PARROTS OF NORTHERN MEXICO 2018
Pre-night: Sunday, July 22ND – We will organise lodging for the group near the airport in CHIHUAHUA CITY [CUU], Chihuahua State, Mexico.
There are two options for arrival in CUU... one is to fly round trip from Europe into Mexico City [MEX], and then take a one-way flight from MEX to CUU. There are two terminals in Mexico City so book on Interjet airlines if arriving into Terminal One, and on AeroMexico if arriving into Terminal Two. The second routing option is to fly round-trip into America, and then onward from the USA into CUU. American Airlines leaves from Dallas, TX [DFW], and United Airlines leaves from Houston, TX [IAH]. Your one-way return flight will be from Monterrey [MTY] back to your international arrival city, and then onward to Europe.
Day One: Monday, July 23RD – the group departs from Chihuahua City after breakfast for a 4-5 hour drive to Madera, Chihuahua (a few birding stops and lunch are included). The day is primarily a travel-day, though Mexican Duck, Swainson's Hawk, Greater Roadrunner, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Lucifer Hummingbird, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Cave Swallow, Summer Tanager, Bell's Vireo, and Verdin can often be seen along the route. That night, if the weather allows, you can look for calling owls, and though not always successful it is often worth the effort. You have two nights in a comfortable hotel in this timber city.
Day Two: Tuesday, July 24TH - entering the mesas of the eastern Sierra Madre Occidental you journey to a protected parrot reserve. The paramount goal of the Mexico Parrot Tour is to see both of world’s only two Rhynchopsitta parrot species during your visit - the first of these two spectacular parrots to be seen today! Although much of this area has suffered from mechanized logging there is still a fair amount of fine birding habitat. The plan is to arrive by mid-morning for a first look at Thick-billed Parrot (Rhynchopsitta pachyrhyncha), either near nesting cavities or in the air as they forage for food. Hopefully Eared Quetzal can also be located during the morning of birding. Following a late lunch those that wish will return to the canyon lands for continued study of the parrots and birding for added species such as Mountain Pygmy-Owl, Cooper's Hawk, Mountain Trogon, Greater Pewee, Pine Flycatcher, Mexican Chickadee, Black-eared Bushtit, Olive, Crescent-chested, Grace's, and Red-faced warblers, Eastern Bluebird, Chipping Sparrow, and Hepatic Tanager.
Day Three: Wednesday, July 25TH – Optional owling before dawn followed by a long travel day of about nine hours south to Durango City, Durango.
Day Four: Thursday, July 26TH – you will travel only a hundred miles or so today, but the birding and scenery are both really spectacular. This day gives you a first chance at Military Macaw (Ara militaris mexicanus), as well as some spectacular birds like White-eared Hummingbird, Tufted Jay, Red-headed Tanager, Red Warbler, Tufted Flycatcher, Rufouscapped and Green-striped brush-finches, Blue Mockingbird, Russet Nightingale-Thrush, Gray Silky-flycatcher, Brown Creeper, Spotted Wren, and Striped Sparrow. You stay two nights in Copala, Sinaloa.
Day Five: Friday, July 27TH – this day focuses on seeing well the Military Macaw (Ara militaris mexicanus). The birds will either be low (near Copala) or higher up the mountains (El Palmito); both locations will be visited during the day.
Day Six: Saturday, July 28TH - morning birding for Rufous-bellied Chachalaca, Blackthroated Magpie-Jay, Purplish-backed Jay, Rufous-backed Robin, Citreoline Trogon, Blackcapped Gnatcatcher, and Happy Wren. We will also keep an eye out for White-fronted Parrot (Amazona albifrons saltuensis), which along with all of the other Psittacidae in Mexico have suffered greatly from the cage-bird trade. During the afternoon the group drives to San Blas, Nayarit for a three-night stay.
Days Seven/Eight/Nine: Sunday/Monday/Tuesday, July 29TH/30TH/31ST – this area is rich in birdlife though your focus will be four species of Psittacidae that occur in the surrounding countryside - Lilac-crowned Parrot (Amazona finschi), White-fronted Parrot (Amazona albifrons saltuensis), Mexican Parrotlet (Forpus c. cyanopgius), and Orange-fronted Parakeet (Eupsittula canicularis clarae). The hotel here is also a lovely environment where one easily recharges for the next section of birds and birding. Generally speaking the parrotlets search out fruiting trees, the smaller amazons prefer the mangroves, the larger amazons feed in the foothills, while parakeets prefer arid mixed woodlands... so this means a full day birding in hopes of seeing these beautiful birds. Along the way numerous waders and herons will be seen, plus forest related species like Elegant Quail, Great Black Hawk, Elegant
Trogon, Gray-crowned and Golden-cheeked woodpeckers, Sinaloa Wren, Yellow-winged Cacique, Russet-crowned Motmot, Fan-tailed Warbler, and Ivory billed Woodcreeper.
Day Ten: Wednesday, August 01ST –– an early morning departure via a loop route to once again look for Military Macaw. This is followed by a long, but interesting, drive across the southern part of Mexico's Northern Highlands... lots of hours in the van this day... but it is worth it as an entirely new section of Mexico awaits you! One night in San Luis Potosi, SLP.
Day Eleven: Thursday, August 02ND – dropping from the Northern Highlands to the Caribbean slope you arrive in the lowlands at Ciudad Valles, Tamaulipas where you stay one night at an ex-hacienda with thermal spring converted into bathing pools. Here you should see Olive-throated Parakeet (Eupsittula n. vicinalis), and possibly Red-lored Parrot (Amazona a. autmnalis) or White-fronted Parrot (Amazona a. nana). In addition Boatbilled Heron can be seen easily on day roosts. Other species present include White-bellied Wren, Scrub Euphonia Altamira Oriole, and Couch's Kingbird.
Day Twelve: Friday, August 03RD – morning birding on the hotel grounds followed by breakfast before you head north to El Naranjo, San Luis Potosi for two nights. During the late afternoon the plan is to drive upriver using back-roads to look for Green Parakeet (Psittacara h. holochlorus) and Red-crowned or Green-cheeked Parrot (Amazona viridigenalis). There appears to be a regular nightly flyover of parrots just before dusk as they head to a common roosting area.
Day Thirteen: Saturday, August 04TH – Early the next morning you visit the mid and upper elevation forests of the Sierra Madre Oriental for targets like Thicket Tinamou, Singing Quail, Gartered Trogon, Gray-collared Becard, Brown-capped Vireo, Spotted Wren, Blackheaded Nightingale Thrush, and Fan-tailed Warbler. Early in the day Red-crowned Parrot can often be encountered in while perched in pairs in the upper elevation forests.
Day Fourteen: Sunday, August 05TH – following the morning you bird for the parrots once more, return for brunch and then drive north to Gomez Farias, Tamaulipas where you will stay for two nights. This is a great location to see White-crowned Parrot (Pionus senilis), Red Lored Parrot (Amazona a. autumnalis), and with luck, Military Macaw (Ara m. mexicanus). It is also a good location for Bronze-winged Woodpecker, Curve-winged Sabrewing, Azure-crowned Hummingbird, Rusty Sparrow, and Audubon's Oriole.
Day Fifteen: Monday, August 06TH – you are still south of the Tropic of Cancer so birds [less than 8 hours drive from the US border] continue to have a distinctively tropical look – Bluecapped Motmot, Yellow-throated Euphonia, and Black-headed Saltator. You visit the El Cielo Biosphere Reserve early the next morning with Tamaulipas Pygmy-Owl and Bronzewinged Woodpecker as targets. This is a very birdy place, where Thicket Tinamou, Crested Guan, and Singing Quail can often be seen during a morning of birding. The lower section of the reserve is great for raptors, with Ornate Hawk-Eagle and Gray Hawk nesting recently.
While here an afternoon visit to the local ‘ojo de agua’ [freshwater spring] may result in good views of parrots as well as the occasional Sungrebe.
Day Sixteen: Tuesday, August 07TH - a final morning at Gomez Farias where you attempt to see Thicket Tinamou before a late brunch and a drive of four hours to La Pesca, Tamaulipas where you stay two nights. Following an early dinner you are in the nearby woodlands for a first attempt to locate the Mexican subspecies of Yellow-headed Parrot (Amazona oratrix oratrix), and to await darkness for Tawny-collared Nightjar and Eastern Screech-Owl.
Day Seventeen: Wednesday, August 08TH – you bird Tamaulipan Scrub habitat while awaiting the morning movement of the parrots. In this forest expect to find Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed woodpeckers, White-eyed Vireo, Green and Brown jays, Black-crested Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Long-billed Thrasher, Olive Sparrow, Crimson-Collared Grosbeak, and Blue Bunting. The river mouth often has waders, terns, and herons. Even though West Nile Virus has decimated much of the population of Tamaulipas Crow this coastal zone still has a sizeable population to be easily encountered.
Day Eighteen: Thursday, August 09TH – the early morning with these gorgeous parrots before heading out for a five hour drive to Saltillo, Coahuila. Along the way there are locations for Gray-breasted Jay, Crissal Thrasher, Cactus Wren, and Cassin's Kingbird.
Day Nineteen: Friday, August 10TH – your attention turns to Worthen’s Sparrow, an extremely rare bird with a limited home range that matches almost exactly the high altitude grasslands of this region of Mexico. Following a wonderful morning in this unique habitat, amid prairie dog colonies and five species of sparrows (Botteri's, Cassin's, Black-chinned, Worthen's, and Black-throated) you visit into the nearby foothills to bird a unique patch of dry scrub for Colima Warbler and Hooded Yellowthroat. For those who wish to go out at night Common Poorwill can easily be found at dusk.
Day Twenty: Saturday, August 11TH – you visit the shaded canyons in the Sierra Madre Oriental to explore an imposing wall of shear cliffs where Maroon-fronted Parrot (Rhynchopsitta terresi) nests - your final parrot of the tour! This same location is a great area to see White-throated Swift, Blue-throated Hummingbird, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Hutton's and Plumbeous vireos, Violetgreen Swallow, Brown-backed Solitaire, Orange-billed Nightingale Thrush, Rufous-capped Warbler, Painted and Slate-throated whitestarts, and Yellow-eyed Junco. Proceeding to Monterrey, Nuevo Leon you stay the night at an airport hotel with morning shuttle service.
Departure Day: Sunday, August 12TH – you will fly either to Mexico City or the America for your connecting flight to Europe.
The all-inclusive tour price covers a full-time English speaking guide, ground transportation in a comfortable tourist van, a full-time Mexican driver; twenty-one
nights in double occupancy using comfortable hotels (July 22nd - August 11th); all meals (beginning July 23rd) and beverages daily, bottled water throughout the tour, entrance and conservation fees for all reserves and points of interest throughout, tips and government taxes for all meals, service, and lodging.
Not included are alcoholic beverages, personal items such as laundry, mini-bar, or phone calls, all pre and post-tour activities, activities of an individual nature selected during the tour, or any optional activities of the group not outlined in the itinerary. The tour begins in Chihuahua City, Mexico [CUU] and ends in Monterrey, Mexico [MTY].
Single Room - Participants can reserve a single room throughout the tour for
Climate Considerations - Even though it will be the summertime in Mexico, you may be surprised at how cool it can get at night. This is not to say that it will always be chilly, as the days should be nice and warm, but elevations run from sea level to ca. 8,500 feet (2,600m) elevation, and this will be the rainy season. Typically the rainfall is limited to afternoon thunderstorms. While along the Pacific coast a relatively short downpour during the day is usually quite lovely. Bring rain gear but do not let your mind imagine long periods of cold, hard rain. These will be welcome rains of short durations.
Health & Training - The trip is fairly easy, with a number of short walks daily but no real hiking. You will be away from the vehicle for both short and long blocks of time, but in each circumstance you will be notified ahead of time: for instance a walk of five hundred yards there and back on level ground is required to see Worthen’s Sparrow, with time away from the car generally being up to two hours.
Packing List - Layered clothing, rain gear, comfortable shoes, water bottle, flashlight or headlamp, binoculars, cameras, and personal items are all a must. A more complete list of items to pack in preparation for your tour will be sent to you in a timely fashion.