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    Let us take you just below the Tropic of Cancer to the El Cielo Biosphere where birds like Blue-crowned Motmots and butterflies like Common Morphos await your discovery. 

     

     

     

     

     

    Upcoming trips to Gomez Farias and the  El Cielo Biosphere:

    DATES: December 10th -14th, 2009 

                        January 28th - February 1st, 2010

     FEE: $650 EWBCMembers,       $700 non-members 


           January 2008 El Cielo Trip Summary 

    January 24, 2007  January 18th - 21st , a group of eleven people, including myself and  bird guide Roy Rodriguez,  visited the El Cielo Biosphere  region for bird & butterfly viewing.  The following is a short summary of this fun trip.

    DAY 1  Our group set out on a cold and rainy morning from the Edinburg World Birding Center.  After quickly obtaining our Mexican travel permits, our van headed due south from Reynosa to our first destination, El Tinieblo Restaurant, Mezcal Factory and Art Museum.  We arrived at El Tinieblo at around eleven and settled down for some coffee and a hot and very filling meal.  After another couple of hours of driving and identifying hawks flying over the road ( many Caracaras, Harris' Hawks, Black and Turkey Vultures , and very brief looks at Roadside Hawks)  we crossed the Tropic of Cancer and began our ascent into the mountains south of Ciudad Victoria.  

    As our van made its way up to the Gomez Farias area it was apparent that we were entering an area of increased biological diversity.  Trees were suddenly taller and more lush.  During our stop for some mango pies at the roadside store La Morita, the group got its first taste of real neotropic birds:  Boat-billed Flycatchers, Melodious Blackbirds, and a lone Social Flycatcher.

    Before we knew it, we arrived at our home for the next three days, the cozy Hostal Casa de Piedra in the town of Gomez Farias (elevation ~1,300 ft.).  After settling in our rooms, the group went on a short birding excursion that produced several Hooded Orioles, Crimson Collared Grosbeaks and distant White-crowned Parrots overhead.  We soon were back at our hotel and enjoyed our first of many great meals at Casa de Piedra.  Stuffed and tired, the group retreated to their rooms to get ready for a full day of birding the next day.

    DAY 2  By seven in the morning, everyone was up and loaded into two 4x4 trucks that would take us up mountain roads to the  small town of Alta Cima (elev. ~2,300 ft.).  At this point, Ricardo Jimenez, a local bird guide from Gomez Farias joined our group.  He would be our Mexican guide for our group for Day 2 and Day 3.

    The road to Alta Cima was the most productive birding area of the entire trip as we both drove and walked up the road.  Great birds were seen throughout the morning starting with Black-headed Saltators above our hotel's courtyard, then many kinds of Warblers as we ascended the mountain.  The highlight of the ascent to Alta Cima was getting excellent looks at an adult Ornate Hawk Eagle and great looks at a Mountain Trogon within 60 feet of us in a cactus plantation .  We reached Alta Cima around noon and had a couple of hours of rest while we ate and shopped at the "La Fe"  women's cooperative in Alta Cima.

    After a bit more nature exploration we began our descent mid-afternoon and were back at Casa de Piedra just in time for another great dinner.

     Day 3  Up again early as we headed to the lowlands for some riverside nature tours.  Our first stop for the day was at La Florida, a small but wonderful public park that was fantastic for birds and butterflies.

    When we arrived at La Florida, the birds were in the midst of waking up for the day.  Though quiet at first, before the group knew it, we had seen Amazon Kingfisher, Masked Tityra,  great looks at White-fronted Parrots, and a very cooperative Blue-crowned Motmot.  Our group had just enough time to snap a group photo before making our way to our next stop for the day.

      

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    By  mid-day we arrived at Bocatoma II, a seafood restaurant off of the banks of the Rio Frio.  The entire group was able to take a boat excursion on the Rio Frio and see Boat-billed Heron, Sun Grebe and not one but TWO Northern Potoos.  Bocatoma II has just recently acquired new motors for their riverboats.  The motors were so quiet, we didn't think they were turned on until the boat started moving. 

    The late afternoon was dedicated to trying to see Northern Jacana along an irrigation canal north of Cuidad Mante.  We were not dissapointed.  Although we didn't see any at first, we were treat to two adult Jacanas and FOUR juveniles along with many wetland birds.

     After a quick stop in the town of El Limon to see Tamaulipas Crow seemingly taking over the town, we headed back  for a delicious feast of  fish and "langostino" (crawfish) dinner before heading back to Gomez Farias.

    Day 4  Up early and checked out of our hotel, we departed Gomez Farias.  The day was warming up quickly and we finally saw some butterflies as we observed a large mixed flock of warblers along the Rio Sabinas.  Some of the butterflies observed were Whitened Bluewing, Gray Cracker, Mexican Bluewing, and the always beautiful Malachite.  The warbler flock was diverse and included Black and White Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler and Northern Parula.

    Some more road hawk watching and we arrive at the Pharr international bridge for a short 15 minute wait on the international bridge.  By ~7:30 we were back safely at the Edinburg World Birding Center unloading our luggage and saying farewell to our travel companions and new friends.

    Over the four day period, a total of 150 species of birds  and about 15 species of butterflies were seen and identified.  

     

    - Javier de Leon 

    Staff naturalist

    Click here for a checklist of birds or click here for a checklist of butterflies seen during the January 2008 El Cielo Trip.

    Click here for the checklist of birds from our 2008 Thanksgiving Trip and here for the butterfly checklist.

    For more information on trips & tours, please call us at (956) 381-9922!

    Photos from past El Cielo trips