In a post-Rufous-necked Wood-Rail bliss, we plunged deep into the dark and quiet mangrove forest. It wasn't particularly birdy, but it was a bizarre and beautiful and peaceful ride. Tranquilo. Green Kingfishers were far more cooperative than I'm used to, which was a nice surprise. But with Chencho at the helm, it should not have been. No good birds should be a surprise if you are in a boat with Chencho.
There are hella crocodiles living in the marshes around San Blas. This little one had climbed up onto a nice perch to sun itself.
This larger one was substantially more impressive.
Crocodiles seem considerably more imposing than alligators...maybe because they kill way more people?
This behemoth was Croc of the Trip...this photo doesn't really capture its size, but trust me this is not a creature you would want to wrong.
Another creature you would not want to wrong is the Mangrove Yellow Warbler, but for different reasons of course. Will this mini-crippler ever be split?
After the mangrove maze opened up a bit, we lurked up onto a little roost of sleepy herons. We got nice and cozy with this Yellow-crowned Night-Heron.
Some more interesting birds accompanied the night-herons...Boat-billed Herons! Though not improbably rare (they are just probable), they are absolutely an improbable bird.
What fucking cool birds. I'd only seen them once in Costa Rica before, so it was very fulfilling to come within optimal crushing distance of them without the birds really caring.
Did you know Boat-billed Herons are coy? Well, they are. This photo proves it.
What a bizarre bill...apparently they feed not unlike other herons, with the added method of scooping. Makes sense.
I wonder if one will ever be found in Texas...they are found in Tamaulipas, after all, and there are mangroves in south Texas. But who cares? Go to San Blas and let Chencho show them to you.
I didn't even know I took photos of this bird, an adult Bare-throated Tiger-Heron. I must have blacked out for a little bit, because there was another interesting bird sitting directly above it...
Northern Potoo! Northern fucking potoo! While this wasn't exactly unexpected (Chencho is famous for his potoo-spotting skills), this bird really delivered. A lot of potoo-hype had been built up over the past week, and this massive, utterly bizarre bird really delivered.
After our time with the grand, monolithic potoo, we coasted up to another Green Kingfisher.
Talk about a confiding bird...I was more than happy to put the crush on this diminutive gem.
Eventually we emerged from the mangroves and the river and vegetation opened up a bit. Some approachable Snail Kites loafed beside the river in the waning light.
Snail kites are a relatively new addition to the avifauna of Nayarit, having only arrived in numbers in the last 15-20 years or so if I am not mistaken. I wish my state would be colonized by rogue Snail Kites.
Let us all be grateful for large, snail-eating raptors.
After the sun had set, we came upon a big mixed roost of Tropical Kingbirds and Orchard Orioles on the river...it was trippy. This kingbird, being plucked by a Merlin, will not be joining that roost again. Shortly afterward we heard one or two Spotted Rails calling...things were getting interesting.
Once it was totally dark, we turned around to begin the trip back down river. Chencho turned on his big spotlight and immediately we could see the eyeshine of a very large bird downstream from us. "Surely, this is an interesting large owl", I thought incorrectly. You will not be surprised to find out it was actually another potoo, which are massive birds. I can't emphasize that enough.
We ogled potoo after potoo....they just kept coming. They liked foraging along the river, hawking insects from exposed perches (in complete darkness) like mutant flycatchers. Their eyes...their eyes were absurd, bulging out of their heads like nothing I've ever seen before. This was truly a fantastic bird.
This one even adopted the classic "stick pose" for us. The night was complete.
A couple Limpkins on the way back were a nice pickup, for Dan had never seen one and Stilt kept insisting that we had been hearing them everywhere the past few days. As a bonus to you, beloved reader, here is an Art Limpkin that you can look at.
The boat ride was one of the standout highlights of the trip, and I can't recommend it highly enough...check out our eBird checklist. Going back downriver at night through the mangrove maze, with an escort of hundreds of bats, was mesmerizing. Shortly after getting back to town, tequila ensued. It was our last night in San Blas, and to sum up San Blas birding succinctly, it was incredible as advertised. Go! Go bird there!