Oceanside resort communities such as Mazatlan, San Blas, Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo have long attracted sun-seeking tourists from North America. Increasingly, birders from Canada and the United States are discovering that excellent birding can be found within and nearby these beach resorts. Sayulita and San Sebastian, not far from Puerto Vallarta, are good examples, as are La Bajada, near San Blas and La Manzanilla, near Manzanillo.
Mazatlan is particularly blessed with many great nearby birding sites, including Estero del Yugo and the Cacaxtla Preserve. One less-visited area very close to the city is the road past Emerald Bay to Estero la Escopama.
Finding The Road to Estero la Escopama
At the far north end of Mazatlan lies the Cerritos area, reached from town on Avenida Sabalo-Cerritos. There is good birding along this avenue in the neighborhood of high-rising condominiums, and of course at the area’s excellent Estero del Yugo. Just east of Estero del Yugo is a four mile dirt road that goes north to another estuary, Estero la Escopama.
To find this road, turn east from Avenida Saballo-Cerritos toward the Maxpista toll road at the intersection just south of Estero del Yugo where the water park (MazAgua) is located. Drive east from here nine tenths of a mile to the entrance (on your left) to Emerald Bay. This is just before the railroad crossing. Set your odometer to zero at this turnoff.
Birding the Road to Estero la Escopama
The paved road lined with Queen palms soon turns to dirt and gravel, but watch the power lines for Grey hawk, American kestrel and Black vulture. Drive slowly along the dirt road, watching the thorn brush on both sides of the road for activity. Traffic on the road is light, and you can pull to one side in order to get out and check the scrub along the road. Streak-backed oriole, Blue and Varied bunting, Vermillion flycatcher and Tropical kingbird are found in this area.
At just over a mile from the beginning of the road there are several homes on the west side and Banana trees along the right side, between the road and the railroad track. Park and walk around this area, since it is a good place to find Black-vented and Hooded oriole, Purplish-backed jay, Black-throated magpie jay, White-collared seadeater, Rufous-backed robin and Cinnamon hummingbird.
Birders should also check out the area at either end of the bridge, another half mile beyond the Banana trees. Common shorebirds are found here, together with Northern rough-winged and Violet-green swallow. Beyond this point, continue to watch for roadside activity, since many other birds have been observed along this stretch, including Northern cardinal, Tropical parula, Crested caracara, Black-headed grosbeak, Northern harrier and Painted bunting.
Just under five miles from the beginning, the road ends at the estuary. Along this last stretch, there are several beach access roads to the left, where birders can walk west to the beach. In addition to expected shorebirds here and at the estuary, one also can find Wilson’s, Black-bellied and Snowy plover.
This productive five mile road on the north end of Mazatlan is an excellent place, like the Estero del Yugo, to observe fifty or more bird species in a single trip.