Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Baja Has So Many Birds!

The birding here in Baja's Cape Region is so fun. There are just so many darn birds. This view from this morning was on the outskirts of the busy city of La Paz (note to self: do not book future tours here the six days before Carnival). The only species you might recognize (even if you click on it for the larger size) is American Oystercatcher. But there are also: Marbled Godwit, Long-billed Curlew, Whimbrel, Willet, Greater Yellowlegs, Western Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Dunlin, Semipalmated Plover, Black-bellied Plover, and a few others.

Each year is different, and that's why I like leading tours to the same places each year. I never thought I'd see an inflated Magnificent Frigatebird on a wire, like this one at the same place as the above – with a Monk Parakeet sitting next to it a little while later.

This year the habitats are all still lush and green from what was a banner rainy season last year (June-October). And as a result there are butterflies everywhere. We scarcely had any butterflies at all last year (11 species), and we've had well over twice as many species and hundreds of times more individuals. More amazing is that two of the most abundant butterflies this year, Dorantes Longtail and Texas Crescent, were completely absent last year. My favorite so far is the Silver-banded Hairstreak, one I've long wanted to see. We had one yesterday and one today, this one out on a concrete jetty past the frigatebirds, amongst clouds of Western Pygmy-Blues.

I've always wanted to see this place during the summer rainy season, and I'm actually offering a tour here on special request this coming August 18-22. Sure, it will be hotter, but it should be even more lush, there could be a lot more butterflies, and it's the season for exotic waterbirds to be feeding just offshore, and that's the main point of the trip. It's a quick three full days of birding, including most of one day on a boat trip out of Los Barriles on the 20th (where targets might include Pink-footed Shearwater, Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Black-vented Shearwater, Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel, Black Storm-Petrel, Least Storm-Petrel, and Red-footed Booby). We still expect to see the three AOU-recognized endemics (Belding's Yellowthroat, Gray Thrasher, and Xantus's Hummingbird), but we will also have a chance look for some of the others, such as the American (San Lucan) Robin, Northern (Cape) Pygmy-Owl, and Acorn (San Lucan) Woodpecker, as well as migrant shorebirds at La Paz. The group will have a maximum limit of 6, but we only need a couple more people for it to go. There will likely be some spaces on the boat for those who just want to do that as well. Just get in touch with me if you might be interested.

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