5-6 August 2013
Just a couple of quick notes on a handful of lesser known but very good birding locations in coastal Jalisco!
First, the Bioto Rd, which is a signed dirt road that runs south from the road that runs between El Tuito and the coast at Tehuamixtle. The Bioto Rd runs down a lush canyon of semi-deciduous tropical forest in the foothills. The forest is very intact and we found the birding to be excellent in just the first 1-2km of the road that we birded briefly. It is definitely a place warranting a full morning or evening’s birding! You get to the Bioto road from El Tuito which is along Hwy 200 south of Puerto Vallarta. When you turn off the 200 into El Tuito, you will want to find the Zocalo and then head south from the southwest corner of the Zocalo, which is the road to the coast at Tehuamixtle. The GPS coordinates for the Bioto Rd are 20.30376, -105.37764.
If you continue west from the Bioto Rd you will come to a T intersection just before the coast, right will take you south along the coast, left will take you to the tiny town of Tehuamixtle. If you go right, the coast and the road runs south for a couple hours worth of washboarded dirt road along incredibly scenic, very sparsely populated coast with largely intact semi-deciduous tropical scrub habitat before rejoining Hwy 200. When you first get to the coast you are in the town of Ipala. Just in Ipala there is a lagoon that can be worth checking, there are several vantage points that are easy to discover by turning off the main road towards the lagoon anywhere in town. Just south of Ipala, you will see a shallow lagoon just off to the right of the road which doesn’t have a name that we know of but we’ll call it Estero Ipala 🙂 A tiny track turns right off the road towards it. GPS coordinates are 20.20618, -105.54317. This small estero was teeming with shorebirds for us including migrant Baird’s and Stilt Sandpipers, Lesser Yellowlegs, Long-billed Dowitchers and the biggest surprise – breeding Snowy Plovers! We found two adult and 3 hatchling Snowy Plovers out on the mudflat. We’re not certain how extensively Snowy Plover breeding is documented this far south but they’re clearly breeding in this out of the way location!
Our third great location we stumbled upon is Laguna El Tule, which is located between Melaque and Barra de Navidad along the coast of Jalisco. It is accessed from Melaque. Navigating Melaque is straight-forward, enter town and head southwest paralleling the beach until you run into the estuary. There are two good access points. One is from an RV park / hotel / restaurant called Laguna El Tule which has an extensive bit of the RV park along the estuary that you can walk and bird. The other is via a sidewalk that runs for several blocks just inland from the Laguna El Tule RV Park. The sidewalk has slightly more varied habitat and there’s a point along it where crocodiles hang out offering close viewing, but the birding is perhaps easier due to better visibility into the estuary and more open water from the RV park. We stayed at the RV park so we birded both. We found the expected marsh species, had amazing views of both gigantic and hatchling crocodiles, and tried our luck with rails. We found Ruddy Crake in a few spots vocalizing and called one in for killer looks. We also tried Spotted Rail and King Rail for chuckles but had no success with either.