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Copper Canyon Adventure

21-31 March 2003

Day 4: The Train to Cerocahui

All photographs ©2003 by Mary Beth Stowe

Had another great buffet breakfast before boarding the bus to the train station, where we poked along the tracks (getting out on the trestle made me a little nervous...). A real treat was a male Varied Bunting that popped up and gave everybody great looks! A pair of Social Flycatchers came up and chattered in the same tree. When we finally made it to the trestle the place had all sorts of stuff: mostly Lucy’s and Orange-crowned Warblers, but also a nice Nashville. A Roadrunner (probably Greater) posed on the tracks, and a distant Ferruginous Pygmy Owl responded to Barry’s tape! The oncoming train got us running back to the station, and after a mad scramble we all found our spots and enjoyed the gradual climb up to Cerocahui, enjoying several Magpie Jays and Gray and Black Hawks! Barry and I shared some history and it was overall a very relaxing trip. Once we disembarked we picked up Acorn Woodpecker, and then took a very nice graded road to our lodge, which looked rather ordinary on the outside, but on the inside it was very homey and quaint! They had a great little courtyard with hummer feeders, where a stunning Magnificent came up (reminding me once again never to leave my camera in the room)!


Looking for goodies along the tracks, which included Social Flycatcher and Varied Bunting


Scenes along the train route: the habitat begins in typical dry thorn forest...



...and heads up past the gorges and canyons of the Sierra Madre Occidental


The track crosses 37 spans and passes through 89 tunnels, including one over a mile long and another that makes a 270-degree turn inside a mountain!



Finally getting into the pines!


We finally pull in to Bahuichivo and then to our quaint lodge (Paraiso del Oso) in the mountains, while a Magnificent Hummingbird attacks the feeders... 

When it was time to leave we all hopped in the bus and headed to the little village of Cerocahui, where we enjoyed the church and a missionary school where the Tarahumara Indian kids were just cute as buttons! (And they were probably just as fascinated with us as we were with them!) The church was interesting in that they had the Stations of the Cross labeled and explained for Easter week. Their stained glass windows were also made in China, so the artist included a Chinese guy in the picture of the dying priest! (Additionally, I think he was the one who evidently started the church and was persecuted because he refused to play by the rules of the politicians of the day and was more concerned with teaching the Gospel...) At the school we also added Short-tailed Hawk to the list.


The mission at Cerocahui has a stained-glass window depicting the death of the founding priest; the Chinaman kneeling in the corner is literally a “Made In China” signature!

After that we headed over to a canyon, but first stopped at an orchard that was full of sparrows: mostly Chippies and Larks, but also a Vesper, which was new for Doug’s (the owner’s) list! An Eastern Bluebird also landed on a wire for all to see as well. We then went up a road I wouldn’t have even take Jip on much less a bus, but he made it, and we hiked down a gorgeous trail that was dead bird-wise but well worth the short little hike (and even the romp across the stream—got lots of help from the guys!). Rodrigo even made Helene and me walking sticks for the hike back up! (Ethel was smart and had one of those collapsible walking sticks, but mine wouldn’t fit in my bag, and I didn’t want to carry it on for fear they would confiscate it...)


Our bus makes it up a road suitable only for HumVees, but the scenery alone is worth it!


The habitat is very reminiscent of the high Sierras in California as Barry leads us down the canyon...


After nearly falling into the stream, Rodrigo feels I need a walking stick and tests several out while Barry bush-beats for trogons and we stand around and yap...


Mark scans the sky while Sue and Helene deride me about catching them at their best...    At right, Helene tries out the walking stick Rodrigo made for her


Barry waltzes out of the woods after a fruitless search, so we all traipse back over the stream and to the bus! 

We bounced back to the lodge, trying for White-striped Woodcreeper but getting American Robin and Canyon Wren instead. Skipped the shower and laundry (none of my socks were dry yet, and I discovered that a wood-burning stove is not the place to dry them) and went to dinner, then came back to crash. A guy I dubbed "The Sheriff" came by and stoked the stove and lit the lamps for me (there’s no electricity in the rooms, but Doug says to come back next year and it’ll be there!), which was very nice; I called him that cuz he wore a uniform and had a big "trooper’s hat", plus a revolver stuck in his pants! Someone (Walt, I think) had told me how to light the kerosene lamps, but he said to be careful not to expose too much wick or else it just smokes and you blacken the glass. Well, guess what I did...

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