Birding from a cruise ship - Jan/Feb 2004
Sunday, 1st February, 2004
Acapulco is located on the Pacific coast of southwest Mexico
Estimated time ashore - 8 hours
We had not booked any cruise excursions today, again preferring to do our own exploring. We actually did not expect to find many birds in Acapulco, this being one of the most popular beach resorts in the world, but we had some nice surprises! The ship docked at dawn and we watched for the first movements of the local bird population amongst the trees and shrubs onshore, but all we could see were the ubiquitous Great-tailed Grackles and Rock Pigeons, but after breakfast we noted a Gray-breasted Martin perched on the ship's rigging, above the pool.
We left at 9 am for a walk around the town and after managing to run the gauntlet of all the locals offering us sightseeing trips or wanting to sell us silver jewelry, we found a small park which was alive with birds. Plaza de Zoccolo was located about 5 minutes walk along from the cruise ship terminal (turn left after you exit the gate). The first bird we located was a hummingbird guarding his food source - the red flowers in a tree. With it's all buffy breast and black-tipped red bill, it could only be a Cinnamon Hummingbird*, our first lifer of the morning. In a few minutes we had 8 more species, which included 3 more lifers: Golden-cheeked Woodpecker*, Social Flycatcher* and White-collared Seedeater*, plus Yellow Warbler, Tropical Kingbird, Mangrove Swallow, Orchard Oriole and Ruddy Ground-dove.
Across the main street, there was a square with some large trees, in front of the church. Here we saw more pigeons, kingbirds, grackles and House Sparrows. Continuing our walk along the seafront we saw another Yellow Warbler gleaning insects in a dense evergreen tree, and then a Great Kiskadee calling loudly above a market place. Over the bay looking back to our cruise ship there were Brown Pelicans, Laughing Gulls and a Royal Tern. We then cut across town and walked up through one of the barrios to find the famous cliff diving area. As we climbed the hill overlooking a small bay, an Inca Dove (see below right) flew across the road and landed on the wall in front of us. We found the El Mirador Hotel, which had lots of terraces for the best viewing of the diving shows and while waiting, we watched a Turkey Vulture soaring past us at eye level and a Magnificent Frigatebird over the bay.
To finish off our day exploring, we visited the 17th century Fort San Diego, the star fort adjacent to the cruise ship terminal. We set sail that afternoon at 5 pm. The following day was a day at sea and then our last port of call would be Cabo San Lucas, on 3rd February.
20 species seen, with 4 lifers*
This page was last updated on: March 25, 2013
Fort San Diego and Acapulco Bay from the ship
Social Flycatcher* seen at Plaza de Zoccolo
Tropical Kingbird - very common in Acapulco
Coming in to Acapulco at dawn
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An Orchard Oriole at Plaza de Zoccolo
Close-up of the Golden-cheeked Woodpecker*
A Laughing Gull with a broken lower mandible
Gray-breasted Martin on the ship's rigging in the early morning sunlight
White-collared Seedeater* in the deep shade of a palm tree
Yellow Warbler wintering in Acapulco - he sure knows how to chose a great location!
Text ~ Helen Baines
Photography ~ John & Helen Baines