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Copper Canyon Adventure

21-31 March 2003

Day 2: Los Mochis to El Fuerte

All photographs ©2003 by Mary Beth Stowe

Breakfast was great, too, and before long we were off to the park again! It was quite foggy and overcast as opposed to yesterday, but the first thing to greet us was a tree-full of Red-billed Pigeons! Barry was pointing out Inca Doves when a saltator called down the way, so we went to chase that, when suddenly someone spotted a gorgeous Streak-backed Oriole! He even showed off his streaky back!


The gang returns to Sinaloa Park: L-R:  John Donovan, Valerie & Charles Zecca, David Lepannen, Teresa Williams at the scope, Barry Lyon, Walt Childs (can’t tell who the others are...)


L-R again: Nancy Childs, Anne Donovan, Judy and Mark Scarff, Andy Brumbaugh (I think) and John again


Excellent example of the difference between left-brained men and right-brained women...   


“Okay, let’s go find some birds!”


L-R:  What we were looking at (Red-billed Pigeons), Grayish Saltator, and Streak-backed Orioles

Before long my first life bird (or flock, actually) came tearing in: Blue-rumped Parrotlets! They gave great looks for the most part, and shot in and out before shooting out for good. Barry then tried unsuccessfully to call in a Gray Hawk that was yelling, but we were able to get on an intermediate morph Swainson’s Hawk in with the TVs.

Continuing on, Barry found a Ruddy Ground Dove on a berm, and several Broad-billed Hummers put on a show. While we had been enjoying the oriole a Green-tailed Towhee called in a bush. We circled around and found a Kiskadee on top of a dead tree, but with him was a little Social Flycatcher!

Watching the TVs Barry (or someone) spotted a low Zone-tailed Hawk, and he explained that their mimickry of the TVs is part of their hunting strategy: their prey doesn’t suspect a flock of circling TVs to do any harm, and before they know it, the Zonetail has circled low enough to pounce! Then right after that lifer #2 called from the big trees: Purplish-backed Jays! They came in like a pair of big Scrubbies, giving a great show!

We circled around to the back fence after finally finding an adult Gray Hawk, and Barry confirmed that that was the place for White-collared Seedeater! (I thought I had seen one the day before...) He was very cooperative, giving great shots (striking little bird, a candidate for a split into Cinnamon-rumped Seedeater), along with another Violet-crowned Hummer. A Bell’s Vireo sang, and a nice Plumbeous Vireo came out to the owl tape, but a Happy Wren wasn’t nearly as cooperative (I will consider it a minor miracle when I actually see one)! But the real icing was a Black-capped Gnatcatcher that Barry had seen the day before, and with quite a bit of coaxing he finally came out for terrific pictures! He upstaged the flock of Lark Sparrows... Also had a Pyrrhuloxia that I never saw, but heard it sing, so I believe them enough to count it...


"Cinnamon-rumped" Seedeater, a candidate for a split from White-collared


L-R:  Wintering Plumbeous Vireo and perky little Black-capped Gnatcatchers

Went back to the hotel, cleaned up, then boarded the bus to El Fuerte. On the way out we picked up Cattle Egret, Caracara, Black Vultures, and lots and lots of Sinaloa Crows. Barry thought he saw a Gilded Flicker fly up on a telephone pole, so we pulled a "U"ie (quite a feat for a bus that big on a little tiny road), and sure enough, that’s what they were! So we all piled out for a better look (the locals were probably amused) when suddenly someone spotted Magpie Jays! What birds!! On the way out we were able to pull up to the tree where they landed for terrific views!


Enjoying the jays on the way to El Fuerte

After that we just continued on in to El Fuerte, where we checked into our quaint little hotel, which used to be a hacienda in the old days (quite fancy, actually). Lunch was great, and afterwards Rodrigo took us on a walking tour of the city, where we added a young Red-tailed Hawk to the list, but he gave us a little history of the area as well (but can I remember any of it?? Of course not!!!) There was also a reconstruction of the "fuerte" on the hill! Shot some cooperative Rough-winged Swallows on the way back to the hotel, and a pair of Cassin’s Kingbirds on the church steeple!


The plaza at El Fuerte with wooden tree carvings depicting the local wildlife


Rodrigo enthusiastically tells us about the city’s history while Barry keeps an eye out for more birds...


Back row: Brian Gibbons, John Donovan, David Lepannen, Teresa Williams, Ethel Williams, Barry Lyon, Helene Weiss, Sue Ormsby, Walt and Nancy Childs, Mark and Judy Scarff (the latter mostly hidden), Charles and Valerie Zecca. Front row: Anne Donovan, Barbara Anderson, Rodrigo, and Andy Brumbaugh


A Northern Rough-winged Swallow rests on a rock face while a pair of Cassin’s Kingbirds claim the cross on the town church! 

After a short break we headed down to the river, after which I said to Judy (I think) that I’d never go down there by myself! This is a very poor area and there’s trash and barking dogs all over, but the habitat was wonderful, and right away we picked up new trips birds such as Western and Thick-billed Kingbirds, and a Cooper’s Hawk that whizzed by. As we headed down the path, Helene spotted a young Bare-throated Tiger Heron sitting exposed! Everyone got striking looks, and Mark even let me try and take a shot through his scope! What a bird! Other riverside birds included a Caspian Tern patrolling the area and a Neotropic Cormorant floating down the river. A Spotted Sandpiper sat on some dead sticks smack in the middle! A Yellowthroat came tearing in to Brian’s owl whistle, and he also found a MacGillivray’s Warbler which I never saw, but plenty of Lucy’s came in instead, as well as a cooperative Wilson’s.


Barry and Brian search for goodies along the El Fuerte River


L-R:  Young Bare-throated Tiger Heron (taken through the scope), the familiar Wilson's Warbler, and a Neotropic Cormorant (not taken through the scope...)

Down on river level, we found an open field with a pair of Vermilion Flycatchers teed up on dead sticks, and a couple of Social Flycatchers, doing their mini-flicker cleahs! Barry found a knock-out Hooded Oriole in a distant tree, but we were already on our way when Brian spotted a Black-vented, which was a first for the tour!! Yay! We insisted that that called for a free round of whatever, but Barry didn’t buy it (no pun intended)! While back there we also added Verdin and Ladder-backed Woodpecker. Heading down a little side road a Black-throated Gray Warbler came overhead while Barry was trying to coax out a Green-tailed Towhee (who eventually posed nicely on a post) and a knockout Pyrrhuloxia posed in a bush with a shrike next door. On the way back Barry heard another Happy Wren, so we crashed a field and played the tape, and miracle of miracles, he actually showed himself! He was looking straight at me so I got a great view of his striped face! Unfortunately Helene couldn’t get on him, so we’d have to hope for another chance the following day. But overall it was another 70+ species day! Had a great dinner afterwards; I just had ice cream cuz I was still full from lunch (Brian was rather incredulous that that was my entree), but oh boy did that taste good!


Checking the fields and roads for feathers...  

Continue to "El Fuerte River Valley"

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