Tropical Deciduous Forest of Southern Sonora
Alamos, Mexico Trip Itinerary
November 6-14, 2010
$1975 per person-$300 single supplement
DAY 1: Today we will drive to Nogales, Arizona near the Mexican border, leaving Santa Fe at 8AM. We will take a mid-day break for lunch and birding at Ted Turner’s Ladder Ranch, west of Truth or Consequences. Dinner will be at Canela in Sonoita. We will stay the night at Hacienda Corona de Guevavi, a ranch active since the 1700’s.
DAY 2: Following breakfast, we head into Mexico stopping at the 21KM checkpoint to fill out our tourist visas. From this point, we head due south through the Sonoran Desert. We will eat our lunch on the ocean at Miramar Bay near San Carlos. The estuary setting here offers an opportunity to see Magnificent Frigatebird, Blue-footed Booby, Heermann’s and Yellow-footed Gulls, as well as numerous shorebirds, herons and egrets. The afternoon drive of 3.5 hours will bring us to Alamos where dinner and lodging will be at Hotel Tesoros.
DAY 3: Our morning birding will be at nearby Alamos Arroyo. Along the creek we have a good chance of seeing Mexican specialties such as Red-billed Pigeon, Social Flycatcher, Blue Mockingbird and Plain-capped Starthroat. Returning to town, we will look in a side arroyo for the shy Black-vented Oriole. After lunch, there will be free time to experience the colonial charm of historic Alamos. Later in the afternoon, there is an optional hike up Arroyo Chalaton, in the shadow of the Cerro de Alamos. There we may find Rufous-backed Robin, Elegant Trogon, Brown-backed Solitaire and Five-striped Sparrow. Dinner will be at the elegant La Mansion and evening stay at Hotel Tesoros.
DAY 4: Today we head south to the Rio Cuchujaqui about 8 miles from town. This sub-tropical drainage features an impressive member of the Cypress family known as Sabino and is home to species such as Sinaloa Wren, Purplish-backed Jay, and the stunning Squirrel Cuckoo. Most likely, we will glimpse our first Black-throated Magpie Jay here-the icon of the tropical deciduous forest. After birding the river, we will head a bit further south to Rancho San Jose, a 13,000 acre ranch at the end of the Sierra de Alamos. After lunch, there will be time to relax and enjoy the superb views of the sierra looming over the ranch. In the late afternoon, we will venture to Arroyo Higuera where we are likely to encounter White-fronted Parrots, Streak-backed Oriole, Rufous-bellied Chachalaca and White-tipped Dove. A pair of rare Pale-billed Woodpeckers was seen here in March of 2006 as well. This stunning crow-sized woodpecker sports a massive bill and spectacular red crest. It is extremely scarce at the northern edge of its range in southern Sonora. At dusk, we will call out the resident Mottled Owls, tropical relatives of the Mexican Spotted Owl. Back at the ranch a sumptuous dinner will be cooked on the outside asadero. The calls of Western Screech Owls, and possibly Buff-collared Nightjar, will lull us to sleep.
DAY 5: After a breakfast that includes freshly-made tortillas, we head to the south end of the Sierra de Alamos to search for Rufous-capped Warbler, Ivory-billed Woodcreeper, and a possible daytime encounter with Colima Pygmy Owl. This outing will be the only moderately strenuous hiking of the trip. After lunch back at the ranch guest house, we depart to head back to Alamos. Along the way, we will stop at Arroyo Mentidero where we hope to find Happy Wren, Tufted Flycatcher, Rose-throated Becard, and the always-entertaining Green Kingfisher. Dinner at La Puerta Roja and lodging at the rustic cabins of El Pedregal on the outskirts of town.
DAY 6: Today we will do a float trip down the Rio Mayo, one of the major rivers draining the western flanks of the Sierra Madre. From our put-in at Mocuzarit Reservoir we wind through remote expanses of tropical deciduous forest and lusher riparian habitat. This is a comfortable experience as the boat is equipped with padded bench seats with backrests. We will keep a sharp eye out today for elusive gems such as Bare-throated Tiger Heron, Crane Hawk and Rufous-crowned Motmot. Numerous Common Blackhawks watch our progress from riverside snags After lunch on the river, we will visit the old church in historic San Bernardo. Returning to Alamos in late afternoon, there will be a block of free time before dinner at Rancho el Palomar. We will allow some birding time at Rancho Palomar which offers our best chance for Elegant Quail. Lodging at El Pedregal.
DAY 7: After some pre-breakfast birdng on the grounds of El Pedregal, it’s Adios to Alamos, as we return to the coastal plain. We will stop briefly at a series of ponds along the Rio Mayo in Navajoa, where we have seen Black-bellied Whistling Duck and Northern Jacana in the past, the latter at its northern most location. Then we head west to Estero Tobari and Isla Huivulai. Lunch will be on the causeway that connected the island to the mainland but was breached by a tropical storm in the fall of 2006.. The area hosts numbers of wintering shorebirds including Black Turnstone, Whimbrel, Marbled Godwit and Wilson’s Plover. Among the many herons and egrets gathered, we may see the spectacular Roseate Spoonbill. In the late afternoon, we head north through agricultural country where viewings of White-tailed Kite and Sinaloa Crow are likely. Dinner and evening stay will be at the Best Western in Cuidad Obregon.
DAY 8: We depart Cuidad Obregon early and begin our drive north. Our mid-day lunch/birding break will be in San Carlos at Estero Soledado, a World Wildlife Fund Preserve. Some new species for the trip that we may find here include Elegant Tern, Black Skimmer and American Oystercatcher. Following lunch, we will do a brief foray into the desert north of town for Rufous-winged Sparrow, wintering Gray Vireo, and Costa’s Hummingbird. Our mid afternoon 3.5 hour drive will take us to Santa Ana, about an hour south of the border. Dinner in Santa Ana and night stay at Hotel San Francisco.
DAY 9: Our last leg of the trip returns us to the Land of Enchantment. We will have the earliest wake-up time of the trip-4:30am. We want to cross the border at Nogales as close to the 6am opening time as possible. During the day, our wait would be up to an hour and a half. At this time, hopefully 15 minutes or less. We will get righteous coffee and breakfast at Sacred Grounds in Patagonia, AZ. Lunch will be in Deming or Truth or Consequences. We may include an hour birding at Bosque del Apache NWR before our return to Santa Fe around 7PM.