TR: 2 Quetzal trip-Mexico and updated info

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Subject: TR: 2 Quetzal trip-Mexico and updated info
From: "barry " <>
Date: Mon, 20 Apr 2015 10:10:01 -0700
Chatters Tweeters, Birding-aus,
April rolled in like a lion as Kate and I ventured south for a trip to
the Copper Canyon and El Triunfo.  Snow, stifling heat and everything in
between were experienced during a 2 1/2 week trip visiting our neighbors
to the south. 
The mostly all of the hoped for birds, including Resplendent Quetzal,
Cabanis or Azure-rumped Tanager, Hummingbirds and Guans, were seen at El
Triunfo. A great place to see birds and experience life. Lucky to be in
a great group of people. 2 ( Henry and Laura) from a mile or so away
from my home in Seattle. 2 others (Jay and Steve) from Southern
California. Laughed more than I have in awhile, plus we all seemed to
benefit from the skills of each other. Add a fabulous guide in Amy
McAndrews and we were guaranteed to be very successful.  
The other part of the trip was to the Copper Canyon in Chihuahua. Kate
and I did some birding and enjoyed some hiking. Very beautiful place. We
lucked into Eared Quetzals the day before our birthdays (yup, the same
birthday). Lots of other birds seen around Batopilus, Creel, Divisidero.
Did not go to the west toward El Fuerte and Los Mochis so don't know
much about the birding there.
Just some updates for those of you going to either of these areas that
might be of help.
The Sumidero in Tuxtla has closed some of the trails off to hikers.
Especially the trail at the last mirador which can hold some nice birds.
I walked around the areas with trail closed signs and found a way in,
but I have been told by a guide in the area that they were asked to
leave that same trail by a guard recently. Did see a freshly plumaged
Azure-hooded Jay up there. I did find a couple of other trails and
turnoffs along the way. They are pretty obvious, usually with little
space to park a vehicle. A couple of dirt roads would also be possible
to walk down. Hard to stop at other places along the winding road.
Supposedly can get into El Sumidero earlier than the posted opening time
with a reassurance that you will pay on the way out. I didn't try that
so don't know if that works. 
I was told by 2 locals that the Chanal Road site listed in Howell's Bird
Finding Guide is no longer safe to bird. Also a couple I met said that
they were stopped along the road into the ruins at Tonina by a group of
Zapatista's carrying rifles and had to pay a fee to continue on. 
Great information prior and during the trip was provided by Kraig
Kemper, who spends part of the year in San Cristobal, and a good friend
of his, Francesca Albini who does some guiding. 
In the Copper Canyon area, we headed down from Creel to Batopilus at the
bottom of the canyon. Batopilus is great place to hike and experience
the bottom of the canyon, but is a trip done for the sightseeing rather
than birding. The best areas to bird are closer to Creel and Divisidero.
 If you do decide to head to Batopilus, the road has been worked on
extensively. If you are lucky and the weather has been kind you can
reach Batopilus in about 3 1/2 hours. Better than the old 5 or more hour
trip. When we were there you could have very very carefully reached the
bottom of the canyon in a sedan, but I would not recommend that. A note
of caution if you are looking for a 4 wheel drive vehicle. Renting one
in the city of Chihuahua was impossible for us. Also of note, the Tree
Amigos in Creel no longer rents out vehicles. Ivan, the owner, is a
great resource though and can give you updated information about the
birds. Well worth talking to him. He does set up tours if you are
looking for that.  
We rode buses into and out of Batopilus and that worked out fine for us.
Stayed at Hotel Minas and liked it quite a bit.   
Mexico felt very safe and was as beautiful as always. Such a great
country to go to and experience the culture and the wildlife. If you
have any questions about some of the logistics of the travel feel free
to ask. 
All the best
  Barry Levine
  Seattle, Wa.

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