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First Birding Tour (1 Viewer)


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Not really my birding day (yet), but I wasn't sure where else to post this. I am hoping to go on what will be my first ever birding tour. I have contacted Julian of Explora Calocitta Tours. The trip would be to the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountains, so a different ecosystem. One of the possible lifers I might see would be a Mexican Trogon. I have not yet looked up other possible new birds. I hope to wander a bit on my own because I do not put birds on my life list that are not found by me. Still, even if I can't put something on my list, it would be nice to see them. He also talks about flora and other fauna, so it would be a good educational trip. From initial contact, it sounds as if I am the only person going on the days Explora offer, if so, I'm hoping the cost won't be too prohibitive as the cost goes down with more people. I have emailed some other sailors in the marina to see if I can get some people to go, not just for cost, but because I would love to support this group. I hope they are successful in their endeavors. I will update as I get more information.
Oooh.... that sounds an amazing tour Sue. I do hope you can get some of your fellow sailors to join you lass, it'll be great re-living the experience with them afterwards too.

Gosh you are strict with your Life List, aren't you LOL. I can understand your reasoning though, so absolutely no criticism from me - wish I'd been brave enough to think of that!! The furthest I go along those lines is I like to think I'd be able to recognise it myself if I saw another, if not it doesn't go on the Life List but will be on a "seen" list/trip list.
Julian will be at the hotel tomorrow and I will talk to him then. I talked to five yachties today and all of them are leaving very soon. Hurricane season officially starts June 1st. The Canadian Snowbirds are migrating and three of my fellow Californians are leaving next week. They are all too busy preparing their boats to be able to go. It's too bad because the tour would appeal to non-birders also. The site is a coffee plantation run by women. Ironically, while out for dinner tonight, we met some Canadians who have been, and they loved it. They went with a non-birding tour. I asked if they were up for it again, but they declined.
There are a few reasons my bird list rules evolved the way they did. It's funny though, the few birds that were pointed out to me that I left off the list were eventually added when I saw them years later. I think I have two on the list that my husband saw first in Australia and pointed them out. I kept those. Also, there was a man named Charlie that I met in the botanical gardens in Gibraltar. He was the resident ornithologist(?) or biologist(?) there. I can't remember his official title. He was delightful. I had just snapped a shot of a Melodius Warbler, and he walked up and asked what I saw. We got to talking and he told be that he had just seen a Common Waxbill the day before. He walked me to the area where he had seen it. He did alert me to it and took me to where he had seen it, but I saw it before he did so I figured it was a keeper.
Some of the reasons for my rules were due to things said to me on BF. ;) Bottom line--I just figured that birding was my hobby and I should be the one who participated in my hobby. I didn't start out birding like most birders. I started birding while we were sailing around the world; it kept me somewhat sane. With very few exceptions, I was always alone.
Went yesterday with young Julian; it was only the two of us. Had a great day and he was so accommodating. He let me wander and scan on my own, held my camera and grabbed my hand a few times as we navigated the stones across a few creeks, and took me to areas where he knew the Trogons were. A few times he came up next to me and pointed to alert me about a bird without telling me what it was. Fortunately, I even saw those on my own during the day. I did get three lifers: Elegant Trogon, Mountain Trogon and Mexican Hermit and will have a clear conscience putting them on my life list.;) The hummer was so close as it blew past me, I could hear the wings and feel the air movement as it went by. I had a great time and hope to go out with him again.
I will try to get a short write up done soon, but for now, I will put up contact information should any of you need a guide for Jalisco/Colima, Mexico. Western Mexico has some pretty good birds.
Explora Calocitta. Julian Villegas
[email protected] On Facebook under Explora Calocitta
Elegant Trogan is the bird that got me into birding. Friends came to AZ from CA and wanted to try and find one in the Huachuca Mountains. We didn’t see one, but I became hooked on birds because of trying. Took me 4 years to see my first one.
Elegant Trogan is the bird that got me into birding. Friends came to AZ from CA and wanted to try and find one in the Huachuca Mountains. We didn’t see one, but I became hooked on birds because of trying. Took me 4 years to see my first one.
Well done! Not so easy to see one in Arizona. It's a beautiful bird; like all the Trogons. I only got quick looks, but they were long enough to see the bird very well, and we saw them and the Mexican Trogans several times. I tried to memorize what I might see before going, but I couldn't remember if it was the Elegant or Mexican (endemic) that had the green tail rather than the brown. I had to wait till I got home to find which was which. Also had good views of the female Mexican. There were too many possible endemic Hummingbirds for me to even bother trying to memorize. The Hermit was easy though due to the super long white central retrices trailing behind. Still, when I saw the very patterned face (didn't see the bill) and the long, split tail, my mind mixed the face of the Plain-capped Starthroat with the tail of the Golden-crowned Emerald (two birds I have seen here in Barra a few times), I thought I must have seen a Starthroat. Thankfully, the Hermit was unmistakable when I looked it up. Those brilliant white trailing feathers couldn't have been more obvious! It was an extremely quick view, hardly "seen" at all. Others would have been more problematic. If I have a chance to go back, I will focus more on the hummers. I am used to having the luxury of wandering in a place for weeks or longer. It is the end of the dry season now and I would like to see that forest at the end of the rainy season. I would really like to go with Explora Calocitta to the Sierra de Manantlan Biosphere Reserve in November. We usually have a group at our place for Thanksgiving, but they might have to cook their own turkey this year!
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We saw a 'Cinnamon-bellied Saltator' in Cuzalapa. I had it on the list of possible lifers for the trip. I got the name off an ebird list. I didn't realise that it was what I had previously known as a Greyish Saltator. It was split. I do have a 'Greyish Saltator' on my Barra list, so my first sighting here will become the lifer unless I have seen it in another place where it is considered Cinnamon-bellied rather than Greyish. I have to wait to get home to check my hand-written life list to see where I first the Greyish. Pretty sure I saw it in the Carribean and Panama, but I don't know where I first saw it as a Cinnamon-bellied. Edit: I had to re-write this whole post because it was so unclear. Sorry.
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I met Julian at the Water Taxi stand in Barra at 4:50 in the morning. The marina and hotel are across a lagoon from the town of Barra, so at 4:45, I was taking a panga ride. It was dark and I was very glad to see that Julian was there waiting. The drive to the foothills took about an hour and a half. We saw a few Great Egrets on the banks of a river when we drove over a bridge. We pulled over once on the way and to see some Trogons which were Citreoline.

We were headed to a shade coffee plantation in the small village of Cuzalapa. Here is an informative piece about the plantation the indigenous ladies who started it: Color of the Earth: The Cuzalapa Coffee Plantation – The Travelling Lady

There are a few companies who offer non-birding tours of the coffee plantation.

The tour included breakfast and lunch at the Cuzalapa Coffee business/restaurant, but they wouldn't be open until 10:00, so Julian took me to an area close-by that was not part of the plantation, but where he knew the trogons might be. We saw lots of Rufous-backed and White-throated Thrushes around the small river we picked our way across. Julian pointed out the calls of the Mexican (Mountain) Trogons, which I had never heard. Not quiet and subdued like the Ctreoline or other trogons I have heard. He has great eyes and ears, so he would be really good for those who would like a more 'hands on" guide. I should point out that his English is excellent.

We got quite busy in the fields edged with trees and didn't get to the restaurant till about 11:00. Had a very nice breakfast with a very refreshing cucumber drink, and of course. a coffee.

On the walk around the plantation, we needed to cross a few more creeks. In one of them, Julian noticed some large cat tracks in the mud. A minute later, a truck drove through the water and erased them. He had gotten photos with measurements and later confirmed that they were the tracks of a Jaguarundi. Jaguarundi - Wikipedia

We had a very late lunch and I bought coffee and some ground Mojote (The Nahua of Jalisco and hope through coffee: Organización “Color de la Tierra”) before heading home. Missed the Grey-crowned Woody and a bunch of Hummingbirds, but it was a leisurely birding day and I enjoyed it. Attached photo of the owners of Explora Calocitta, Julian and Kenia.

Citreoline Trogon

Mexican Hermit

Black-bellied Whistling Duck

Black Vulture

Turkey Vulture

Common Black Hawk

Russet crowned Motmot

W. Mexican Chachalaca

White-winged dove

White-tipped dove--heard

Inca Dove

Ruddy Ground dove

Eurasian Collared Dove


Happy wren

Smooth-billed ani

Shiny cowbird

Barn Swallow

Green Kingfisher

Golden-cheeked Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpecker

Boat-billed Flycatcher

Great Kisskadee

Social Flycatcher

Brown-crested Flycatcher

Nutting's Flycatcher

Cassin's Kingbird?

Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher

Blue-black Grassquit

Masked Tityra

White-throated Magpie Jay

Rufous-backed Thrush

White-throated Thrush

Yellow-green Vireo

Flame-colored Tanager

Yellow-winged Cacique

Streak-backed Oriole

Yellow Warbler


  • Julian and Kenia(1).JPG
    Julian and Kenia(1).JPG
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