As well as hosting over 40 Mexican endemics, this tour is packed with lots of other wonderful birds, sometimes including a roosting Stygian Owl. Photo: Steve Howell
Mexico is noted for its spectacular and varied avifauna and its remarkable diversity of habitats. Nowhere is this variety better represented than in the tiny state of Colima and surrounding areas of Jalisco. We’ll travel from pristine Pacific beaches to deliciously cool montane forests on the Volcanes del Colima, whose majestic twin peaks dominate the region. Some 400 species occur in this small area, including more than 40 of Mexico’s 100 or so endemics – ranging from the flashy Red-breasted Chat to the enigmatic Balsas Screech-Owl. The short distances involved translate into a delightfully unhurried itinerary, making this trip a splendid opportunity to become familiar with a fascinating region.
Day 1: The tour begins at about 7:00 pm with a meeting followed by dinner in our Barra de Navidad hotel. Night in Barra de Navidad.
Day 2: We’ll spend a day exploring the coastal lowlands within easy reach of our hotel. Habitats range from mangrove to thorn forest, and some of the birds we should see are Lilac-crowned Parrot, White-throated Magpie-Jay, San Blas Jay, Orange-breasted Bunting, Ruddy-breasted Seedeater, Golden-cheeked Woodpecker, and with luck perhaps the elusive Red-breasted Chat and Rosy Thrush-Tanager. Night in Barra de Navidad.
Day 3: We’ll spend the morning birding in semi-deciduous forest, home to Golden Crowned Emerald, Flammulated Flycatcher, and West Mexican Chachalaca. After lunch we’ll drive inland to Ciudad Guzmán, a town at about 5000 feet at the extreme southwest corner of the Mexican central plateau. This will be our base for three nights, allowing us easy access to the forested slopes of the twin volcanoes that dominate the region. Night in Ciudad Guzmán.
Days 4-5: We’ll have two full days to explore the twin massifs of the Volcán de Fuego (Volcano of Fire) and the Volcán de Nieve (Volcano of Ice) and the surrounding plains. The former peak, still steaming, rises to 12,500 feet, the latter to over 14,000 feet. We’ll bird in lushly forested montane forests whose valleys echo with the rollicking choruses of Long-tailed Wood-Partridge and the cascading melodies of Brown-backed Solitaire. Numerous mixed-species feeding flocks often hold such gems as Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo, Gray-collared Becard, Red Warbler, and Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer. In addition, there are skulkers such as Blue Mockingbird, Golden-browed Warbler, and Collared Towhee, as well as 15 species of hummingbird and such rarities as Aztec Thrush and Great Swallow-tailed Swift. In some areas, a drier, more open pine-oak forest hosts a rather different avifauna, including Olive Warbler, Buff-breasted Flycatcher, and Black-headed Siskin. The surrounding plains are home to White-tailed Hawks and Crested Caracaras, and nearby lakes add a diversity in the form of migrant waterbirds and spectacular flocks of Yellow-headed Blackbirds. Nights in Ciudad Guzmán.
Steve’s amazing knowledge of the birds of Mexico, his superb hearing and recognition of every chip and call note, his patience and obvious enjoyment of people, made this trip what it was. He has his procedures and routines which guarantees no one misses anything that’s around. It is what I hoped to receive from the guy who wrote the book on Mexican birds. D. Richardson, 2014.
Day 6: After a final morning birdwatching on the slopes of the volcanoes we’ll drive to Ciudad Colima, capital of the state of Colima. The thorn forest near town is home to several interesting species, and we’ll stay out after dark in search of Balsas Screech-Owl and Buff-collared Nightjar. Night in Ciudad Colima.
Day 7: We’ll spend today on the hillsides above Ciudad Colima where birds we’ll be seeking include Lesser Roadrunner, Dwarf and Black-capped Vireos. Night in Ciudad Colima.
Day 8: After a morning around Ciudad Colima we’ll depart for Manzanillo, Mexico’s most important Pacific Coast port. We’ll arrive at our hotel in mid-afternoon where the beach or pool may prove irresistible. Night in Manzanillo.
Day 9: The tour ends this morning in Manzanillo.
Updated: 17 November 2020