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
157 species seen in February
The complete list of sightings is shown at the end of this email.
Our local White-tailed kites are already mating and building a nest (at the pumping station). Other birds cannot be far behind. March is also the month in which our migratory birds leave us to go north.
In February we had a visit from an expert birder from California. Almost the first bird he saw here was a Green-tailed Towhee, which we regard as rare. Perhaps is not as rare as we thought. We know it is very good at hiding in the underbrush. It is a winter visitor to Mexico.
Eared grebes continue to be spotted on the upper dam above Santa Cruz de la Soledad.
Brown-backed solitaires, previously only heard on the upper hills, are now being heard very close to Ajijic. John Roynon managed to spot one on the north edge of the village. Backyard Bird Count Report Six birders from our area submitted species lists, reporting the sighting of 108 species over the four day period of the count.
The country reporting the most species sighted (780) was India which is becoming a major birding country. Second in the world was Mexico reporting 699 species.
Black Terns over Lake Chapala
This photo by local bird photographer Paul Hart shows an immature Black Tern over Lake Chapala. In the second week of February visiting birder Jules Evens reported seeing Black Terns. We normally see them only occasionally in the winter time. Another visiting expert birder reported this species here in November. "Howell & Webb", our reference text, says of this species: Irregular visitor Nov.-Mar.
The adults are ash-colored birds only 11 in. in length. The immature birds show the unique dark patch below the leading edge of the wing as seen in the photo. They breed in fresh-water marshes of northern US and Canada, and winter on the coasts of South America.
Animated Video of Migration Routes
Researchers have been studying the migratory movement of birds based on ten years of data that birders have entered in the e-bird data base. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has released a fascinating 'animated gif' showing the migration routes for 118 species selected to show a wide range of routes and destinations. The first url below represents each species as a dot, the second as a coded number. Remember each dot represents the center of a cloud of tens or hundreds of thousands of birds averaged over 10 years.
From the video, I observe that here in Jalisco in west-central Mexico, spring migration starts March 1, and most migratory birds are gone by March 31. These birds reach their breeding grounds in the US and Canada in May, and start leaving from there in August. They start arriving back here November 1, and are settled here by November 31.
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 March 5 we will meet at El Bajio on the west side of Ajijic at 8.00 am. Expect to see a variety of shore birds, garden birds and scrub birds. We will be looking for migrants. At about 10.15 we will head for Fonda Dona Lola for breakfast and complete the bird list. How to get there: From Ajijic go about 2 mi. (3 km) west from the light at Colon, turn downhill at the sign for El Bajio next to the extreme speed bumps. Park immediately on the lateral.
On Monday March 14 we will meet at Cristiania Park in Chapala at 8.15 a.m. We should see an interesting selection of species in the tall trees and at the bushy edge of the lake. At about 10.30 we will go to Las Delicias for breakfast and complete the bird list. How to Get There: From Ajijic go the traffic light at the main street of Chapala (Av. Madero), cross straight over and keep going straight for five blocks, turn left at the T intersection and park on the right.
Wednesday March 30 we will meet at Donas Donuts at 8.00 a.m. to carpool, leaving immediately for the Rio Verde, (two hours drive north-east from Ajijic). We will access the canyon at the site which has an entrance fee of 100 pesos per person and hot water issuing from the rocks into pools. Bring bathing suits, towels, refreshments and sandwiches. Expect to see lower altitude birds such as Gila Woodpecker, Squirrel Cuckoo, Mexican Parrotlet and Black Phoebe. We will get back about 5.00 p.m. If you plan to come please email email@example.com at least 48 hours ahead and indicate if you can bring a car.
Bird Walk & Trip Reports
On February 6, a dozen people were out in the subdivision of La Cristina. Fifty five species were observed, including Yellow-breasted Chat, Blue Mockingbird, Bullock's Oriole, Greater Pewee, Western Tanager and Lucy's Warbler and for a special treat, a pair of Painted Buntings.
On February 17, we had two carloads of keen birders going round the Rosa Amarilla Loop on the plateau at the south side of the lake. Everyone was pleased with the sighting of 68 species, including Osprey, White-tailed Hawk, Red-winged Blackbird, Wood Stork, Wigeon and Canvasback.
On February 26, fourteen birders made it to the Pumping Station, where we saw 69 species, despite some construction activity. Species included Gadwall, Fulvous Whistling Duck, Orchard Oriole, Black-backed Oriole, Crested Caracara, Song Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, and the highpoint was a pair of White-tailed Kites mating and sitting on a nest.
February Sightings List
Here are the 157 species observed in February around Lake Chapala:
Ani, groove-billed Avocet, American (Ca,Ra) Becard, rose-throated Bittern, least (Ca) Blackbird, red-winged (Ra,Ps) Blackbird, yellow-headed Bunting, lazuli Bunting, painted Bunting, varied Bushtit Canvasback Caracara, crested Chat, yellow-breasted Coot, American Cormorant, neotropic Cowbird, bronzed Cowbird, brown headed Dove, common ground (Xt,Ca) Dove, Eurasian collared Dove, Inca Dove, white-tipped Dove, white-winged Duck, fulvous-whistling (Ps) Duck, Mexican Duck, ring-necked (Ps) Duck, ruddy Egret, cattle Egret, great Egret snowy Euphonia, elegant (Ps,At) Finch, house Flycatcher, ash-throated Flycatcher, cordilleran Flycatcher, gray silky Flycatcher, least Flycatcher, social Flycatcher, vermilion Flycatcher, willow (At) Gadwall (Ps) Gallinule, common Gnatcatcher, blue-gray Goldfinch, lesser Grackle, great-tailed Grebe, eared (Ps) Grebe, least Grebe, pied-billed Grosbeak, black-headed Grosbeak, blue Gull, laughing Gull, ring-billed Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, gray (Ps) Hawk, red-tailed Hawk, sharp-shinned Hawk, white-tailed (Ra) Heron, black-crowned night Heron, great blue Heron, green Heron, tri-colored Hummingbird, broad-billed Hummingbird, violet-crowned Ibis, white-faced Jacana, northern Kestrel, American Killdeer Kingbird, Cassin's Kingbird, thick-billed Kingbird, tropical Kingbird, western (At) Kingfisher, belted (Xt,Ra) Kiskadee, great Kite, white-tailed (Ps) Meadowlark, eastern (Ra) Mockingbird, blue Mockingbird, northern Nightjar, buff-collared Oriole, black-backed Oriole, black-vented Oriole, Bullock's (Ps) Oriole, hooded Oriole, orchard (Ps) Oriole, streak-backed Osprey (Ca,Ra) Owl, great-horned Parakeet, monk Pelican, American white Pewee, greater Pewee, western wood Phoebe, black (Rp,Ra) Pintail, northern Raven, common Redstart, painted (Sc) Robin, rufous-backed Sandpiper, least Sandpiper, spotted Seedeater, white-collared Shoveler, northern Shrike, loggerhead Solitaire, brown-backed Sora Sparrow, chipping Sparrow, clay-colored Sparrow, house Sparrow, Lark Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, rusty-crowned ground Sparrow, savannah Sparrow, song (Ps) Sparrow, stripe-headed Stilt, black-necked Stork, wood (Ra) Swallow, barn Swallow, northern rough-winged Swallow, tree Swallow, violet-green Tanager, hepatic Tanager, western Teal, blue-winged Teal, cinnamon Teal, green-winged Tern, black (Av) Tern, Caspian (Av,Ps) Tern, Forster's (Av,Ps) Thrasher, curve-billed Thrush, orange-billed nightingale Towhee, canyon Towhee, green-tailed Vireo, Cassin's (At) Vireo, golden Vireo, plumbeous (At) Vireo, warbling Vulture, black Vulture, turkey Warbler, black and white Warbler, black-throated gray Warbler, hermit Warbler, Lucy's (Ac) Warbler, MacGillivray's Warbler, Nashville Warbler, orange-crowned Warbler, rufous-capped Warbler, Townsend's Warbler, Virginia's (Av) Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, yellow (Av,Ps) Warbler, yellow-rumped Wigeon Woodpecker, golden-fronted Woodpecker, golden-fronted Woodpecker, ladder-backed Wren, Bewick's Wren, canyon Wren, house Wren, marsh (Ca,Ps) Wren, spotted Yellowlegs, greater Yellowthroat, common (Ca,Ra)
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