Sunrise Hike

dsc_0569I am not a morning person, but with the thought of sunrise over the lagoon at Estero del Yugo in my mind, I got out of bed at 5:15 Saturday morning to make the trek north, so I’d be there and ready by sunrise at 6:00. The guard was ready for me, and I hiked right in and was able to enjoy the pink colors of sunrise over the lagoon.

We are blessed with wildlife in Mazatlán, and this Nature Interpretation Center is another gem for locals, expats and tourists, a non-profit center aimed at conservation through environmental education. It’s a photographer’s dream. Entrance to Estero del Yugo is straight across the street from the Hotel Riu on Avenida Sábalo-Cerritos. The area has a brackish estuary and a fresh water lagoon, an extensive forest, and is great for bird watching: great and snowy egrets, roseate spoonbills, great and little blue herons, black and yellow crowned night herons, bitterns, ibis, wood storks, anhingas, cormorants, crested caracaras, black necked stilts, kingfishers, swallows, ruddy ducks, blue winged teals… Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.

My friend John saw a lynx there the other day (his photo below)—the lynx is actually the mascot of Estero del Yugo—and you can sometimes see crocodiles and snakes, as well as iguanas, raccoons and the other usual local suspects. I saw tracks this morning for several other mammals. There are loads of huge termite nests throughout the area; the old, broken-up ones are so very cool!

dsc_0103b

The Estero del Yugo CIAD (Centro de Investigación en Alimentación y Desarrollo, A.C., or Scientific Research Institute on Food and Development) is a non-profit civil association, so if you go PLEASE give generously to help support their efforts. They request US$5 per person to enter without a guide. If you make a reservation, a guide will take you around, help you spot birds and plants, flora and fauna, and know what they are. For a guide the requested donation is US$7 per person. What a bargain! They also have weekly and monthly passes.

This year is their 20th anniversary! The guard is on location 24/7, but  you’ll need to get a pass at the park office, which is open 8am-4pm. You can call them at (669) 989-8700, or email emurua@ciad.mx. Please don’t remove any plant or animal life from the area, and remove any trash you bring in. There is a small gift shop, also.

Estero del Yugo.jpg

I had not been in quite a while, and I was disappointed to see that the walkway out over the closest lagoon, along with the lookout hut, has been disassembled. Eunice assures me, however, that it’s all just under reconstruction. The bird-watching hut on the estuary was padlocked shut, and the boards over the muddy areas on many of the walkways are in disarray. Even the 3-story metal lookout platform has seen better days.

The hike around Estero del Yugo is about 4km; the paths are fairly clear and well-marked. The trail takes you behind MazAgua Water Park, then winds around and back to where you started. On two sides you have busy roads: the street to Cerritos and the road past Emerald Bay out to the highway. Inside the park, however, all is peaceful. People also frequently bicycle through the reserve.

There were loads of birds but I didn’t have the greatest luck capturing them through my camera lens. I love a few of the photos I took of the scenery, and the one above of the tree. Below you’ll see a couple of bird shots, plus the twisted plant they call “the screw.” There weren’t many flowers in bloom this time of year, but the yellow one below was gorgeous.

My muse spoke to me more in non-birding ways on Saturday. As usual, I was mesmerized by the numerous reflections. In some of them, it’s hard to distinguish between what is real and what is reflection!

Textures fascinate me, also. Here are some of my favorite Estero del Yugo textures from the morning’s walk; can you identify what all of them are?

There are so many trees in the forest here, and such a variety, yet somehow on this day it was the cacti that caught my eye. Here are a few pics:

If you go to Estero del Yugo be sure to wear sturdy hiking boots or shoes, take a hat and some water. In the summer when bugs are out and about be prepared!

Amazing Bird Watching in the Heart of Mazatlán

DSC_0118Birdwatching here in the center of town is so very incredible. It never ceases to astound me how, amidst the traffic and pedestrians, and despite the bulldozers that are currently working full blast, the lagoon fills with every kind of gorgeous water fowl: ibis, cranes, herons, storks, ducks, bobos, spoonbills… It makes for a splendid sight, and wonderful sounds as well!

Estero del Camarón is arguably the heart of our city, located as it is halfway between the historic downtown and the delightful marina area, next to the Gran Plaza shopping center, just south of the Golden Zone, one block off the malecón, and one block north of city park/El Bosque de la Ciudad. The estuary, or “laguna” as most Mazatlecos call it, is representative of the brackish waters that dotted all of Mazatlán back in the day, when anyone could cast a tarraya net and bring in enough shrimp or fish to feed their family.

Today, instead of heading over to zumba, I enjoyed a peaceful morning taking pictures of some of those delightful sights in Estero del Camarón. By the looks of all the fish these birds were catching, food is plentiful and the water fowl are hungry! Click on any photo to enlarge it or to view a slideshow.

Today there were two guys fishing in the estuary; you can see them in one of the photos above. I also met Salvador, who was wading through the lagoon shirtless and barefoot, removing the litter that mindless passersby throw into this wildlife sanctuary. Thank you, Salvador! I met another man who told me he stops here every morning to sit for half an hour before work; what a wonderful way to start his day! I’ve previously done an article on the restaurant here, which is currently offering 40 peso breakfasts. I HIGHLY recommend you join them, and bring your binoculars 😉