Friday 8 April 2016

Jardin Botanico Vallarta

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.
Squirrel cuckoo.
The squirrel cuckoo is a very shy bird. It took me an hour of stalking to get this clear shot.
White-fronted Robin.
Thrushes have always fascinated me so I was happy to get this shot of the shy white-fronted robin.
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.
Yellow-winged Cacique
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.
San Blas Jay.
Common bird but very secretive. 
Grayish Saltador
The fruit eating saltador is about the size of a northern shrike. 

Lineated Woodpecker
After completing several trails it was time to link up again with Neil who had put me in contact with Jorge who knew the location of where I would hopefully spot some Military Macaws. If that proved to the correct then I couldn't think of a better to end the day.

"It's never too late to start birding"

John Gordon
BC Canada


  1. The cacique and cuckoo are incredible

    Thanks for sharing your amazing trip

  2. Thanks Mel,
    Apart from the UK it was my first birding trip outside Canada so as you can imagine I was in 'bird heaven'

  3. I'm really enjoying your posts from Mexico! Great work! Your Squirrel Cuckoo is incredible, I've seen multiple and never seen one out in the open like that. Great work!

  4. Thanks Liron,
    Ninety species and I am just wondering how many more I would have seen on an organized bird tour!