Tepic and San Juan Reserve, Feb. 28 - Mar. 1


        From Laguna La Maria, our route turned decisively northward back toward the United States.  A long day's drive carried us around the congested outskirts of Guadalajara and across the agave-and-tequila producing region of central Jalisco state to the high-altitude city of Tepic.  The spectacular blossoms of a flowering tree welcomed us to a comfortable but otherwise unremarkable urban RV park.  From this base we were able to explore more fully a pair of exceptional birding sites that we had reconnoitered earlier from Paraiso Miramar, forty miles away.  This account covers our visits on both occasions.
Jalisco agave fields
Los Pinos Trailer Park
Welcoming blossom

        High in the mountains southwest of Tepic we revisited a protected ecological area, the San Juan Reserve, with overnight facilities at the Rancho La Noria.
Rancho La Noria
Office and snack shop
Wendy Forster
Say's Phoebe at our campground, perched, in flight, and alighting

        From Rancho La Noria, birding trails radiated up into the montane forests.
On the birding trail
Walt Borden, Coen Dexter, June Whitten, Brenda Wright
Birder Carolyn
Coen Dexter, Chris Tenney
Tufted Flycatcher
Arizona Woodpecker
Brown-backed Solitaire

       On the road down the mountain, we found a forested gulch choked with wildflowers and aswarm with hummers.  We counted at least six species, including the tiny and elusive Bumblebee Hummingbird, the second smallest bird in the Western Hemisphere.
Rufous Hummingbird
Calliope Hummingbird
Nesting Berylline Hummingbird

        The other remarkable birding site accessed from Tepic, a scenic pullout beside a busy highway north of the city, featured only a single species.  El Mirador del Aguila (Eagle Overlook) was the only reliable location for finding one of Mexico's most flamboyantly plumaged and elusive birds.  Looking down a forested mountain valley in the late afternoon, we were thrilled to see flocks of Military Macaws approaching, and to hear their cries drifting up to us as they settled in to roost directly below.  For many of us, no other birding spectacle in Mexico quite matched this one.
Mirador del Aguila
Wendy Forster, Charlie
Military Macaws

Photographs copyrighted 2004 by Carolyn Merchant