Monday, January 2, 2012

Birding Lake Chapala
Lake Chapala Birders January 3, 2012


December Sightings

A Cloud of Blackbirds

Christmas Bird Count Results

Upcoming Bird Walks

Bird Walk Report

December List

Lake Chapala Birders

Observadores de Aves del Lago de Chapala

Your hosts
John and Rosemary Keeling
John & Rosemary

If you have reports of interesting bird sightings near Lake Chapala, or need information about birding around the lake, email us at:
or phone 376-766-1801


  • December Sightings

  • 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

  • Y-H 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

  • 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.

  • December List

  • 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
    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
    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
    Pelican, American white
    Phainopepla (Cs)
    Phoebe, black (Cs)
    Pigeon, rock
    Pintail, northern
    American pipit
    Plover, semi-palmated
    Pyrrhuloxia (Cl)
    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

    Location codes:

    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