Friday, January 3, 2014

Lake Chapala Birding News

Birding Lake Chapala
Lake Chapala Birders Jan. 2, 2014

146 Species Seen in December
White-throated Flycatcher
Christmas Bird Count Results
Upcoming Bird Walks and Trips
Bird Walk and Trip Reports
The 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


  • 146 Species Seen in December

  • The species observed around the Lake last month are listed at the end of this newsletter.

    New Species for Lake Chapala
    The big news this month is the addition of the White-throated Flycatcher to the Lake Chapala list. This bird was seen by Lois and Brian Lewis on the reeds of a marshy ditch along the dike at the far end of the lake, while they were taking part in the Christmas Bird Count. This bird is an 'empidonax' type of flycatcher that occurs on the Pacific Slope of Mexico, spending its winters in marshes.

    Other unusual sightings included a Sharp-Shinned Hawk which sat for several minutes on a tree close to John Keeling's back yard in Ajijic; also a Barn Owl seen by Diana Friedman from her house in San Antonio Tlayacapan. Other unusual sightings are reported below in the Christmas Bird Count Report.

  • White-throated Flycatcher

  • White-throated Flycatcher as seen near MaltaraƱa in December.

  • Christmas Bird Count Results

  • As usual we ran two official Christmas Bird Counts in association with the U.S. Audubon Society, the first on December 16 in the Ajijic area ("Laguna de Chapala" - MXLN), and the second on December 18 at the dike across the far end of the lake ("La Cienega de Chapala" - MXCC).

    At Ajijic we had 23 obsevers in the field reporting 13,400 birds of 114 species. At La Cienega we deployed 12 observers who sighted 9,200 birds of 85 species.

    Analyzing the results we were unable to spot trends, other than the continuing spread of the Eurasian Collared Dove which arrived in Jocotepec six years ago, and is now seen at Chapala, Santa Rosa and Jamay. This species, originally from India, started expanding its range 400 years ago, reaching Florida in the 1980s. It is now found throughout the U.S.

    Less common species included Eared Grebe at Santa Rosa, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks at San Antonio and Fulvous Whistling Ducks east of Chapala.

    If you would like a copy of the results (in pdf format), please email your request to

  • Upcoming Bird Walks and Trips

  • Our birdwalks are open to all those interested in birds, both beginners and experienced birders. Just bring binoculars and show up. We always have knowledgable birders on hand to identify the species.

    On Saturday January 11, we will meet at 8.00 am at Donas Donuts to carpool leaving immediately for Rosa Amarilla. It takes 60-90 minutes to get there because of road construction. We bird from 9.30 to 12.30. You must not expect to be back before 2.00 pm. Bring refreshments - there are no places to buy food there. If you plan to go please email John Keeling indicating the number of people and if you have a vehicle so we can more easily balance the loads.

    On Thursday January 16, we will meet at 8.00 am at Donas Donuts to carpool, leaving immediately for Lake Cajititlan, which is 30 minutes away. Expect to see a variety of shore and marsh bids. This lake is currently good because the water levels are reasonably high. At 10.15 we will go for breakfast in Ixtlahuacan de los Membrillos to prepare the bird list. If you plan to go please email John Keeling indicating the number of people and if you have a vehicle so we can more easily balance the loads.

    On Friday January 24, we will meet at 8.30 am at the Jocotepec Malecon Park. Expect to see shore birds and park birds in the tall trees, perhaps Eurasian Collared Dove and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. At 10.15 we will head to Dona Lolas in Ajijic for breakfast.
    How to Get There: From Ajijic, as you near Jocotepec you encounter a left hand curve, some serious topes, and a right hand curve with an OXXO store where you must turn left. Proceed to the lake and park in the parking lot.

  • Bird Walk and Trip Reports

  • On December 6, we had fourteen birders out on the causeway on Lake Atotonilco near Villa Corona. When we arrived there was mist over the water with few birds easily visible. Within the hour the mist lifted magically revealing many more birds including 45 roseate spoonbills, a white ibis (unusual), and a woodstork. Further down the lake we found a group of snow geese, another group of white-fronted geese and a pair of western grebes - 23 species in total.

    On November 18, fourteen birders joined us at the Pumping Station at Santa Cruz. We saw crested caracara, cinnamon teal, Forster's tern, American pipit, tropical kingbird and Cassin's kingbird. The total count was 44 species.

  • The December List

  • Here are the 146 species observed in December around Lake Chapala:

    Ani, groove-billed
    Avocet, American (Ca)
    Becard, rose-throated (Dm)
    Blackbird, yellow-headed (Ca,Dp)
    Bunting, indigo
    Bunting, lazuli
    Bunting, varied
    Caracara, crested
    Chat, yellow-breasted (Ac)
    Coot, American
    Cormorant, neotropic
    Cowbird, bronzed
    Cowbird, brown-headed
    Cuckoo, squirrel
    Dove, common ground (Dm)
    Dove, Eurasian collared
    Dove, Inca
    Dove, white-tipped
    Dove, white-winged
    Duck, black-bellied whistling
    Duck, fulvous whistling
    Duck, Mexican
    Egret, cattle
    Egret, great
    Egret, snowy
    Falcon, peregrine (Rp,Dm)
    Finch, house
    Flycatcher, ash-throated
    Flycatcher, cordilleran
    Flycatcher, dusky-capped
    Flycatcher, gray silky (Av)
    Flycatcher, least
    Flycatcher, social
    Flycatcher, vermillion
    Flycatcher, white-throated (Dm)
    Gadwall (Cs)
    Gallinule, common
    Gnatcatcher, blue-gray
    Goldfinch, lesser
    Grackle, great-tailed
    Grebe, eared (Rc)
    Grebe, least
    Grebe, pied-billed
    Grosbeak, black-headed
    Grosbeak, blue
    Gull, laughing
    Gull, ring-billed
    Harrier, northern (Dp)
    Hawk, Cooper's (Rc)
    Hawk, gray
    Hawk, red-tailed
    Hawk, sharp-shinned (Av)
    Hawk, white-tailed (Dm,Dp)
    Heron, black-crowned night
    Heron, great blue
    Heron, green
    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
    Kingbird, western
    Kingfisher, belted
    Kingfisher, green
    Kinglet, ruby-crowned
    Kiskadee, great
    Kite, white-tailed
    Meadowlark, eastern
    Mockingbird, blue
    Mockingbird, northern
    Motmot, russet-crowned
    Oriole, black-backed
    Oriole, black-vented
    Oriole, Bullock's
    Oriole, hooded
    Oriole, orchard
    Oriole, streak-backed
    Osprey (Dm)
    Owl, barn (Sa)
    Pelican, American white
    Pewee, greater
    Pewee, western wood
    Phoebe, black
    Phoebe, Say's (Dp)
    Pigeon, rock
    Pintail, northern
    Pipit, American (Cs)
    Raven, common
    Robin, rufous-backed
    Sandpiper, least
    Sandpiper, spotted
    Seedeater, white-collared
    Shoveler, northern
    Shrike, loggerhead
    Sora (Ca,Dm)
    Sparrow, clay-colored (Cs)
    Sparrow, house
    Sparrow, lark
    Sparrow, rusty-crowned ground
    Sparrow, stripe-headed
    Stilt, black-necked
    Swallow, barn
    Swallow, northern rough-winged
    Swallow, tree
    Swift, Vaux's (Rp)
    Tanager, western (Ac)
    Teal, blue-winged
    Teal, cinnamon
    Teal, green-winged
    Tern, Caspian
    Tern, Forster's
    Thrasher, curve-billed
    Towhee, canyon
    Vireo, plumbeous
    Vireo, warbling (Av,Ac)
    Vulture, black
    Vulture, turkey
    Warbler, black and white
    Warbler, black-throated gray
    Warbler, MacGillivray's
    Warbler, Nashville
    Warbler, orange-crowned
    Warbler, rufous-capped (At)
    Warbler, Wilson's
    Warbler, viginia's
    Warbler, yellow
    Warbler, yellow-rumped
    Woodpecker, golden-fronted
    Woodpecker, ladder-backed
    Wren, Bewick's
    Wren, canyon
    Wren, house
    Wren, Marsh (Ca,Dp)
    Wren, spotted
    Yellowlegs, greater
    Yellowlegs, lesser
    Yellowthroat, common

    Location codes:

    Ac - Ajijic: La Cristina/El Bajio
    At - Trails above Ajijic
    Av - Ajijic village
    Ca - Lake Cajititlan
    Ch - Chapala
    Cs - Santa Cruz/pumping station
    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
    Po - Poncitlan
    Pt - San Pedro Tesistan
    Pz - San Pedro Itzican
    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
    Te - San Juan Tecomatlan/Mezcala
    Tr - Las Trojes/oak forest
    Tu - Tuxcueca canyon
    Xt - Ixtlahuacan/Las Campanillas