our room. Many thanks to Clare for taking the photos and being a great holiday companion!