Saturday 28 January 2017

Birding Arroyo Guinea

Jan 14-19 2017 Arroyo Guinea, Nayarit Mexico.

Arroyo Guinea, to use the ebird designation is a small, somewhat neglected creek that divides the communities of Rincon de Guyabitos and La Penita. Human encroachment and the growth of tourism has not been kind to the area. Crocodiles still inhabit the shallow waters and the bird life is still present, although probably not in historical numbers. That said, it is still holds some surprises as I was to find out.

l-r clockwise: Willet, whimbrel, black-necked Stilt and American coot.

 On first looks the black-necked stilts, the snowy egrets, neotropic cormorants, white ibis and three types egrets were the main finds. For those who know the area I birded from the pedestrian swing-bridge down to where the water meets the ocean.

On closer inspection and with a little patience the bobbing movements of a spotted sandpiper could be made out. 

The green kingfisher is half the size of the belted kingfisher

Male green kingfisher.

Green kingfisher female.
Orchard Oriole.

Sometimes a good bird comes along as the case with this mangrove cuckoo. A few birders I have talked to have walked past over the swing bridge on dozens of occasions and have never seen one. Some birders have even dipped at San Blas where they are commoner. That's a good bird when even the locals haven't seen it.
Mangrove cuckoo.

Reminds me of when I was in Point Pelee and I saw a black and a yellow billed cuckoo on the same day and within minutes of each other. That was a good day too.

Just when I was thinking I was having fun I ran into New Westminster birder Monica Nugent who when birding the previous day had found a varied bunting along the riverbank. There was just a small window of opportunity, early in the morning before the beach became too busy to view the bird. We met the next morning and soon after I was able to get a photo and another lifer.
Varied Bunting.

Varied Bunting.

Turkey Vulture.
The estuary is also home to black and turkey vultures, more willet than you can count, Caspian, elegant and royal terns, various gull species, whimbrel and  brown pelican who scrounge fish off the fishermen. A few greater yellowlegs can also be found hunkered down with whimbrel and the occasional long-billed curlew.

Adult tri-coloured heron. 
 The heron population includes the great-blue, tri-coloured, little blue and black-crowned night heron.  All can be seen from the swing bridge.
White Ibis
A number of white ibis seem to be able to eke out an existence despite there dubious water quality. The infrastructure of La Penita especially hasn't been able to keep up with the burgeoning growth both from industry and tourism. Much will have to be done to as both Rincon de Guyabitos and especially La Penita continue to grow.
Further down downstream where the creek meets the beach the water is shallow wading birds find plenty of pools where fish get caught on the ebbing tide.

Reddish egret and snowy egret hunt in unison.

Reddish egret makes a catch.

A reddish egret and tri-colour heron try the same trick

Egrets and the herons cover the water with their wings which acts as a natural polarizing filter allowing them a clear view of their prey. 
Where the creek runs into the ocean large numbers of seabirds are present, the most common being the magnificent frigate bird and brown pelicans. A hat is advisable as a hundred or more hover over the beach at any one time searching of scraps left by fisherman and beach vendors.
Blue-footed booby.

Brown pelican dives for fish.

Tomorrow will be another day surprises I expect as I have no plans except to wander around in the morning and see what pops out of a bush or flies overhead.

It's never too late to start birding"
John Gordon
BC Canada

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