If you have reports of interesting bird sightings near Lake Chapala, or need information about birding around the lake, email us at: ChapalaBirders@yahoo.com or phone 376-766-1801
In December a total of 139 species were reported around the lake (see the full list below).
Two new species for this area were sighted during the month. The first was a true vagrant, a Reddish Egret notable for its shaggy neck feathers, seen during our bird walk at the Pumping Station. This species is normally seen at the coast, and is rarely reported inland.
The second was the Phainopepla, a bird that is shaped like a cardinal but is mainly black in the case of the male and mainly grey in the case of the female. It is a relative of the gray silky flycatcher. This bird is said to be a wanderer and is at the southern end of its normal range when it visits here. We saw one on the other side of the lake and three in the Santa Cruz area.
A Cloud of Blackbirds
Photo by Jim Thorsell taken at the dike during the Christmas Bird Count. There are 2,700 yellow-headed blackbirds in this picture (we counted them!).
Christmas Bird Count Results
The Lake Chapala Christmas Bird Count was held December 14, and the Cienega Christmas Bird Count on the dike at the other end of the lake was held December 16. A lot of our regular participants were away, so we only had a third of our regular numbers of spotters. However, the smaller teams were more agile and we counted a normal number of species, and normal quantities of individual birds.
In the Lake Chapala Count we recorded 114 species and 6,677 birds. Unusual sightings included Pyrruloxia (related to the Cardinal) and Phainopepla.
In the Cienega Count we sighted 91 species and 45,867 birds. This figure includes 42,000 yellow headed blackbirds which flew over one of the teams.
You can download the historical summary of our Christmas Bird Count results from 2006 to 2011, from our website ChapalaBirders.org
Upcoming Bird Walks
Friday, January 6, at 8.00 am we will car-pool at Donas Donuts and drive to the Rosa Amarilla Loop on the south side of the lake. It will take an hour to get there. John Keeling will lead us to the various birding stops on the loop. The territory is interesting as it is 7,000 ft above sea level, so we expect to see species normally seen around Tapalpa. Dress in layers for cold weather. Bring refreshments as there is no place to have breakfast in the vicinity. At 11.00 am participants may drive back to Ajijic or continue exploring the area.
Monday, January 23, John Roynon will lead a bird walk at Cristianía Park in Chapala, meeting at the entrance at 8.00 am. Expect to see a good variety of land and shore birds. At 10.30 we will head for Las Delicias for breakfast and complete the bird list. How to Get There: From Ajijic drive to Chapala. Go straight across the main traffic light and continue east for six blocks until you get to a T junction. Turn left and park almost immediately at the park entrance on your right.
Bird Walk Report
On December 9, we had 13 birders out at the Pumping Station. We were rewarded with 62 species including the very unusual Reddish Egret. This bird was studied at length. Initially we ruled out the idea of a reddish egret because "it doesn't come here". But it did not fit the other similar species that we know here which are great blue heron, little blue heron and tri-colored heron. Other birds seen on the walk included northern harrier, eastern meadowlark, black phoebe, Forster's tern and common yellowthroat.
Here are the 139 species observed in December around Lake Chapala:
Ani, groove-billed Avocet, American (Dm) Blackbird, red-winged Blackbird, yellow-headed Bufflehead (Cs) Bunting, indigo Bunting, lazuli Bunting, varied Bushtit Caracara, crested Chat, yellow-breasted Coot, American Cormorant, neotropic Cowbird, bronzed Cowbird, brown-headed Cuckoo, squirrel Dove, Inca Dove, white-winged Dowitcher, long-billed Duck, Mexican Duck, ruddy (Cs,Ra) Egret, cattle Egret, great Egret, reddish (Cs) Egret, snowy Euphonia, elegant Falcon, peregrine Finch, house Flycatcher, ash-throated Flycatcher, dusky-capped Flycatcher, gray silky Flycatcher, least Flycatcher, social Flycatcher, vermillion Gnatcatcher, blue-gray Goldfinch, lesser Grackle, great-tailed Grebe, eared Grebe, least Grebe, pied-billed Grosbeak, black-headed Grosbeak, blue Gull, laughing Gull, ring-billed Harrier, northern Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, gray Hawk red-tailed Heron, black-crowned night Heron, great blue Heron, green Heron, little blue Heron, tri-colored Hummingbird, berylline Hummingbird, broad-billed Hummingbird, rufous Hummingbird, violet-crowned Ibis, white-faced Jacana, northern Kestrel, American Killdeer Kingbird, Cassin's Kingbird, thick-billed Kingbird, tropical Kingfisher, belted Kingfisher, green Kiskadee, great Kite, white-tailed Meadowlark, eastern Merlin (Dm) Mockingbird, blue Mockingbird, northern Oriole, black-backed Oriole, black-vented Oriole, Bullock's Oriole, hooded Oriole, streak-backed Osprey Pelican, American white Phainopepla (Cs) Phoebe, black (Cs) Pigeon, rock Pintail, northern American pipit Plover, semi-palmated Pyrrhuloxia (Cl) Raven Redhead (Cs) Redstart, American (Dm) Robin, rufous-backed Sandpiper, least Sandpiper, spotted Scaup, lesser Seedeater, white-collared Shoveler, northern Shrike, loggerhead Snipe, Wilson's Sparrow, chipping Sparrow, clay-colored Sparrow, house Sparrow, lark Sparrow, rusty-crowned ground Sparrow, savannah Sparrow, song Sparrow, stripe-headed Stilt, black-necked Swallow, barn Swallow, northern rough-winged Swallow, tree Tanager, western Teal, blue-winged Teal, cinnamon Teal, green-winged Tern, Caspian Tern, Forster's (Cs) Thrasher, curve-billed Towhee, canyon Vireo, plumbeous Vulture, black Vulture, turkey Warbler, black and white Warbler, black-throated gray Warbler, Nashville Warbler, orange-crowned Warbler, rufous-capped Warbler, Tennessee Warbler, Virginia's Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, yellow Warbler, yellow-rumped Woodpecker, golden-fronted Woodpecker, ladder-backed Wren, Bewick's Wren, canyon Wren, house Wren, marsh Wren, spotted Yellowlegs, greater Yellow-throat, common
Ac - Ajijic: La Cristina/El Bajio At - Trails above Ajijic Av - Ajijic village Ch - Chapala Cl - Lake Cajititlan Cs - Santa Cruz/pumping station Dm - Dike near Malteraña Dp - Dike near La Palma Hv - Hidden Valley oak forest Jo - Jocotepec Ld - Lerma & Duero rivers Pe - Petatan causeway Po - Poncitlan Pt - San Pedro Tesistan Pz - San Pedro Itzican Ra - Rosa Amarilla loop Rc - Santa Rosa: Carnero dam Rp - Riberas del Pilar Sc - San Juan Cosala Sv - San Antonio/Chula Vista Te - San Juan Tecomatlan/Mezcala Tr - Las Trojes/oak forest Tu - Tuxcueca Xl - Ixtlahuacan/Las Campanillas