After working nearly a year on several campaigns last year I was elated, but worn out, after Election Day. And I thought, finally, I can get back to one of my favorite interests – birding. There is a certain appeal to the intellectual challenge, the excuse to be out in nature and the treasure hunt aspect that comes with birding.

So long story short, my husband and I decided to head south to Puerto Vallarta and chase a few birds. While digging around the internet I ran across a company I’ve used before in PV – Birding in Mexico. We signed up for two trips, the 2-day San Blas trip and the half-day trip to the Marietas Islands.  So, let’s head south!

San Blas
San Blas, in the state of Nayarit is located two hours north of Puerto Vallarta. Our guide and owner of the company Birding in Mexico, Alejandro Martinez, picked us up from our B&B in Puerto Vallarta and we headed north and west on our trip to San Blas. Our drive took us through tropical forests and shaded coffee plantations until we go to our first birding spot. It’s a community owned cooperative called Comisaridado Ejidal de Tecuitata. For a $50 peso donation (approximately $4.13 USD) you can enter this cooperative.

Comissariado Ejidal de Tecuitata
While birding this area we met one of the owners who told us he was harvesting some of the bamboo in the area to make curtain rods. We passed others who were working the land as well.

This area was rich with birds including black throated gray warblers, golden cheeked woodpecker, indigo bunting, tropical parula, golden vireo and orange-fronted parrot. Oh, and this gorgeous citreoline trogon to the left.

Later that day we arrived in San Blas. After a rest at our hotel we headed out to the tropical mangroves. Our small group hopped into a boat led by the famous Chencho. This tour, which went into early evening, was truly special.  Below are just some of the birds we saw:

Tri-coloured Heron and Black-crowned Night Heron
Ferruginous Pygmy Owl
Snail Kite
Green Kingfisher
While out in the lagoon we ran across these folks fishing:
The next day, Alejandro took us to a place just outside the village of Singayta (about 10 minutes from San Blas.) As he stopped the van we looked over to our left and saw this extraordinary site:
Trees like this were filled with wood storks, roseate spoonbills and herons. Further on you can hear the distinct calls of chacalacas. We ventured town a path and came across black-bellied whistling ducks, greater yellowlegs and black-necked stilts.

I can go on and on about the richness of San Blas, but now it’s time to head back south to our next adventure.

Marietas Islands
These federally protected volcanic islands just off of Punta Mita (in the northern tip of the bay that Puerto Vallarta is in) are a mere 30-minute boat ride away. Because there are no settlements allowed on these  islands, the bird populations have taken over. Here are a few of the residents:

Blue Footed Boobies
Laughing Gulls
Overall, the Puerto Vallarta area is a great way to combine a getaway trip to a beach community with some spectacular birding. I ended up seeing 85 species of birds in just five days.

Some links to places we stayed and other helpful tips

Where to Go Birding in San Blas – great suggestions for birding on your own in the San Blas Area

Casa Virgilios – This is the place we stayed in Puerto Vallarta. It received one my best reviews I’ve ever written on TripAdvisor.  A peaceful oasis, close to the beach and reasonably priced.

Hotel Garza Canela – The hotel we stayed in San Blas. Let me leave you with the view from our room:

Originally posted to BCO gal on Sun May 12, 2013 at 06:37 AM PDT.

Also republished by Birds and Birdwatching.

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