Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Newsletter



Chapala Birders Newsletter January 2, 2018
168 Species Sighted Last Month - a Record
The complete list of December sightings is shown at the end of this newsletter.

Interesting sightings last month:

-  After two pygmy owl sightings in November, we received a photo  from Liz Durham of an owl that flew into a closed window of her house at dusk. (She lives on the west side of Ajijic). She put the confused owl on a towel, photographed it, and later it flew away. We have identified it as a Mountain Pygmy owl.
-  Brian Lewis continued his trend of finding new locations of the rare White-throated Flycatcher for the Christmas Bird Count - this time at the reed beds of Cristiania Park opposite the restaurants in Chapala.
-  John Roynon observed the uncommon Least Bittern in a new location - this time at the reed beds of the malecon in San Antonio Tlayacapan.

New Species for the Lake Chapala List

After the Christmas Bird Count, John and Rosemary went birding on the Allen Lloyd Trail, where there is a 'sweet spot' about 200 meters long which includes trees with berries and creeper-covered undergrowth. Unexpectedly a very small bird popped up on top of some tall plants. It had an unusual yellow-green body color, and unique yellow 'spectacles' on the face. It was a White-eyed vireo - a first for Lake Chapala. Read the description below.
Report on the 2017  Christmas Bird Count
This year we chose to bring in new blood to the team leadership - our regular leaders have been leaders so many times, they can do it in their sleep. Our new leaders were: Lois Lewis, Rosemary Keeling, Francis Riedelberger, Rudy Neustaedter, Mary Kiely, Mary Paston and Duncan Poole. They did a great job.

We recorded 126 species and 40,879 individual birds, which included 30,000 Yellow-headed Blackbirds. Looking at the results we can see no clrear overall trends. Figures for numbers of birds were essentially 'average', lying within the range of figures from the previous eleven years. Only Eurasian Collared Doves are steadily increasing, having first arrived here in 2006. We did report a bigger species total this time primarly because one team, for the first time, went up to the ridge, 8,000 feet above sea level, and descended through the oak forest on the other side, recording nine species, such as Hermit Warbler and Acorn Woodpecker, not previously recorded here on the CBC.
White-eyed Vireo
White-eyed Vireo as seen on the Allen LLoyd Trail.

Species details:

-  The White-eyed Vireo is a very small songbird that breeds in the eastern and south eastern US, and spends the winter on the east side of Mexico, in the Yucatan, and in the Carribean. It is only rarely seen in Jalisco.
-  It is a secretive bird that hides in dense underbrush, swampy thickets and forest edges. It avoids urban areas.
-  On the summer nesting grounds, the male sings incessantly to protect its territory. Each bird is said to have a repertory of a dozen distinct songs. It is estimated that half of all nests are targets of parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbirds that lay their eggs in the Vireo nests. When this occurrs, the vireo chicks do not usually survive the competition from the bigger cowbird chick.
-  It feeds on many different small insects including ants, wasps, beetles, scale insects and small snails. In winter the insect diet is supplemented by eating small berries.
Upcoming Trips and Bird Walks
Our bird walks are open to all those interested in birds, both beginners and experienced birders. Just bring binoculars and show up. We always have knowledgeable birders on hand to identify the species. If you are being given a ride, please make a contribution to gas and tolls (perhaps 50-100 pesos for a half day outing, 100-200 for a day trip).


On Friday January 12 we will meet 8.00 am at the Allen Lloyd Trail which follows a mile-long arroyo with lots of underbrush in which birds love to hide. It remains our most interesting local bird walk. Expect to see Golden-fronted Woodpecker, stripe-headed Sparrow and Blue Mockingbird. At 10.15 we will head to Sunrise restaurant for breakfast and complete the birdlist. 
How to Get There: Drive up the Libramiento a half mile and park on the north side of the road opposite El Dorado Condominium.

On Monday January 22 we will meet at 8.00 am at Donas Donuts, leaving immediately for the Sierra de Tapalpa (90 minutes away). We will bird from 9.30 till 12.30 and have lunch in the town of Tapalpa and complete the bird list. We expect to see higher altitude birds such as Acorn Woodpecker and Slate-throated Redstart and if we are lucky Trans-volcanic Jay. Bring your own refreshments for the morning. We will be back about 5.00 pm. If you plan on going, please email John at chapalabirders@yahoo.com ahead of time saying whether you can bring a vehicle.

On Wednesday January 31 we will meet at 8.15 am at the entrance to Cristiania Park in Chapala. We should see an interesting selection of species in the tall trees and on the shore of the lake. At about 10.30 we will go to 'La Palapa de Don Juan' for breakfast and complete the bird list.
How to Get There: From Ajijic go to the traffic light at the main street of Chapala (Av. Madero), cross straight over and keep going straight for five blocks, turn left at the T intersection and park on the right.
Bird Walk & Trip Reports
On December 8 we had 15 birders out at the Jocotepec Malecon Park. We managed to see 48 species including Common Gallinule, Least Grebe, Sora, Yellow Warbler, Marsh Wren, Common Yellowthroat, and a very nice American Bittern pretending to be a reed.

On December 27 we had six vehicles at Villa Corona on Lake Atotonilco. The lake edge was teeming with birds including American Pipit, Wilson's Snipe, both Clark's and Western Grebe, as well as groups of Snow Geese, Roseate Spoonbills, Wood Storks, and large numbers of American White Pelicans. We saw over 70 species.
Monthly Sightings List
Here are the 168 species sighted around Lake Chapala in December:

Ani, groove-billed
Avocet, American (Dp)
Bittern, American
Bittern, least (Sa)
Blackbird, red-winged
Blackbird, yellow-headed
Bunting, painted (Ch)
Bunting, varied
Bushtit
Caracara, crested
Chat, yellow-breasted (Rp,Ch)
Coot, American
Cormorant, neotropic
Cowbird, bronzed
Cowbird, brown-headed
Dove, common ground
Dove, Eurasian collared
Dove, Inca
Dove, mourning (Ch)
Dove, white-tipped (At)
Dove, white-winged
Dowitcher, long-billed (Dp)
Duck, fulvous-whistling (Sa)
Duck, Mexican
Duck, ruddy
Egret, cattle
Egret, great
Egret, snowy
Elaenia, greenish (At)
Euphonia, elegant (Sa)
Falcon, peregrine
Finch, house
Flycatcher, ash-throated
Flycatcher, buff-breasted (At,Ps)
Flycatcher, cordilleran (At)
Flycatcher, dusky-capped(At)
Flycatcher, gray silky (Sa)
Flycatcher, social
Flycatcher, vermilion
Flycatcher, white-throated (Ch)
Flycatcher, willow (At)
Gadwall
Gallinule, common (Sa,Ch)
Gallinule, purple
Gnatcatcher, blue-gray
Goldfinch, lesser
Grackle, great-tailed
Grebe, least (Ch)
Grebe, pied-billed (Sa,Ch)
Grosbeak, black-headed
Grosbeak, blue
Gull, laughing (Rp,Ch)
Gull, ring-billed
Harrier, northern
Hawk, Coopers' (Ps)
Hawk, red-tailed
Heron, black-crowned night
Heron, great blue
Heron, green
Heron, little blue
Heron, tricolored
Hummingbird, beryline
Hummingbird, broad-billed
Hummingbird, rufous (At)
Hummingbird, violet-crowned
Ibis, white-faced
Jacana, northern
Kestrel, American
Killdeer
Kingbird, Cassin's
Kingbird, thick-billed
Kingbird, tropical
Kingbird, western (Sa,At)
Kingfisher, belted
Kingfisher, green (Ch,Dp)
Kinglet, ruby-crowned
Kiskadee, great
Kite, white-tailed
Merlin (Ca,At)
Mockingbird, blue
Mockingbird, northern
Oriole, black-backed
Oriole, black-vented
Oriole, Bullock's (Sc,At)
Oriole, hooded
Oriole, orchard
Oriole, streak-backed
Osprey (Sa,Ps)
Owl, barn (Ch)
Owl, great horned
Owl, mountain pygmy (Ac)
Parakeet, monk
Parrot, red-lored (Ch)
Pelican, American white
Pewee, greater (Av,At)
Phoebe, black
Phoebe, Say's (Dp)
Pigeon, rock
Pintail, northern
Rail, Aztec (Ch,Jo,Sa)
Raven, common (At)
Redstart, American
Redstart, painted (At,Ps)
Robin, rufous-backed
Sandpiper, least
Sandpiper, spotted
Seedeater, white-collared
Shoveler, northern
Shrike, loggerhead
Snipe, Wilson's (Sa,Dp)
Solitaire, brown-backed (At)
Sora
Sparrow, chipping
Sparrow, house
Sparrow, lark
Sparrow, Lincoln's (Sa,Dp)
Sparrow, rusty-crowned ground (Ps)
Sparrow, savannah (Ch,Dp)
Sparrow, stripe-headed
Stilt, black-necked
Swallow, barn
Swallow, northern rough-winged
Swallow, tree
Tanager, hepatic (At)
Tanager, summer (Av)
Tanager, western
Teal, blue-winged
Teal, cinnamon
Teal, green-winged
Tern, Caspian
Tern, Forster's
Thrasher, curve-billed
Thrush, hermit (Tr)
Thrush, orange-billed nightingale (Sa)
Towhee, canyon
Tyrannulet, northern beardless (At)
Vireo, Bell's (Rp)
Vireo, black-capped (Sa)
Vireo, Cassin's (Sa)
Vireo, golden (Sa)
Vireo, plumbeous
Vireo, warbling
Vireo, white-eyed (Sa)
Vulture, black
Vulture, turkey
Warbler, black and white
Warbler, black-throated gray
Warbler, hermit
Warbler, Lucy's (At, Sa)
Warbler, MacGillivray's (At)
Warbler, Nashville
Warbler, orange-crowned
Warbler, rufous-capped (Sa)
Warbler, Townsend's (Tr)
Warbler, Virginia's (Sa,At)
Warbler, Wilson's
Warbler, yellow
Warbler, yellow-rumped
Woodpecker, acorn (Tr0
Woodpecker, golden-fronted
Woodpecker, ladder-backed
Wren, Bewick's
Wren, canyon
Wren, house
Wren, marsh (Jo,Sa,Ca)
Wren, spotted
Yellowlegs, greater
Yellowthroat, common (Jo)

Location codes:
Ac - Ajijic: La Cristina/El Bajio
At - Trails above Ajijic
Av - Ajijic village
Ca - Lake Cajititlan
Ch - Chapala
Cu - Cuitzeo/Ocotlan
Dm - Dike near MalteraƱa
Dp - Dike near La Palma
Hv - Hidden Valley oak forest
Ja - Jamay
Jo - Jocotepec
Ld - Lerma & Duero rivers
Pe - Petatan area
Ps - Pumping Station/Santa Cruz
Pt - San Pedro Tesistan area
Pz - San Pedro Itzican area
Ra - Rosa Amarilla loop
Rc - Santa Rosa/Carnero dam
Rp - Riberas del Pilar & canyon
Sa - San Antonio/Chula Vista
Sc - San Juan Cosala
Sn - San Nicholas/Golf Club
Tz - Tizapan canyon/Rio la Pasion
Te - San Juan Tecomatlan/Mezcala
Tr - Las Trojes/oak forest
Tu - Tuxcueca/South Shore area
Xt - Ixtlahuacan/Las Campanillas
John&Rosemary
Lake Chapala Birders is an informal group of bird observers led by John and Rosemary Keeling. Don't hesitate to contact us if you are seeking information about birding in the area. We also like to hear about sightings of birds or nests at: chapalabirders@yahoo.com or 376.766.1801. Check out the website: chapalabirders.org

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Birding Newsletter



Chapala Birders Newsletter December 2, 2017
132 Species Sighted Last Month
The complete list of November sightings is shown at the end of this newsletter.

Interesting sightings last month:

-  We have had a report of Double-crested Cormorants at Lake Chapala. These have not been seen here before. We would like to receive confirmation by way of another reliable sighting. Ebird records show that this species is very common across North America, and it has been spreading southwards into Mexico, first on the coasts and now into the interior. Compared with our native Neotropic Cormorant, it is slightly larger, has a heavier body, a longer neck and a shorter tail.

-  We have had two recent pygmy owl sightings, one in Ajijic by Wendy and Niels Petersen and the other on a recent birdwalk by Gail Madison at the pumping station. When shown photos of Ferruginous Pygmy Owl and Mountain Pygmy Owl, they picked the Mountain Pygmy Owl as the closest match.

Another New Species for the Lake Chapala List

Mid-month we were travelling in the Poncitlan area with visiting birder Sally Pachulski from Maine and Texas when we spotted, on top of a bush, a large wren which we identified as a Cactus Wren. This species (described below) was reported here in the 1970s, but we have not seen one here in the last nine years. Ebird records confirm that we are at the very southern edge of its current range.
Be sure to sign up for the Christmas Bird Count
The Ajijic area Christmas Bird Count (CBC) will be held on Friday December 15.

This is one of the birding highlights of the year. We invite all of you to take part - it's a fun day of intensive birding in an assigned territory with your team. We plan several teams of about five people, each with a leader and an assigned area. Most teams start at about 8.00 am and are usually through by lunch time. There is no cost to take part in the count, but there is a charge for the evening dinner celebration at 6.00 p.m. where we share details of each team's adventures. Feel free to invite friends along if they have an interest in birds. We ask all participants to preregister so we can plan the counting teams and the dinner.

Bird Count Registration:

Registration will take place on two days, December 12 and 13 (Tuesday and Wednesday) 10.00 am to noon at the Food Court in Laguna Mall, Libramiento at the Carretera. Look for John wearing binoculars. If these times do not work for you, phone John at 766-1801, or email chapalabirders@yahoo.com. We can arrange an alternate time for you.

The second Christmas Bird Count is on Monday December 18. This is the La Cienega (marsh) CBC at the east end of the lake some 80 km (50 miles) away. This is generally attended by our keener birders but all are welcome. We set up two teams assigned to different parts of the dyke across the lake. The teams leave Ajijic about 8.00 am and meet for a sandwich lunch at about 1.00 pm on the shore of the Lerma River. You can sign up for this count at the same time as signing up for the Ajijic CBC.

The Guadalajara CBC is on Sunday December 17. Counting teams go into the Barrancas at 7.30 am and into the parks at 4.00 pm. To register phone 331.140.1926
Cactus Wren
Cactus Wren photo by Mexican birder Raul Padilla.

Species details:

-  The Cactus Wren is larger than our other "large wren" which is the Spotted Wren. It has long legs, a long curved bill, a long white supercilium over the eye and extra-dense black spots on the breast.
-  It inhabits deserts and dry scrub, being commonly found in California, Texas, Baja California and nothern Mexico. We are at the southern end of its range.
-  Pairs mate in the spring; the nest is a large, untidy ball of grass; the eggs are incubated by the female for 16 days; the nestlings are fed by both parents and leave the nest after 20 days. The male builds further nests, which could be dummy nests, or trial nests, as the pair may nest up to three times in a summer. They are said to remain together all year on a permanent territory.
-  They forage in low trees and on the ground, eating bettles, ants, wasps, grasshoppers and a variety of berries, seeds and fruits.
Upcoming Trips and Bird Walks
Our bird walks are open to all those interested in birds, both beginners and experienced birders. Just bring binoculars and show up. We always have knowledgeable birders on hand to identify the species. If you are being given a ride, please make a contribution to gas and tolls (perhaps 50-100 pesos for a half day outing, 100-200 for a day trip).

On Friday December 8, we will meet at 8.30 a.m. at the Jocotepec Malecon Park.  We expect to see a variety of water birds as well as other species in the tall trees of the park. At about 10.30 we will head to Frida's for breakfast (close to the park).
How to Get There: Coming from Ajijic, as you get close to Jocotepec, you encounter a long left curve, a series of topes and then a curve to right, with an OXXO on the left side. Turn left at the OXXO, go down to the lake and park in the parking lot.

On Wednesday December 27, we will meet at Donas Donuts at 8.00 am to carpool, leaving immediately for Villa Corona (60 minutes drive). We expect to see Black-necked Stilts and Roseate Spoonbills, among other species. Bring your own morning refreshments. We will be back in Ajijic by 1.00 pm. If you plan on going, please email John at chapalabirders@yahoo.com ahead of time saying whether you will bring a vehicle, to help in carpool planning.
Bird Walk & Trip Reports
On November 10 we had nine birders out at Cristiania Park in Chapala where it was a little breezy which seemed to keep the birds away, nevertheless we saw 42 species including Tricolored Heron, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Sora, Pied-billed Grebe, Belted Kingfisher and Monk Parakeet.

On November 17 ten of us travelled to the Rosa Amarilla loop on the south-side plateau to see 48 species including Greater Yellow-legs, Hooded Oriole, Northern Harrier, Eastern Bluebird, Northern Mockingbird, Savannah Sparrow, and more than 2,000 Ruddy Ducks.

On November 27 we had five carloads of birders at the Lake Cajititlan Marsh. We observed 50 species, among them Marsh Wren, Common Yellowthroat, Lark Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Groove-billed Ani, Cooper's Hawk, White-tailed Kite, Green Heron and some 500 Ring-billed Gulls.
Monthly Sightings List
Here are the 132 species sighted around Lake Chapala in November:

Ani groove-billed
Blackbird, yellow-headed
Bluebird, eastern (Ra)
Bunting, varied (Av)
Caracara, crested
Coot, American
Cormorant, double-crested
Cormorant, neotropic
Cowbird, bronzed
Cowbird, brown-headed
Cuckoo, squirrel
Dove, Eurasian collared
Dove, Inca
Dove, mourning
Dove, white-tipped
Dove, white-winged
Duck, Mexican
Duck, ruddy (Ra)
Egret, cattle
Egret, great
Egret, snowy
Euphonia, elegant (Av)
Falcon, peregrine (Ca)
Finch, house
Flycatcher, ash-throated (Ra,Sa)
Flycatcher, cordilleran
Flycatcher, dusky-capped
Flycatcher, gray-silky (Av, Ra)
Flycatcher, social
Flycatcher, vermillion
Gallinule, common
Gnatcatcher, blue-gray
Goldfinch, lesser
Grackle, great-tailed
Grebe, least (Pz)
Grebe, pied-billed (Ra)
Grosbeak, black-headed
Grosbeak, blue
Gull, laughing
Gull, ring-billed
Harrier, northern
Hawk, Cooper's
Hawk, red-tailed
Heron, black-crowned night
Heron, great blue
Heron, green
Heron, little blue
Heron, tri-colored
Hummingbird, berylline (Av,Sa)
Hummingbird, broad-billed
Hummingbird, rufous
Hummingbird, violet-crowned
Ibis, white-faced
Jacana, northern
Kestrel, American
Killdeer
Kingbird, Cassin's
Kingbird, thick-billed
Kingbird, tropical
Kingbird, western (Sa)
Kingfisher, belted (Ca)
Kiskadee, great
Kite, white-tailed
Mockingbird, blue
Mockingbird, northern
Nightjar, buff-collared
Oriole, black-backed
Oriole, black-vented
Oriole, Bullock's
Oriole, hooded
Oriole, steak-backed
Osprey (Ra)
Owl, great-horned (Av)
Parakeet, monk
Pelican, American white
Pelican, brown
Pewee, greater (Av)
Pigeon, rock
Pintail, northern
Raven, common
Redstart, American (Ac)
Robin, rufous-backed
Sandpiper, spotted
Seedeater, white-collared
Shoveler, northern
Shrike, loggerhead
Sparrow, house
Sparrow, lark
Sparrow, Lincoln's
Sparrow, rusty-crowned ground
Sparrow, Savannah (Ra)
Sparrow, song (Ca)
Sparrow, stripe-headed
Stilt, black-necked
Swallow, barn
Swallow, northern rough-winged
Swallow, tree
Tanager, western (Av)
Teal, blue-winged
Teal, cinnamon
Teal, green-winged (Jo)
Tern, Caspian
Thrasher, curve-billed
Thrush, orange-billed nightingale
Towhee, canyon
Tyrannulet, northern, beardless (At)
Vireo, black-capped
Vireo, Cassin's
Vireo, plumbeous (At)
Vireo, warbling
Vulture, black
Vulture, turkey
Warbler, black and white
Warbler, black-throated gray
Warbler, Lucy's (Ac)
Warbler, MacGillivray's (At)
Warbler, Nashville
Warbler, orange-crowned
Warbler, Virginia's (Sa)
Warbler, Wilson's
Warbler, yellow-rumped
Willet (Dm)
Woodpecker, golden-fronted
Woodpecker, ladder-backed
Wren, Bewick's
Wren, cactus (Pz)
Wren, canyon
Wren, house (Ac,Ra)
Wren, marsh
Wren, Spotted
Yellowlegs, greater (Ra)
Yellowthroat, common (Ca)

Location codes:
Ac - Ajijic: La Cristina/El Bajio
At - Trails above Ajijic
Av - Ajijic village
Ca - Lake Cajititlan
Ch - Chapala
Cu - Cuitzeo/Ocotlan
Dm - Dike near MalteraƱa
Dp - Dike near La Palma
Hv - Hidden Valley oak forest
Ja - Jamay
Jo - Jocotepec
Ld - Lerma & Duero rivers
Pe - Petatan area
Ps - Pumping Station/Santa Cruz
Pt - San Pedro Tesistan area
Pz - San Pedro Itzican area
Ra - Rosa Amarilla loop
Rc - Santa Rosa/Carnero dam
Rp - Riberas del Pilar & canyon
Sa - San Antonio/Chula Vista
Sc - San Juan Cosala
Sn - San Nicholas/Golf Club
Tz - Tizapan canyon/Rio la Pasion
Te - San Juan Tecomatlan/Mezcala
Tr - Las Trojes/oak forest
Tu - Tuxcueca/South Shore area
Xt - Ixtlahuacan/Las Campanillas
John&Rosemary
Lake Chapala Birders is an informal group of bird observers led by John and Rosemary Keeling. Don't hesitate to contact us if you are seeking information about birding in the area. We also like to hear about sightings of birds or nests at: chapalabirders@yahoo.com or 376.766.1801. Check out the website: chapalabirders.org