Sunday, May 4, 2014

YOLO in Yelapa (#295-299)

Yelapa...was like a dream. One of the first places where I felt like we were someplace different, and finally got away from everything. The only access to Yelapa is by a 45-minute water taxi from Puerto Vallarta. Yelapa just got electricity 10 years ago, and there are no roads (since there are no cars), just little paths zigzagging all through the village. I'd been wanting to go there since about five years ago when I stumbled on the website for one of the casas (private rental--there aren't really any typical hotels there). It took me forever to refind the place on the Internet, but I did and we spent three glorious days in Yelapa.

It's such a neat little spot and I'm sure the ex-pats there would kill me for spreading their little secret. We met some great people (a group of older folk who showed up at Tacos y Mas and there were no tables left...since we had seats left we asked if they wanted to join us at our table and they did. They told us about what not to miss, and we ended up seeing them all's hard not to in that little village!)

There is a combination of indigenous people and ex-pats, and it's just kind of slow and lazy and great. There's not much going on, so no need to plan, but there is certainly an odd rhythm to this little village. As soon as the sun rises (which was amazing from our suite which was overlooking the ocean, and no windows or walls--basically a massive covered balcony---so it was just like us, the end of our bed and then OCEAN), you could see all the fishing boats heading out at the crack of dawn, and coming back into the pier a few hours later with the bonitas they'd caught. Sometime after the tourist boat from Puerto Vallarta gets in, but most of the tourists just come for the day and stick to the strip of sand across the river, so it gets busy (but not really) until the last water taxi leaves around 4 or 5 and then it quiets down again. Then if you want, there are a few restaurants (basically these patio affairs with plastic chairs in a yard), but you have to know which day of the week it is because there are usually only one or two open per day, and at certain times. And at night, there might be live music, or not, but everybody knows where to go on which night of the week.

On our first full day in Yelapa, we went for what was supposed to be a short walk around the village The thing I have discovered real time and bird time is like real time and football time. As a child I'd ask my dad how much longer, and he'd say 2 minutes. And then 2 minutes later it would still be a minute left. How did that make sense? Well, what's supposed to be a short walk quickly becomes a four-hour adventure when you have a camera and binoculars in your hands.

On our first walk into the village, we spotted a really exciting vultures on the ground, so close to us. It didn't take long for us to realize that there are black vultures everywhere in Yelapa.

 #295: Black Vulture; Mexico, February 2014
Black vultures and pelicans in the background...not shy around here
On the way into the village, this poster was on a tree, asking people not to poach the parrots.
And it was nice that just across from that poster, we saw a parakeet, wild of course. This picture is of a parakeet we saw later. You always heard them before you saw them, and they blend in so well, you could stare at the tree five minutes before you found them (and sometimes you still couldn't!)

#296: Orange-fronted parakeet; Yelapa, Mexico; February 2014

Their bulgy yellow eyes often made them look funny.

This really handy posted was posted in town, and was how I managed to figure out the parakeets we saw earlier in Sayulita. The mini guide I'd brought didn't have all these birds so I took a picture!


And how apt that we were staying at Casa Pericos? (House of Parrots)

There is a river that runs through Yelapa, splitting the beach from the village. The directions in Yelapa are not typical and quite interesting..."it's upriver," "it's down river," "past the tortilla place," "on the way to the telephone tower," "it's by the point," "near the second water taxi dropoff."
Map by "Map Jeff" who we met on the water taxi.

You can cross the river at the bridge by wading through it, or you can cross farther up at the bridge. Following the river is an excellent choice, and the basin behind the sand bar has excellent birding opportunities!
Juvenile little blue. Easy to confuse with the egrets and other herons!
Little boy blue
Little blue - big awesome
Following the river, you get some water-loving birds in the river, but other birds on the sides of the trail too. Golden-cheeked woodpeckers were really common in this part of Mexico and we often saw them in pairs.

I don't think I could post all these pictures from Mexico and not include a great-tailed grackle...they are as common there as the common grackle is at home!
The caciques were ubiquitous as well.

The caciques were most amusing when they tossed up their lids.They are incredibly loud birds.

#297: West Mexican Chachalacha; Yelapa, Mexico; February 2014
I didn't realize it at the time, but we saw a different type of chachalacha in Yelapa! Apparently I cannot read Mexican range maps...we were farther south than I realized!

It's amazing that even when you don't know the bird calls of birds in a place you're not familiar with that you can still recognize a sound you haven't heard yet.

Looking through the mini guide that I had on the plane, Matt and I loved picking out random birds we never heard of, and the ones with the weirdest names ("Yellow-throated euphonia!" "Montezuma's Oropendola!" Black-headed saltator!" Pauraque!" "Squirrel Cuckoo!" "Blue-crowned Motmot!"). It made it all the more wonderful when we spotted some of these birds, as if the oddness of their names made us incredulous of their real-life existence.

#298: Squirrel Cuckoo; Yelapa, Mexico; February 2014
#299: Elegant Trogon; Yelapa, Mexico; February 2014
The elegant trogon was one of the most majestic birds that we spotted in Mexico. It was on my list of the ones I really wanted to see. I saw them only on a couple occasions, and they were always pretty quiet, except for our last day in Yelapa when I had a chance to see one feeding. Seriously fantastic. Sometimes in awe of the beauty of some of nature's little beings.

Well, I don't mean to be a tease and it makes no sense to stop here but I have actually reached the limit for tags for this post. You may have noticed I stopped at #299.....!


dwaynejava said...

Jenna, amazing birding.

Ummm ... Don't you live in Ottawa? LOL

Love the Cuckoo and the Woodpecker. Amazing photos of Mexican avifauna!

Art G said...

Nice diversity of birds. Aside from the poster, did you notice any other evidence among the villagers or from Gooberment of conservation efforts?

deepdowndawn said...

D, I've been so fortunate lately! And don't think I don't know. I'm loving the Ottawa birds too but it's hard not to get excited about all the wonderful exotic things I get to see!
A, in terms of conservation efforts, no, I didn't see much, at least not where I was. They have a very different regard for animals down there than we do...I feel like a lot of conservation efforts come from outside pressures.