Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Birding in Puerto Vallarta - Vallarta Botanical Garden

The Vallarta Botanical Gardens is a 20-acre garden that was selected in 2013 as one of the "Top 10 North American Gardens Worth Traveling For" by the North American Garden Tourism Conference's International Tourism Award Jury.  It's primarily tropical dry forest, but highlights many oaks, bromeliads, agaves, cactus and wild palms.  It was arranged to have lunch here after the morning field trip.  Because it was a hotter part of the day, the feeders were most active.  Under heavy canopy we did see a few other birds, too - see below. 

Yellow-billed Caciques are a constant companion -
at the Gardens, at a hotel, in a parking lot - anywhere.
The feathers at the crown can display in many
different arrangements.
The feeders are an amazing and welcome part of the stop.  They even have artfully placed branches for birds to perch on - and photographers to take advantage of!

Golden-cheeked Woodpecker. 

Male (top) and female.  Can really
see the difference in plumage.
The male has more red/orange
on head.

What really is sexier than a San Blas Jay? 

Why - three San Blas Jays, of course!

Orange-fronted Parakeets were never
far away. 

Wow - another sexy bird.  Masked Tityra.  Males have
more black on the head.  Understated seduction - that
just says Stephen Amell to me.  The mask (Arrow)

Female Masked Tityra.

You'll have to take my word that there is a
Squirrel Cuckoo in here.  Face is bottom left - tail is
jacked up and more to the right. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Birding in Puerto Vallarta - Junta y Veranos

I will borrow liberally from the Vallarta Bird Festival website to describe each area and habitat for the posts.  The Juntas y Los Veranos area was the confluence of five habitats; upper edge of the tropical deciduous forest (yes, that does happen - tropical forests with trees that lose their leaves!), the lower edge of Cabo Corriente's oak zone, patches of Sinaloan Thom forest, some agricultural land, and riparian woodland.  It made for a great day of birding for many species specific to the different areas. 

Inca doves.

What a great find!  Orange-breasted Buntings!  At least
two pair, and very actively hunting for bugs.  The
photos did not turn out great, but it was clear what
the birds were. One of the guides for the festival said
he had never seen the species here in this area before!

This female had not only bugs, but looked to be
collecting nesting material!

This is a juvenile plumage Gray Hawk. 
Luckily we did see adults of this great
raptor later in the trip.

This is a juvenile Zone-tailed Hawk.  The bars in the tail
were seen in flight.

Photos a little out of order - this is
an adult Zone-tailed Hawk.

Black vultures were easy
to tell in flight and perched from the Turkey
Vultures.  Shorter, fatter wing, shorter
tail and the white patches just at the

Though it looks like a series patched together,
all of these vultures were in the same
warm air current.

Two Turkey Vultures.

Little cheating here; this West Mexican
Chachalaca was seen just before this trip, but I wanted
to represent it!

One of my favorites!  Great Kiskadee!  This voice
was one I heard in my sleep starting the first night.
Looks like a shrike head on a beefy kingbird. 

Little Blue Heron.

Okay - some birds put a little color in
your cheek and make your heart rate pick
up just a bit.  The Black-throated Magpie Jays
have that effect on you.  They are pretty
much the Chris Hemsworth of birds. 

Another specialty for the area - Russet-crowned Motmot.
This individual was very amenable.

The tail, with its interesting "notches", is
created by the birds themselves. 

Orange-fronted Parakeet. 

Did not get great shots of this bird last trip, so was
very excited to see it often.  A little scruffy (see the
feather at the back of the neck), a little mysterious,
and a little hint of danger.  The Chris Cornell of birds
for sure!

Citreoline Trogon.  Definitely a great
bird to see.  This individual called
often in our presence.