ARRIAGA FOOTHILLS, PUERTO ARRISTA & BOCA DEL CIELO & LIST

MEXICO

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00o00´/00o00´ ha 
Protected/registered status 
Best Time for visit (05th & 06th January 2007)

 

Birding Site Guide

January 5: Ariaga foothills and the Pacific Ocean at Puerto Arista: On the way to Puerto Arista we took the old libre highway via Ariaga, the road described in Howell for rosita’s bunting. The landscape driving to the pacific coast consists mainly of fields alternating with remaining patches of thorn forest and we stopped regularly along the road to check for any bird activity, picking up Masked Tityra, Rufous-browed Peppershrikes and White-throated Magpie-Jays in the first 20 km after leaving Tuxtla. About halfway a sudden stop for a sparrow sized bird perching on a snag delivered a Lesser Roadrunner perched in the top of a thorn bush right beside the road! While the sparrow proved to be one of a pair of the smart Stripe-headed Sparrow. Luck would remain with us today, because even though it was already hot when we descended towards Ariaga we ended up finding no less than 4 male and 4 female Rosita’s Buntings along the pull-outs we stopped at, while several Orange-fronted Parakeets were seen as well. A word of warning: it takes some courage to park on the pull-outs as the road consists of one hair-pin turn after the other, making it very difficult, if not downright impossible to see any oncoming traffic and all the pull-outs are on the left side of the road! 

In the late afternoon we entered the sleepy little village of Puerto Arista on the Pacific Ocean, where we lodged for 3 nights at Jose’s (Joe’s) Camping and Cabañas, not the most luxurious, but definitely our favourite place we stayed at. 

Joe, a Canadian that settled quite some years ago in Puerto Arista is a great host and an absolutely excellent cook. Do yourself a favour when you’re in Puerto Arista and stay at José’s. The cabaña’s are basic, but clean and the whole place has a very relaxed atmosphere and the pool was more than welcome during the hot early afternoon. The price, at 150 peso for a cabaña is a steal. We shared the place with a small number of European, American and Canadian travellers, including a Canadian family we had met in Palenque, all of whom proved to be fine company. And birding isn’t half bad on the campground either! 

After checking in and dumping our gear we headed out for a walk along the ocean shore where Brown Pelican, Magnificent Frigatebird, Royal and Caspian terns were seen along the beach. We had a short break on Joe’s terrace enjoying a cold drink while a Cinnamon Hummingbird was flitting through Jose’s flowering trees. A late afternoon drive along some mangrove lined channels delivered a host of shorebirds and herons and a near adult Mangrove Black-Hawk perched in a tree in someone’s orchard. On the way back the first Lesser Nighthawks (common as muck here) and Pauraque started to forage and a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl was calling from somewhere in Jose’s back yard. 

January 6: Puerto Arista and Boca del Cielo: So about the birds on the campground… Nearly all our target birds for the area were seen here early in the morning. Having gotten up a bit before Regis I was on my way back from brushing my teeth when he came rushing over to tell me there was a Russet-crowned Motmot in the tree next to the entrance and the house. A frantic dash to collect my binoculars proved unnecessary as the bird was still perching on a snag and remained there for several minutes…. And that was only the beginning. On the way back to the cabin I heard the unmistakeable calling of a Giant Wren. A short search revealed a pair of these smart wrens foraging in José’s palm trees. Now it was my turn to go and collect Regis! In the growing daylight other species found foraging on the grounds were Yellow-winged Cacique, Altamira and Streak-backed Orioles. While checking the mangrove lined creek at the back for the Green Kingfisher we had seen there the day before, a small heron took off and then settled on a branch just above the water: Boat–billed Heron! We ended up seeing about 20 of them along the channel. Joe later told us that a small colony has been nesting in the mangroves in the back for years. This must be one of the easiest places in Mexico to see this nocturnal heron. 

Following this heady start we then headed out for the crossroads to Boca del Cielo where an object in the top of a tree drew our attention and proved to be one of 3 White-bellied Chachalacas. Along the road leading to Boca del Cielo we checked out the pastures and orchards finding more Yellow-winged Caciques, another Russet-crowned Motmot, several smart Painted Buntings and another 10 Giant Wrens (7 seen and at least 3 heard only). At the bridge crossing the creek to Boca, 2 Mangrove Black-Hawks were soaring among several turkey vultures. A surprise find was a Lesser Roadrunner in Boca del Cielo itself. Large numbers of gulls and terns were resting on the beaches here, mostly Laughing Gulls with a number of Royal and Caspian Terns thrown in as well as several Black Skimmers. By 11 it was roasting hot and activity had almost completely died down, so we returned to the campground for some cold drinks and a dip in the pool. In the late afternoon we rented Joe’s canoe for a trip down the mangrove creek where upon returning at dusk we saw several crocodiles and were accompanied by a good number of Lesser Nighthawks, hawking insects round our heads.

 
Species seen

  • American White Pelican Pelecanus erythrorhynchus
  • Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis
  • Anhinga Anhinga anhinga
  • Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens
  • Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias
  • Great Egret Egretta alba egretta
  • Reddish Egret Egretta rufescens rufescens
  • Snowy Egret Egretta thula thula
  • Green Heron Butorides virescens
  • Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Nyctanassa violaceus
  • Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax hoactli
  • Boat-billed Heron Cochlearius cochlearia zeledoni
  • Bare-throated Tiger-Heron Tigrisoma mexicanum
  • Wood Stork Mycteria americana
  • Blue-winged Teal Anas discors
  • Lesser Scaup Aythya affinis
  • Mangrove Black-Hawk Buteogallus subtilis
  • Grey Hawk Buteo plagiatus
  • Short-tailed Hawk Buteo brachyurus fuliginosus
  • Laughing Falcon Herpetotheres cachinnans cachinnans
  • White-bellied Chachalaca Ortalis leucogastra
  • American Avocet Recurvirostra americana
  • Marbled Godwit Limosa fedoa
  • Hudsonian Curlew Numenius hudsonicus
  • Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca
  • Willet Catoptrophorus semipalmatus
  • Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla
  • Laughing Gull Larus atricilla megalopterus
  • Caspian Tern Hydroprogne caspia
  • Common Tern Sterna hirundo hirundo
  • Royal Tern Sterna maxima maxima
  • Elegant Tern Sterna elegans
  • Black Skimmer Rynchops niger niger
  • Red-billed Pigeon Patagioenas flavirostris
  • Orange-fronted Parakeet Aratinga canicularis
  • Lesser Roadrunner Geococcyx velox
  • Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium brasilianum
  • Lesser Nighthawk Chordeiles acutipennis
  • Pauraque Nyctidromus albicollis
  • Cinnamon Hummingbird Amazilia rutila
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird Archilochus colubris
  • Canivet's Emerald Chlorostilbon canivetii
  • Plain-capped Starthroat Heliomaster constantii
  • Russet-crowned Motmot Momotus mexicanus
  • Green Kingfisher Chloroceryle americana
  • Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum
  • Giant Wren Campylorhynchus chiapensis
  • White-lored Gnatcatcher Polioptila albiloris
  • Scissor-tailed Flycatcher Tyrannus forficatus
  • Masked Tityra Tityra semifasciata
  • White-throated Magpie-Jay Calocitta formosa
  • Rufous-browed Peppershrike Cyclarhis gujanensis insularis
  • Tennessee Warbler Vermivora peregrina
  • Yellow Warbler Dendroica petechia
  • Yellow-breasted Chat Icteria virens
  • Rose-breasted Grosbeak Pheucticus ludovicianus
  • Painted Bunting Passerina ciris pallidior
  • Rose-bellied Bunting Passerina rositae
  • Blue Grosbeak Passerina caerulea
  • Yellow-winged Cacique Cacicus melanicterus
  • Altamira Oriole Icterus gularis
  • Streak-backed Oriole Icterus pustulatus
  • Baltimore Oriole Icterus galbula
  • Orchard Oriole Icterus spurius
  • Bronzed Cowbird Molothrus aeneus
  • Stripe-headed Sparrow Aimophila ruficauda

 

For a full Excel species trip list please contact the authors:

Regis Nossent: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Filip Beeldens: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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