Red-breasted Chat by Michael Retter
San Blas and Northwest Mexico: 
Red Warblers, Yellow Grosbeaks, and Blue-footed Boobies

Forthcoming Departures:
23 February-4 March 2007 (10 days)
$TBA per person from Mazatlán
Single Supplement: $TBA

22 February-3 March 2008 (10 days)
$TBA per person from Mazatlán
Single Supplement: $TBA

In addition to some of the most breathtaking scenery Mexico has to offer, our San Blas-Northwest Mexico tour gives you chances to see over forty Mexican endemics, eleven of which are found in Northwest Mexico and nowhere else.

Magnificent FrigatebirdsDay 1:  Arrive in the coastal resort town of Mazatlán.  You we be greeted by your guide and the frigatebirds, and be taken to the hotel for the night.

Day 2:  La Noria to Capilla de Taxte.  This morning we will bird the arid Northwestern thorn-forest.  Endemics we'll target include Elegant Quail, Black-throated Magpie-Jay, Purplish-backed Jay, Lilac-crowned Parrot, Golden-cheeked Woodpecker, Black-vented Oriole, and Rufous-bellied Chachalaca.  With some luck, we may catch a Mexican Beaded Lizard crossing the road.  We'll spend the night in Capilla de Taxte.

Crescent-chested WarblerDays 3-4:  The Durango Highway.  We'll bird various sites along this well-known highway the next two days.  The most famous is Barranca Ranch Liebre, a high-elevation pine-oak site that is the only readily accessible location in the world to see the floppy-crested Tufted Jay.  The species list here is incredibly long:  White-striped Woodcreeper, Mountain Trogon, Red-headed Tanager, "Gray-eared" Red Warbler, Crescent-chested Warbler, Rufous-crowned Brush-finch, Golden-browed Warbler, and Tufted Flycatcher to name a few.  Stygian Owl, Eared Quetzal, and Thick-billed Parrot all occur here but tend to be quite elusive.  We must be sure to keep an eye to the sky:  White-naped Swift, the world's largest with a nearly 2-foot wingspan, can often be seen cruising just over the treetops. Time will also be spent along the Panuco Road, which offers lower elevation foothill species like Golden Vireo, Lesser Roadrunner, Golden-crowned Emerald, Russet-crowned Motmot, Cinnamon Hummingbird, Colima Pygmy-Owl, Military Macaw, Blue Mockingbird, Orange-fronted Parakeet, Grayish Saltator, and Rusty-crowned Ground-Sparrow.  Nights in Capilla de Taxte.

Day 5:  To San Blas.  We may do some early-morning cleanup birding along the highway, after which we'll head south to San Blas.

Tufted FlycatcherDays 6 and 8:  San Blas.  Famous for decades as Mexico's winter birding hotspot, this small, cozy coastal fishing village offers plenty of birding within a short drive.  Habitats are varied, and so are the birds.  Some of our targets include Mexican Parrotlet, Cinnamon-rumped Seedeater, Blue Bunting, Godman's Euphonia, Citreoline Trogon, Yellow-winged Cacique, Red-breasted Chat, Fan-tailed Warbler, Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, and Rufous-backed Robin.  We'll be sure to take a river cruise up into the mangroves to look for Boat-billed Heron, Crane Hawk, Rufous-necked Wood-Rail, Common Potoo, Mangrove Vireo, Mangrove Warbler, and Mangrove Cuckoo.  Shorebirding around town is often productive and may get us looks at Collared Plover.  There's even offshore birding to do, and we may well see two species of booby.  These two days will be quite leisurely, and afternoon outings are optional.  Nights in San Blas.

Orange-fronted ParakeetDay 7:  La Bajada.  Not far from San Blas is a nicely-wooded coffee finca offering many new species for our trip, as well as nice flocks of wintering migrants.  Some of the more popular migrants seen here include Varied Bunting, Black-capped Vireo, and Flame-colored Tanager.  As for resident birds, Crested Guan, Slate-throated Whitestart, Brown-backed Solitaire, and San Blas Jay are all possibilities.  The hummingbirds here are a real treat.  Mexican Hermit, Mexican Woodnymph, and Sparkling-tailed Woodstar occur here, and the first two are range-restricted Mexican endemics.  Though elusive, we'll certainly try to see a Rosy Thrush-Tanager.  Night in San Blas.

Day 9:  Back to Mazatlán.  Before we head back north, we may try to do some cleanup birding around San Blas.

Day 10:  Departure.  Today you will depart the airport for home.

CLIMATE:  Varied.  Though it seldom gets too hot, cold, or wet this time of year, it's best to be prepared.  It could be chilly at upper elevations in the morning, and warm at lower elevations midday.

DIFFICULTY:  Moderately easy.  Most of our time will be spent walking on roads, but there is a small, pleasant hike up a trail at Barranca Rancho Liebre.

ACCOMMODATION:  Quite comfortable.  The hotel in Capilla de Taxte is basic but good; the hotel in San Blas is excellent. 

For more information, contact Michael Retter at mlretter AT