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Day 2 - October 13, 2008 - At Sea, Huatulco, Mexico

By JJ Apéstegui

Position:15° 47’N; 096° 16’ W
Weather: Warm and humid, beautiful clear skies and calm sailing during the morning

Just before 1015, Ignacio came over the intercom to announce our first lecture of the voyage presented by me, which was being held in The Theatre. It was entitled, “Birding 101: An Introduction to Tweetie-Birds and the Weird People That Watch Them”. I explained birding, birders and why some are called “twitchers”. I also gave a pictorial account of some of the many bird species we hope to see on this voyage. Then I followed with a demonstration on binoculars and their proper use for spotting moving birds easily, as well as a discussion on the use of the “clock” as a system for showing the position of a bird in relation to the ship, or to another reference point. It is surprising how difficult it can be to place a small sea bird into your line of sight on a pitching ship.

Having heard from Ignacio that Huatulco would have several fine beaches with several major resorts, or hotels, we expected to find an overpopulated and crowded resort/port. So, the sight of this lovely, secluded and seemingly uncluttered little bay was a nice surprise. A pier jutted out from the golden, sandy beach; a tent was being set up to give guests and officials some shade; and vans were awaiting the birders or those who had chosen to go into the interior.

The group of eleven heading into the interior to see small villages had to travel on the main highway before taking a dirt road that, after 15 minutes of jungle and small plantations, brought them to the first of three “villages”. The word “village” was not quite accurate, as there were only a few houses, but very neat and clean. The group was invited to enter the kitchen of a local matron, where they saw how tortillas were being prepared, and every member of the group tasted them. The same applied to all other stops – being it to sample nopales (edible cactus, whose leaves are used raw and barbecued), bananas, or the local fruit juices. Here was clearly a good example of how tourism could – and did - help local communities to maintain their traditional ways, and profit from it! It was an excellent tour, giving a good insight into the life of the average Mexican.

Meanwhile, the birders headed towards the nearby Botanical Gardens, situated close to the coast. With such a small group and excellent local guides we were able to see 35 species of birds, many of which were only found in Mexico. The walk through the deciduous forest was along an easy path, and just after leaving the car park area, we saw a Lesser Nighthawk perched horizontally on the branch of a Poinciana tree. Our guide Cornelio also managed to call in several tiny Ferruginous Pygmy Owls and we got great views of these through the scope. The walk arrived at a beautiful vantage point overlooking the Pacific Ocean and a small river mouth, and there were Snowy Egrets, American Avocet, Black-necked Stilts and even several Roseate Spoonbills. Heading back along the same path, we continued with more good birds, including Citreolline Trogon. Back at the parking lot, we had some fresh fruit and then headed back to the ship.

Later on in the day, we presented our first Recap – a traditional event among expedition vessels where the naturalist and lecturers recapitulate some of the events of the day during our excursions and also the wildlife sightings of our previous day at sea. Ignacio, our Expedition Leader gave us the latest news for the next two days at sea on our way to Costa Rica.

The seas where smooth as we enjoyed dinner and a very beautiful sunset from the windows of The Restaurant.

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