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 Malteraña
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, November 5, 2017

Birding Newsletter



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

Interesting sightings last month:

-  Local birder Helen Sanchez sent us a photo of a Northern Cardinal which she took recently at Lake Cajititlan. This species has not been seen here before - we are wondering whether it might have been a cage-escape.
-  John Keeling saw a Painted Redstart in the Tempisque arroyo. We expect to see this species on migration at higher altitude above Las Trojes. It is unexpected to see it so close to lake level.
-  At the Pumping Station we saw Eastern Phoebe and Say's Phoebe. Both are unusual visitors.

Another New Species for the Lake Chapala List

John was birding this month in the oak woods above the lakeside village of San Pedro Itzican, when a Louisiana Waterthrush popped out of the bushes looking for insects under leaves in a large water puddle on the trail. It was apparently on migration from the US to central America. We have not previously seen this species in the Lake Chapala region.


Mark your calendar for the Christmas Bird Count:

The Ajijic Christmas Bird Count will be held on Friday December 15, and the Count at the east end of the lake (50 miles away) will be on Monday December 18. Everyone is invited to take part. Registration details will appear in our December 2nd Newsletter.
Louisiana Waterthrush
Louisiana Waterthrush photo by Mexican birder Raul Padilla.

Species details:

- The Louisiana Waterthrush looks like a small thrush, but is actually part of the warbler family. It breeds in the Eastern US, and winters from September to March in Central America from Mexico to Colombia as well as in the West Indies. If we see it here it is likely to be on migration.
- It is known for its tail-wagging, hopping around creeks or puddles, lifting up leaves and eating anything that moves underneath.
- Its preferred breeding habitat is close to running water, but in winter is found on wet trails, parks and gardens not far from streams.
- It eats primarily small water-based animals such as larvae of dragon flies and mayflies, small crustaciens, tiny fish as well as snails, seeds, beetles and ants.
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 November 10 we will meet at 8.15 am at the entrance to La Cristianía 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 Las Delicias 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.

On Friday November 17, we will meet at 8.00 am to carpool at Donas, leaving immediately for the Rosa Amarilla Loop, on the plateau above the south side of the lake (60 minutes drive). Expect to see higher altitude and pasture birds such as Eastern Meadowlark, Redwing Blackbird and if we are lucky a Roadrunner. Bring refreshments for the morning and sandwiches for the 12.30 lunch stop. We will be back about 3.00 pm. If you plan on going, please email John at chapalabirders@yahoo.com ahead of time saying whether you can bring a vehicle, to help in carpool planning.


On Monday November 27 we will meet at 8.00 am to carpool at Donas Donuts, leaving immediately for Lake Cajititlan (30 minutes drive). We will see a variety of marsh and lake birds. At about 10.15 we will go Las Delicias restaurant in Chapala for breakfast and complete the bird list. If you plan on going, email John: Chapalabirders@yahoo.com ahead of time indicating whether or not you will have a car.
Should you be Putting your Sightings on eBird?
If you like to observe and identify birds, and occasionaly make lists, then you should consider recording your lists on eBird. It is a world-wide database of bird sightings that keeps track of your lists and allows you to see your life list, your state list, etc. It also allows you to see what other people have seen. For instance, you can ask for a map of all reports of Crested Caracara in your area in the last month.

To sign up, you supply your name and a password at ebird.org, and start entering data, giving the location and times of your sightings. eBird has a mobile app for recording in the field, and a large help section on the website with "Frequently Asked Questions".

The database is particularly valuable for scientists to study trends such as the spreading or decline of species due to droughts, climate change, and other factors, which is important for guiding environmental policies.
Bird Walk & Trip Reports
On October 13 we had 17 people out for the hike up the Allen Lloyd Trail. We observed Gray Hawk, American Kestrel, Common Raven, Stripe-headed Sparrow, Western Tanager and Black and White Warbler, out of total of 28 species.

On October 18 seven people made it out for the hike up the Las Trojes 'Horizontal Oak Forest Trail'. Again we sighted 28 species including Red-tailed and Sharp-shinned Hawks, Blue Grosbeak, Mountain Trogon (heard), Cassin's Vireo, and at the highest point we saw Painted Redstart, Red-faced Warbler and Buff-collared Nightjar. This last bird was disturbed from it's sleep on the ground, flew up in a clumsy manner, and settled horizontally on a tree branch.

On October 27  eleven keen birders travelled to the Sierra de Tapalpa where we identified 38 species including White-eared and Rufous Hummingbirds, Gray-silky flycatcher, Eastern Bluebird, Hepatic Tanager, Olive Warbler, White-tailed Hawk and Acorn Woodpecker.
Monthly Sightings List
Here are the 120 species sighted around Lake Chapala in September:

Ani, groove-billed
Becard, rose-throated (Ps)
Blackbird, yellow-headed
Caracara, crested
Coot American
Cormorant, neotropic
Cowbird bronzed
Cowbird, brown-headed
Cuckoo, squirrel (At)
Dove, common ground (Tr)
Dove, Eurasian collared
Dove, Inca
Dove, white-tipped
Dove, white-winged
Duck, Mexican
Egret, cattle
Egret, great
Egret, snowy
Elaenia, greenish (At, Sn)
Euphonia, elegant
Finch, house
Flycatcher, buff-breasted(Tr)
Flycatcher, cordilleran
Flycatcher, dusky-capped
Flycatcher, gray silky (Av)
Flycatcher, social
Flycatcher, vermilion
Gallinule, common
Gnatcatcher, blue-gray
Goldfinch, lesser
Grackle, great-tailed
Grebe, pied-billed
Grosbeak, black-headed (Tr)
Grosbeak, blue
Gull, laughing
Gull, ring-billed
Hawk, Cooper's
Hawk, gray (Sa)
Hawk, red-tailed
Hawk, sharp-shinned
Heron, black-crowned night
Heron, great blue
Heron, green
Heron, tri-colored (Ch)
Hummingbird, berylline
Hummingbird, broad-billed
Hummingbird, Rivoli's (magnificent) (Tr)
Hummingbird, ruby-throated (Tr)
Hummingbird, rufous
Hummingbird, violet-crowned
Ibis, white-faced
Jacana, northern
Kestrel, American
Killdeer
Kingbird, Cassin's
Kingbird, thick-billed
Kingbird, tropical
Kingbird, western (Sa,Ac)
Kiskadee, great
Kite, white-tailed
Mockingbird, blue
Mockingbird, northern
Nightjar, buff-collared
Oriole, hooded
Oriole, orchard (Ca)
Oriole, streak-backed
Osprey
Owl, great-horned (Av)
Parakeet, monk
Pelican, American white
Pewee, greater (Tr)
Pewee, western wood
Phoebe, eastern (Ps)
Phoebe, Say's (Ps)
Pigeon, rock
Raven, common
Redstart, American (Pz)
Redstart, painted (At)
Robin, rufous-backed
Sandpiper, spotted
Shrike, loggerhead
Solitaire, brown-backed (Tr)
Sora
Sparrow, house
Sparrow, lark
Sparrow, Lincoln's
Sparrow, stripe-headed
Swallow, barn
Swallow, cliff
Swallow, northern rough-winged
Tanager, hepatic (Tr)
Tanager, western
Teal, blue-winged
Tern, Caspian
Tern, Forster's
Thrasher, curve-billed
Thrush, orange-billed nightingale
Towhee, canyon
Trogon, mountain (Tr)
Tyrannulet, northern beardless (Sa)
Vireo, Bell's (Tr)
Vireo, Cassin's
Vireo, golden (At)
Vulture, black
Vulture, turkey
Warbler, black and white
Warbler, back-throated gray
Warbler, hermit (tr)
Warbler, Nashville
Warbler, red-faced (Tr)
Warbler, rufous-capped
Warbler, Townsend's
Warbler, yellow-rumped
Waterthrush, Louisiana (Pz)
Woodpecker, golden-fronted
Woodpecker, ladder-backed
Wren, Bewick's
Wren, canyon
Wren, house (Tr)
Wren, spotted

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 Malteraña
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