Four hours in Guadalajara
As any avid birder knows, trips to a new part of the world, no matter what the occasion, are always exciting. The opportunity for new birds is a lure that is very seductive. Last weekend, my wife Jeanne and I needed to make a whirlwind trip across the Sea of Cortez, to the Mexico mainland to visit Guadalajara, the third largest city in Mexico. The whole reason for the trip was to interview a doctor for some upcoming medical work that Jeanne needs. The itinerary was this: Fly in Friday afternoon, meet the doctor, and visit the hospital on Saturday, and fly back to La Paz on Sunday morning. Now in the back of my head, there just had to be a couple of hours in there somewhere for me to check out a park, preserve, something. There was little doubt in Jeanne’s mind what I thinking about, and so with her support we did a little research, and found just the place to visit.
Parque El Bosque Los Colomos is 92 hectares (227 acres) located in the Zapopan area of Guadalajara, and is a very diverse park. It is renowned for its Japanese style garden and waterway. The park features many kilometers of trails, and a wide range of flora that runs from desert cactus, to southern California Eucalyptus groves and Mexican Pines. There are large grassy open areas, swampy fern and bulrush areas, all intermixed with lovely fountains and occasional ponds.
The park is a short ten minute drive from our hotel, and given the advertised trails and flower gardens, Jeanne was willing to come along to take a look for herself. I had only seen the few pictures I was able to glean from the internet, most from Trip Advisor, so I was keeping my expectations low just in case it turned out to be a complete bust. It wasn’t!
Within two minutes of getting out of the taxi, I spotted the first bird, a Lifer, a Blue Mockingbird. I did not even have the camera ready. The photo above was taken by Jeanne, as I never did get a good photo of any of the Blue Mockingbirds I saw. Less than 50 yards from there, and barely out of the parking lot, I spotted my second bird of the day, also another Lifer, a Great Kiskadee. By the time I had used up all the good favor my extremely understanding wife could possible be expected to give up, I had 5 new lifers. I had also sighted over a dozen hummingbirds, but was not able to get a positive identification on any of them. This small part of the park that I managed to explore had the highest concentrations of Vermillion Flycatchers I have ever seen, literally dozens in the less than 20% of the park. Much of the canopy of the trees is nearly 100 feet high, so I was not able to identify any of the warblers, and finches that were flying back and forth up there.
In addition to the Blue Mockingbird, and the Great Kiskadee, I was able to add the the Nutting’s Flycatcher, and Canyon Towhee to my Life List. With out question though, my bird of the week, month, and year so far is the pair of Russet-crowned Motmots. They were quite accommodating as far as getting a photo. Given the number of people that around, most of the species were quite accustomed to crowds, and the Motmots were no exception. They hung around the edge of the thick brush, near trails, almost as if they were hoping to be spotted.
So the tally looks like this. Four hours walking about one mile, five new Life List birds, 27 total species identified, and a truly amazing park that I will be visiting again real soon.