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From Raymond Resendes' About.com Article:
Over 2 million tourists visit Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, annually - making this resort town the second most visited destination in Mexico. Although Puerto Vallarta is best known for its beaches, it offers an extremely wide variety of other attractions. The town has a pleasant climate, great scenic beauty, world class accommodations to suit every budget, numerous quality restaurants, excellent shopping, a vibrant nightlife and many opportunities to engage in several watersports activities and sightseeing excursions. Perhaps no other destination in Mexico offers the diversity of activities that Puerto Vallarta does. Further, the town itself has the look and charm of a colonial Mexican village with its picturesque buildings and cobblestone streets. There is never a dull moment in this famous resort town.
Birding Mexico article: A Paradise For Birders
With more than 300 species of birds, Puerto Vallarta is called El Paraiso or Paradise.
The most compelling feature of the area is the huge bay, the Bahia de Banderas or Bay of Flags, cut like a semicircle out of the Pacific Coast of Mexico. The coastline of the bay is relatively featureless, except for a few small inlets at the mouths of rivers, such as at Yelapa, Boca de Tomatlan, and Mismaloya. In the mouth of the bay is a small cluster of rocky islands, the Marietas or Islas Marietas where some sea birds nest in season.
High mountains come down to the waters edge generally extending from San Blas, Nayarit to the north, and southward to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. The Bahia de Banderas, is carved out of these mountains and the cut extends inward in a northeasterly direction as a valley, the Valle de Banderas, or Valley of Flags. The high mountains surround the edge of the valley forming an area isolated from other sea level valleys to the north and south.
The valley is not large by world standards with an area of 100 to 150 square miles. It is relatively flat, especially in the delta area. Towards the sides of the valley there are low foothills, but then the mountains rise quite sharply, sometimes precipitously. On the north side, the valley is bound by the Sierra Vallejo, and on the south, by the even higher Sierra Cuale.
This list covers the floor of the valley primarily, up to 100 meters in altitude, including the foothills and some of the river gorges for a short distance, but excluding the mountains themselves. It also includes the edges of the bay from Punta de Mita on the outer northwestern point on around the bay to Yelapa on the south, as well as the bay itself.
The mountainside surrounding the bay and valley are coated with vegetation distinctly different from that of the valley, namely the tropical deciduous forest. Locally, this type of terrain is called "the jungle", but is quite different from true jungle vegetation of more southern parts of the continent.
The tropical deciduous forest ends at the bottom of the mountains although in some places it may extend along rivers briefly where they enter the valley. In the dry winter period much of the vegetation becomes leafless. The valley is as much as it represents a more-or-less unique biological area isolated for miles from other such units, isolated by mountains cloth- ed with vegetation very distinct from that of the valley. This isolation is not absolute by any means, but works for many species of birds, and retards movements of many others.
The Rio Ameca is the major river in the valley and has had a major influence on the valley floor it comes out of the mountains to the east, through a steep-walled rocky gorge, having arisen in the vicinity of Guadalajara. A constant wash of sand occurs from out of the mountain gorge of the river. This is constantly being removed as a major construction material in the area, and after each rainy season when the river is at its peak, a new supply of sand seems to have been deposited.
The terminus of the river forms an estuary of three or four miles in depth and at the mouth are some small mangrove swamps. Only one other river of conse- quence, the Rio Mascota, exists in the valley. The Rio Mascota is a tributary of the Rio Ameca. The Rio Ameca is the border, locally, between two Mexican states, Nayarit to the north and Jalisco to the south.
Family of the Month - The HERONS and EGRETS: family Ardeidae Las GARZAS y afines
The birds in this family of long-necked, long-billed waders feed largely on fish, amphibians, and aquatic invertebrates. They primarily inhabit swamps, marshes, streams, wet pastures or any other similar wetland habitats. It is a family of about sixty-one species in the world of which 22 or 23 are found in North and Central America.
Members of the heron family are a large and conspicuous component of the valley's bird population., Of the thirteen species seen so far, at least four of them nest in the area. The wet pastures and numerous temporary ponds during the rainy season are a natural situation to attract individuals of this group. During the drier parts of the year they are forced into rivers, irrigation canals, and even the tide pools at Punta de Mita. Probably many individuals leave the area as aquatic life diminishes in late winter and spring.
Four or five of the local species build nests all mixed together in the tall, graceful capomo trees found on farmland not far from the town of San Juan de Abajo. I have followed those rookeries for several years as the adults start gathering in late April, build their nests, and search for food in the adjacent irrigated areas well into summer. In 1989 the birds and I stood looking in horror as farmers inexplicably cut down many of those beautiful trees heavily festooned with egret and heron nests. Later, what appeared to be the valley's entire black vulture flock gathered to feed on the dead chicks. For a couple of weeks the vultures could be seen perched in adjacent trees, apparently waiting for more. There are other rookeries in the valley, and perhaps the birds from around San Juan will establish new sites in nearby trees, but the region has suffered a distinct loss for at least awhile.