Monday 6 February 2017

Birding San Blas (Afternoon)

Isla del Ray/Del Ray Island San Blas
Touted as a "Little Bit of Old Mexico" San Blas is a sleepy little town with endless beaches, waterways and most important of all bird rich mangrove swamps. 
The town of San Blas was founded by the Spanish in 1768. The fort which sits overlooking the city was used to store gold and silver which was then transported to Europe and the Orient. Ships set off here to map the Pacific North-West. San Diego was founded and named by expeditions out of San Blas.
San Blas town centre Christmas tree.
Taken with iphone 5
I have to thank my birding buddy Ed Jordan from Quadra Island who when I casually mentioned I planned to visit San Blas quickly stepped forward and made all the arrangements. Thanks Ed. Even though he had just taken part in the recent January 2 San Blas Christmas bird count he didn't need much encouragement to make another visit, any excuse to go birding I suppose! 

The square and church downtown San Blas.
 Taken with iPhone 5 

We arrived early afternoon after taking the 7.30 a.m. bus from Rincon de Guayabitos. After booking into our hotel we were soon headed out for a short walk to nearby Del Ray Island. An elderly fisherman ferried us out in his 14 footer. He would pick us up later. 

A short boat ride took across the river to the island.

We already had a dozen species by the time we landed. Walking through the small forest more species kept coming. Warblers included northern water thrush, tropical parula, black-throated gray, MacGillvrays and Nashville. 
Tropical parula.
The friendliest and most "phissable" of birds.

Twenty species in the first twenty minutes and we hadn't even reached the other side where a beach would provide opportunities for sandpipers, gulls and herons etc. 

Northern Waterthrush

Ed suddenly stopped in his tracks and pointed to my right. Deep in a forest glade a shaft of sunlight illuminated a ferruginous pygmy-owl.

Ferruginous pygmy-owl

This was to be my first Mexican owl but not my last.

Finally we reached the beach where a good look through our bins revealed a great selection of shorebirds including black skimmers, royal terns, laughing gulls and more.
Here we counted 52 black skimmers and a hundred plus royal terns.
Black skimmers.
American oystercatcher
Long-billed curlew

After two hours baking in the sun our walk was over and time to prepare for the evenings birding. I whistled across the river to rouse our boatman, finally he stirred from his afternoon slumber and made his way over to pick us up. While waiting we picked up a few more birds for an afternoon tally of fifty-three species in two hours, not a bad way to start our three day trip. In a few hours we head off to the La Tovara Forest mangrove swamps and more potential excitement.

Isla del Rey, Nayarit, MX
Jan 23, 2017 11:15 AM - 1:15 PM
Protocol: Traveling
4.0 kilometer(s)
52 species (+1 other taxa)

Rufous-bellied Chachalaca  6
Magnificent Frigatebird  27
Blue-footed Booby  7
Neotropic Cormorant  5
Brown Pelican  14
Great Blue Heron  4
Great Egret  1
Snowy Egret  3
Reddish Egret  1
Black Vulture  18
Turkey Vulture  15
American Avocet  1
American Oystercatcher  8
Black-bellied Plover  2
Whimbrel  2
Long-billed Curlew  1
Ruddy Turnstone  4
Spotted Sandpiper  3
Willet  9
Laughing Gull  75
Heermann's Gull  26
Ring-billed Gull  1
Caspian Tern  1
Royal Tern  100
Black Skimmer  52
Inca Dove  5
Common Ground-Dove  1
White-tipped Dove  2
Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl  1
Elegant Trogon  1
Belted Kingfisher  1
Golden-cheeked Woodpecker  2
Crested Caracara  1
Pacific-slope Flycatcher  1
Dusky-capped Flycatcher  2
Great Kiskadee  3
Social Flycatcher  3
Tropical Kingbird  4
Northern Rough-winged Swallow  14
Mangrove Swallow  3
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  4
Rufous-backed Robin  1
Northern Mockingbird  1
Louisiana/Northern Waterthrush  4
Nashville Warbler  2
MacGillivray's Warbler  4
American Redstart  1
Tropical Parula  4
Black-throated Gray Warbler  1
Wilson's Warbler  6
Grayish Saltator  3
Great-tailed Grackle  1
Streak-backed Oriole  2

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

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