Mar 20 2016 Vallarta Botanical Gardens
I had the whole day to bird. I took the early morning bus from the old town of Puerto Vallarta. A taxi would be $30, the bus $2. Rickety is the best way to describe the half-hour journey out of the city along the coastline and eventually into the surrounding hills. My destination was Vallarta Botanical Gardens.
As luck would have it on the bus was the executive director of the gardens Neil Gerlowski. Normally he would take his motorcycle but it was in the repair shop. We got chatting and the subject turned to birds. He talked about needing volunteers for the local Christmas bird count in December. Contact me if you want to take part. Soon we arrived and after pointing out some of his favourite plants he left me for a Palm Sunday event which was to take place on the grounds later in the morning. As he walked toward the main courtyard he pointed out a cinnamon hummingbird, I would have missed it had he not drew my attention to it. Left to my own devices I began at the butterfly garden where I stood/hid in the shade to see what birds might appear.
The squirrel cuckoo is a very shy bird. It took me an hour of stalking to get this clear shot.
The yellow-winged cacique (below) was another bird that I had seen on the coast but this time I found it feeding on fruit discarded by the restaurant. I waited until it landed on a branch with a nice clean background.
As I left the upper gardens after an hour of photography I made my way down to the boulder strewn creek. A tropical kingbird was hawking insects and there were more robins feeding on berries. The deep pools were ideal for cooling off and washing off the dust. Above me and against the cobalt blue sky a kettle of vultures and hawks were gliding on thermals. I snapped off a few shots of one bird in particular. A few days later I learnt from local birding guide Greg Homel that I had photographed a black and white hawk eagle, the first record for the location.
|Black and White Hawk Eagle|
Black-and-White Hawk-Eagle, which is a first confirmed for the region, though there are records to the north near San Blas in Nayarit. Info provided by Greg Homel.
The fruit eating saltador is about the size of a northern shrike.
"It's never too late to start birding"