Sunday, September 7, 2014

News Letter

Birding News Lake Chapala
Lake Chapala Birders September 2, 2014

New species at Lake Chapala
Ruddy Turnstone
Red-tagged Pelican Report
Upcoming Trips and Bird Walks
Bird Trip and Walk Reports
117 Species seen in August

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


  • New species at Lake Chapala

  • In mid-August John Keeling observed a male Ruddy Turnstone on the shore at San Nicolas on migration to points south. This is the first time this species has been seen here. They nest on coasts of the high arctic, and winter on the coasts of central and south America. They have been reported on a rare basis at points all over the north American Continent. These birds have a strong pointed bill used to turn over stones and crack open the molluscs found underneath. Some travel vast distances, for instance those wintering in S.E. Australia fly to Siberia for the summer (proven by satellite tracking of attached transmitters).

    As usual at this time the first migrants are passing through: Willet, Marbled Godwit, Wilson's Phalarope Yellow-rumped warbler and Dunlin (uncommon).

    September 6 and 7 (Saturday & Sunday) will be the first "World Shorebirds Day". Birders are encouraged to get out and record sightings of birds on shorelines. Since Lake Chapala is a "Living Lake" and a "Ramsar Site" I think Lake Chapala Birders should put on a good count on Saturday and Sunday. Please let John know by email if you would like to take part in a small team, say 8-noon Saturday, and possibly Sunday.

    Mexico gets a new bird species
    Every August the American Ornithologists Union (AOU) publishes changes to its official list of North and Central American birds. This year the Mexican sub-species of King Rail has been bumped to "full species" status and assigned the new name 'Aztec Rail'. We have seen these shy birds in reed beds at the Lake Cajititlan marsh and at the eastern end of Lake Chapala.

  • Ruddy Turnstone

  • Ruddy Turnstone as sighted last month at San Nicolas bay.

  • Red-tagged Pelican Report

  • On August 30, John Keeling observed that one American White Pelican out of a group of 100 just east of Chapala had an obvious red plastic tag on its wing. He managed to read the code number on the tag and has reported it to the Bird Banding Lab at Patuxent, MD. It seems that red tags come from Minidoka in Indiana, where they currently have 4,000 adult pelicans in the summer, producing 2,000 offspring each year.

  • Upcoming Trips and Bird Walks

  • Over-night Trips

    We are proposing to run over-night trips to the following locations this fall. Note that the maximum capacity for this type of trip is normally 8 people. If you are interested in any of these, please email

    - Patzcuaro, 2 nights, early October
    - San Sebastian del Oeste, 2 nights, late October.
    - Colima Volcano, 1 night, early November.


    Our birdwalks 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.

    On Friday September 12, we will meet at 8.30 am on the shore at San Nicolas Bay. This is currently our best birding area. After about an hour we will go to the lower Santa Cruz Dam before heading for breakfast at Las Delicias Restaurant..
    How to Get There: Proceed west from the old train station in Chapala, passing Santa Cruz on the left and the pumping station marked Aqueducto on your right. The next village is San Nicolas. At the last house turn right on a hidden steep gravel road to the shore. If you arrive at the Country Club, go back a quarter mile.

    On September 17 we will meet at Donas Donuts at 8.00 am, leaving immediately for Las Trojes to hike the horizontal oak forest trail - three hours out and two hours back. This is a relatively easy hike. Do not expect many birds, but we always hope to see uncommon birds like acorn woodpeckers. Bring refreshments and sandwiches for lunch. We will be back about 4.00 pm. If you plan to go please email John at indicating whether you can bring a vehicle.

    On September 30, we will meet at Donas Donuts at 8.00 am, departing immediately for Tapalpa. We expect fall flowers and migrating hummingbirds. Bring light refreshments. We will have lunch at 1.30 in the village of Tapalpa, and will be back in Ajijic about 5.00 pm. If you plan to go please email John, at least 48 hours before the trip, at indicating whether you can bring a vehicle.

  • Bird Trip and Walk Reports

  • On August 7, we had nine people out at the Pumping Station where we saw both red-winged and yellow-headed blackbirds, tri-colored heron, eastern meadowlark and black-backed oriole out of a total of 40 species.

    On August 17, we had a good crowd - 17 people in four cars for the circuit round the Rosa Amarilla loop. Interesting birds included another greater roadrunner at the top of a tree, as well as red-tailed hawk, white-tailed hawk, Cooper's hawk, white-tailed kite, and black-vented oriole, for total of 52 species.

  • 117 Species seen in August

  • Here are the 117 species observed in August around Lake Chapala:

    Ani, groove-billed
    Avocet, American (Sn)
    Becard, rose-throated
    Blackbird, red-winged (Cs)
    Blackbird, yellow-headed (Cs,Sn,Ra)
    Bobwhite, northern (Sn,Ra,Ca,Pt)
    Bunting, varied
    Caracara, crested
    Coot, American
    Cormorant, neotropic
    Cowbird, bronzed
    Cuckoo, squirrel (Ch)
    Dove, Eurasian collared
    Dove, Inca
    Dove, mourning
    Dove, white-tipped
    Dowitcher, long-billed (Sn)
    Duck, black-bellied whistling (Sn)
    Duck, fulvous whistling (Cs,Sn)
    Duck, Mexican
    Duck, ruddy (Ra)
    Dunlin (Sn)
    Egret, cattle
    Egret, great
    Egret, snowy
    Elaenia, greenish (At)
    Finch, house
    Flycatcher, ash-throated
    Flycatcher, cordilleran
    Flycatcher, dusky-capped
    Flycatcher, gray silky
    Flycatcher, social
    Flycatcher, vermillion
    Gallinule, common
    Gallinule, purple (Cs)
    Gnatcatcher, blue-gray
    Godwit, marbled (Sn)
    Goldfinch, lesser
    Grackle, great-tailed
    Grassquit, blue-black
    Grebe, least
    Grebe, pied-billed
    Grosbeak, black-headed
    Grosbeak, blue
    Gull, laughing
    Gull, ring-billed
    Hawk, Cooper's
    Hawk, red-tailed
    Hawk, white-tailed (Ra)
    Heron, black-crowned night
    Heron, great-blue
    Heron, green
    Heron, little blue (Ca,Sn)
    Heron, tricolored
    Hummingbird, beryline (Pt,At)
    Hummingbird, broad-billed
    Hummingbird, rufous (Ra)
    Hummingbird, violet-crowned
    Ibis, white-faced
    Jacana, northern
    Kingbird, Cassin's
    Kingbird, thick-billed
    Kingbird, tropical
    Kiskadee, great
    Kite, white-tailed (Ra)
    Meadowlark, eastern (Ra)
    Mockingbird, blue
    Mockingbird, northern (Pt)
    Motmot, russet-crowned (At)
    Nightjar, buff-collared
    Oriole, black-backed
    Oriole, black-vented
    Oriole, orchard
    Oriole, streak-backed
    Owl, great horned (Av,Sa)
    Pelican, American White
    Pewee, western wood
    Phalarope, Wilson's (Sn)
    Pigeon, rock
    Raven, common (Ca)
    Roadrunner, greater(Ra,Ca)
    Robin, rufous-backed
    Sandpiper, least
    Sandpiper, spotted
    Seedeater, white-collared
    Shrike, loggerhead
    Sparrow, Botteri's (Ra,Pt)
    Sparrow, house
    Sparrow, rusty-crowned ground
    Sparrow, stripe-headed
    Stilt, black-necked
    Stork, wood
    Swallow, barn
    Swallow, cliff
    Swallow, northern rough-winged
    Tanager, western (Aj)
    Tern, Forster's
    Thrush, hermit
    Thrush, orange-billed nightingale
    Towhee, canyon
    Turnstone, ruddy (Sn)
    Vireo, golden (Pt)
    Vulture, black
    Vulture, turkey
    Warbler, rufous-capped
    Warbler, yellow (Sn)
    Warbler, yellow-rumped
    Willet (Sn)
    Woodpecker, golden-fronted
    Woodpecker, ladder-backed
    Wren, Bewick's
    Wren, canyon
    Wren, spotted
    Yellowthroat, common (Ca)
    Yellowthroat, gray-crowned (Ra,Cu)

    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 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
    Te - San Juan Tecomatlan/Mezcala
    Tr - Las Trojes/oak forest
    Tu - Tuxcueca/South Shore area
    Xt - Ixtlahuacan/Las Campanillas