narrated by Henry Detwiler
Al & Helga, Jim & Janet, and Suzanne, the girls, and I spent a
fine week in this colonial town on the edge of the tropics
species -- bird list is at the bottom of the page
thumbnail pictures for full-sized shots.
We left Nogales early and arrived in Alamos around 6:30pm, after a
long but uneventful drive on the toll road. As we
traveled south the desert became quite lush--we saw more cordon
cacti, and just before dark we started
Church Bell Tower in Alamos
seeing trees that just don't grow around Yuma.
We didn't stop for birding on the way down, but saw a variety
of raptors on the poles and cacti, and the odd duck and shorebird in flooded
areas south of Ciudad Obregon.
Alamos, Sonora was founded by the Spanish as a mining center
in 1681, and many of the colonial homes have survived to this date. With
cobblestone streets and walled villa, this town of 10,000 residents retains its
SUNDAY, 21 NOV 04
Sunday morning we drove through town to Stephanie
Meyer’s home, situated along the Aduana Arroyo, across from the
large, impressive cemetery. Before
long we had spied Hooded & Streak-backed Orioles, Violet-crowned
& Broad-billed Hummingbirds, Social Flycatchers, Rufous-backed
Robins, Elegant Quail, and the star attraction, a Blue Mockingbird.
Blue Mockingbird at
shared a wealth of natural history
& local knowledge with us, and then we headed out to the Rio
Cuchujaqui. It was a beautiful spot, especially since the recent
rains had swollen this and all the surrounding rivers.
MONDAY, 22 NOV 04
Rio Mayo - trip leader David,
Helga, Chris & Rosi
The threat of
rain loomed large, but David MacKay (www.solipaso.com)
and his assistant Ricardo
convinced us to go for it, so shortly after 6:30 we piled into his
van, and headed for the Rio Mayo.
Once the rafts were ready,
we put out on the swiftly moving river, and started seeing nice birds
Black Hawks scanned for breakfast while
Red-billed Pigeons shared the tree-tops with White-winged Doves.
We passed several flocks of Black-crowned Night Herons, and
stopped once to lure out a Happy Wren singing at the shoreline. Rufous-bellied
Chachalacas were also calling; we finally glimpsed a couple of them.
Social Flycatchers and Great
Kiskadees were abundant. Green Kingfishers were fairly
common along the river, but well concealed on the low-hanging
one would dart from perch to perch, and then we knew exactly where to
look. Perhaps the most
sought-after bird was the Bare-throated Tiger-heron, which we saw well
The old Camino Real
got excellent views of White-fronted Parrots, and may have heard a
mot-mot. Lunch was a
tasty salad, a fine pasta dish, and delicious brownies. Our final
stop of the trip was the Mayo Indian village of Santa Barbara.
Ricardo took us to see an ancient stone Spanish church and a
colonial ruin there.
noon we docked at an
inlet, and as Ricardo set up lunch, David took us upstream to look at
petroglyphs, a colonial Spanish aqueduct, and a stone bridge on the
Green Kingfisher on the Rio
TUESDAY, 23 NOV 04
Tuesday morning we spent a little more time at
Stephanie's, looking for the elusive Plain-capped Starthroat, and
then headed up through the dump (Black & Turkey Vultures,
& Caracaras) to hike a mountain trail in search of the
Russet-crowned Mot-mot. We followed that with a creek east of
town, where this stately Turkey Vulture was posing.
afternoon Suzanne and the girls went shopping and ate ice cream; the rest of us hiked up an
arroyo on the west edge of town. A calling Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl
and Elegant Trogon were nice to hear.
Turkey Vulture east of
For our evening meal Suzanne cooked up an outstanding batch of carne asado
burritos and beans for the whole clan, which we complemented with
margaritas and Jim's Australian wine.
WEDNESDAY, 24 NOV 04
Today we picked up Stephanie before
heading down to the coast. Using radios, she kept up a
running commentary on the native flora & fauna for our
|At Yecoras we pulled up to the harbor and got our
first look at our watery transportation. Al & Helga were
leery at first--she doesn't swim. Fortunately our course of
travel was mostly in 1-3' of water. Stephanie directed our
Mayo Indian boatman to stop at the point off the harbor, and we
saw our first boobies and Magnificent Frigatebirds.
Young and old Brown Pelicans were everywhere on
the water, as were Yellow-footed and Heerman's Gulls. The
exposed mudflats were alive with shorebirds and waders.
Mature Brown Pelican
rosy speck at the edge of the mangroves materialized into a pair
of Roseate Spoonbills as we closed in on them. White Ibis
were both feeding in the water and resting in the mangrove trees,
while Reddish Egrets danced around in the bay after their fishy
prey. Down one of the channels we listened for the chip of the Yellow
"Mangrove" Warbler, and before long we saw this handsome
subspecies with the reddish head and yellow body.
Down another channel Stephanie showed us several
Yellow-crowned Night Herons, feeding with the rest of their
clan--Tricolored Herons and Little Blue Herons.
Fishing panga full of Brown Pelicans
Following our boat trip Stephanie took us to an open-air seafood
restaurant in Huatabampito for a feast of butterflied, fried, and
stuffed shrimp, two kinds of fish, and ceviche.
THURSDAY, 25 NOV 04
On Thursday morning Jim & Janet stayed behind
in Alamos to explore real estate, while the rest of us hiked up a
beautiful arroyo west of town. Varied Buntings, several
Blk-thrtd Magpie-Jays, and a mixed flock of northern warblers
& flycatchers attracted to pooling
water were the primary attractions.
In the upper canyon we found this great example of
a strangler fig, with its roots wrapped around a giant
boulder. On the way back to our vehicles, Al spotted our
only tarantula for the trip.
|After lunch we all drove up the Las Lunas mircowave
tower road, and finally spotted the raucous & gaudy
Purplish-backed Jays. Nutting's Flycatchers were throughout
the area, calling loudly and often. This was
followed by a gourmet turkey & ham feast at the Casa de Aduana
Restaurant in the old mining village east of Alamos.
FRIDAY, 26 NOV 04
|On our last full day at Alamos
to the Aduana Arroyo, where we finally got to see an Elegant
Trogon. And then, as we were coming back into the little
village, we hit a jackpot of bird activity. Cassin's Kingbirds
were mercilessly mobbing Magpie-Jays. A Western Tanager was feeding in the
bushes with White-crowned & Chipping Sparrows.
being mobbed by Cassin's Kingbirds
|House Wrens, Social Flycatchers, Northern
Mockingbirds, Northern Cardinals, and various vireos &
warblers were moving about. And then Jim identified a most
excellent bird--a late Yellow Grosbeak. Al found it in his
scope just in time for us all to see the brilliant yellow
feathering and massive bill.
|That afternoon we did some additional shopping in
the artisans' market in downtown Alamos, and then headed
over to Stephanie's garden one final time.
The artisans' store in Aduana
|Our final tourist act was to tour the colorful
and crowded Alamos cemetery with its mix of above-ground tombs and underground
graves. When we returned to the Casa de Maria Felix, it was
time for the men to cook up a final feast from our turkey and
carne asado leftovers. On Saturday we spent another day of
the road; about nine hours driving north, an hour and a half at
the Nogales border crossing, and then another four and a half
hours heading home to Yuma. A long journey, but worth every