Lake Chapala Birders Observadores de Aves del Lago de Chapala Your hosts John and Rosemary Keeling
If you have reports of interesting bird sightings near Lake Chapala, or need information about birding at the lake, email us at: ChapalaBirders@yahoo.com or phone 376-766-1801
135 species seen in January
The complete list of sightings is shown at the end of this email. There were a number of interesting sighting reports in January, many from visiting birders. - John Keeling saw a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in eucalyptus trees at the upper dam at Santa Cruz.. - Wilson's Snipe are again being seen at the pond known as Agua Escondida near Ixtlahuacan. - Visiting birder Bob Porter from Canada observed a small flock of Snow Geese flying over the lake at Ajijic. - A birder from Oregon reported a Rufous-crowned Motmot at the east side of Ajijic. Don't forget to do some birding in the period of the "Great Backyard Bird Count" anywhere in our area - it is not limited to your own little backyard. (See details below). Accidental Species Another interesting sighting this month was a Magnificent Frigatebird at Jocotepec, spotted by visiting birder Paul Weston from Wales. This bird rarely crosses land, and is known for attacking other birds to steal food. This in not the first report of this sea-going bird here. In 1976 a similar sighting was recorded by Thelma Converse in Chapala. The official term for this type of sighting is "Accidental" which is typically reserved for species sighted no more than 3 times in a period of ten years or more in a given county, state or province. The idea is that such birds are assumed to be way off their normal course. Another official term reserved for rare birds is "Casual" which is typically employed for species showing up from 4 to 7 times in ten or more years. If a species is seen more than 8 times it becomes a "Regular".
This photo by Erik Benedictson shows a young male Black-backed Oriole observed in Chapala. This used to be called Abeille's Oriole, a sub-species of the Bullock's Oriole. But DNA evidence showed that despite very similar appearance, the Abeille's was not related to Bullock's, hence the new name Black-backed. It has more yellow in the tail feathers, and has a different pattern of black on the side of the face. It is endemic to Mexico, summering in central and northern Mexico and wintering in central and southern Mexico.
The Great Backyard Bird Count
You are all invited to take part in this annual bird count, February 15 to 17. This is now a world-wide count - and anyone can take part. Just go out by yourself or form a small group, take a checklist, record the species and the numbers of birds you see, then enter the data at the GBBC web site. You will be able to see what species were seen by other people in our area. We are hoping for a good showing from Lake Chapala. The data becomes part of a database used for scientific study.
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 Saturday February 6 we will meet at 8.00 a.m. at La Cristina on the west side of Ajijic. We will see some shore birds, some birds in the tall trees and some birds in the scrub. At about 10.00 a.m. we will head to Fonda Dona Lola for breakfast and complete the bird list. How to get there: Drive about 2 mi (4km) west from Colon, look for signs for Hacienda La Cristina (near signs for Las Palmas, a bus stop and a vivero), turn down to the lake, and park close to the lake.
On Wednesday February 17 we will meet at 8.00 a.m. at Donas Donuts to carpool, leaving immediately for the Rosa Amarilla Loop. This is on the south shore, a thousand feet above the lake. We will see higher altitude grassland birds and water birds on the reservoirs. Bring jackets for the early morning, refreshments for mid-morning and sandwiches for the lunch stop at 12.30. We will be back around 3.00 p.m.
On Friday February 26 we will meet at 8.15 a.m. at the Pumping Station. Expect to see a variety of birds of the fields and hedgerows. At about 10.15 we will go to Las Delicias for breakfast. How to get there: Take the Mexcala road from Chapala, pass Santa Cruz on your left, the air strip and water ski park on your right. Look out for the Pumping station on the right with three large gray pump towers and a sign "Acueducto". Immediately after this, turn right on a hidden gravel road. After one mile (2km) turn left at the T junction. Park at the next intersection, leaving space for farmer's cars and pickups to pass.
Bird Walk & Trip Reports
On January 11, fifteen birders assembled on the shores of Riberas del Pilar. The weather was cool and bright, and we were happy to sight 61 species, including Fulvous Whistling Duck, Tri-colored Heron, Black-vented Oriole, Yellow-breasted Chat, Greater Pewee, Loggerhead Shrike, Plumbeus Vireo and Stripe-headed sparrow.
On January 18, we had two carloads of birders to explore the Sierra de Tapalpa which is 1,500 ft higher than Ajijic. Species observed included Bufflehead, Eastern Bluebird, Striped Sparrow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Arizona Woodpecker, White-tailed Hawk, Olive Warbler, Rufous-capped Warbler and Rufous Hummingbird, out of a total of 48 species. (Note: these are not part of the Lake Chapala List.)
On January 29, a group of eleven birders drove to the Cajititlan Marsh, seeing Marsh Wren, Common Yellowthroat, Wilson's Snipe, Ruddy Duck, Sora, Orchard Oriole, Black-necked Stilt, Northern Jacana, and Crested Caracara. The total count was 64 species.
January Sightings List
Here are the 135 species observed in January around Lake Chapala:
Ani, groove-billed Avocet, American (Ca) Blackbird, red-winged (Rp,Ca) Blackbird, yellow-headed Bunting, indigo Bunting, lazuli (Ps,Ca) Bunting, painted (Ps) Bunting, varied Bushtit Caracara, crested (Ca) Chat, yellow-breasted (Rp) Coot, American Cormorant, neotropic Cowbird, bronzed Cowbird, brown-headed Dove, common ground (Ca) Dove, Eurasian collared Dove, Inca Dove, mourning Dove, white-tipped Dove, white-winged Duck, fulvous-whistling (Rp,Ca) Duck, Mexican Duck, ruddy Egret, cattle Egret, great Egret, snowy Euphonia, elegant (At) Finch, house Flycatcher, ash-throated Flycatcher, dusky-capped Flycatcher, gray silky Flycatcher, social Flycatcher, vermilion Frigatebird, magnificent (Jo) Gadwall (Ca) Gallinule, common Gnatcatcher, blue-gray Goldfinch, lesser Goose, snow (Av) Grackle, great-tailed Grebe, eared (Ps) Grebe, least (Ca) Grebe, pied-billed (Rp) Grosbeak, black-headed Grosbeak, blue Gull, laughing Gull, ring-billed Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, gray Hawk, red-tailed Heron, black-crowned night Heron, great-blue Heron, green (Ca) Heron, tri-colored (Rp) Hummingbird, broad-billed Hummingbird, violet-crowned Ibis, white-faced Jacana, northern Kestrel, American Killdeer Kingbird, Cassin's Kingbird, thick-billed Kingbird, tropical Kingfisher, belted (Xt) Kiskadee, great Kite, white-tailed (Av,Ca) Mockingbird, blue Mockingbird, northern Motmot, rufous-crowned Oriole, black-backed (Ch,Ca) Oriole, black-vented Oriole, hooded Oriole, orchard (Ca) Oriole, streak-backed Owl, great-horned Parakeet, monk Pelican, American white Pewee, greater (Rp) Phoebe, black (Ps,Ca) Pigeon, rock Pintail, northern (Ca) Raven, common Robin, rufous-backed Sandpiper, least Sandpiper, spotted Sapsucker, yellow-bellied (Ps) Seedeater, white-collared Shoveler, northern Shrike, loggerhead Snipe, Wilson's (Xt) Sora Sparrow, chipping Sparrow, clay-colored Sparrow, house Sparrow, lark Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, savannah Sparrow, strip-headed Stilt, black-necked (Ca) Swallow, barn Swallow, northern rough-winged Swallow, tree Swallow, violet-green Teal, blue-winged Teal, cinnamon Teal, green-winged Tern, Caspian Tern, Forster's Thrasher, curve-billed Towhee, canyon Vireo, black-capped Vireo, Cassin's (At) Vireo, golden (At) Vireo, plumbeous (Rp) Vireo, warbling Vulture, black Vulture, turkey Warbler, black and white Warbler, MacGillivray's (At) Warbler, Nashville Warbler, orange-crowned (At) Warbler, rufous-capped Warbler, Townsend's (At) Warbler, Virginia's (At) Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, yellow-rumped Wigeon, American Woodpecker, golden-fronted Woodpecker, ladder-backed Wren, Bewick's Wren, canyon Wren, house (Ca) Wren, marsh (Ca) 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 Te - San Juan Tecomatlan/Mezcala Tr - Las Trojes/oak forest Tu - Tuxcueca/South Shore area Xt - Ixtlahuacan/Las Campanillas