Saturday, March 4, 2017

March Newsletter

Chapala Birders Newsletter March 2, 2017
153 Species Sighted Last Month
The complete list of sightings around the lake is shown at the end of this newsletter.

Where are the birds? Though we are seeing many species, many of us are concerned by the apparent lack of numbers of birds to be seen here in the last two years. We do not have local statistical information, and we are interested to know what the trends really are. We do know that the populations of many species are declining steeply in North America due to habitat loss as a result of human development and agribusiness.

Interesting sightings last month:
  • We heard the clear call of the Mountain Trogon on the birding hike on the 'horizontal oak trail' at Las Trojes.
  • We also saw the Red-faced Warbler there, in exactly the spot as in previous years (see the trip report below.)
  • We had two reports of the uncommon Hammond's Flycatcher (see photo below).
Yellow-headed Blackbirds: We would like to know where these birds are roosting at night in the Chapala area. Last year the San Antonio malecon was a major roosting spot. Typically they fly in to roost 5.30 to 7.00 pm and leave in the moring around 7.30 am. If you know where they are roosting this year, please let us know at  
Hammond's Flycatcher
Hammonds Flycatcher as seen last month in West Ajijic

This flycatcher is one of six small "Empydonax" flycatchers that we see here, that are almost identical. Hammond's winters in Mexico and Guatemala, and breeds in the summer from the N.E. United States up to the Arctic Circle. It is identified by the relatively long projection of the primary wing-tips accentuating a relatively short tail, a minor eye ring, small dark narrow bill, and the mandible may be flesh colored.
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 Thursday March 9 we will meet to carpool at Donas Donuts at 8.00 am leaving immediately for the Rio Verde Canyon
, (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 and indicate if you can bring a car.

On Wednesday March 15 we will meet at 8.00 am at El Bajio.We will walk down the lane to the lake, expecting to see a good variety of birds in the tall trees and fields. At about 10.00 we will head to Dona Lolas 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 27 we will meet to carpool at Donas Donuts at 8.00 am leaving immediately for the Rosa Amarilla Loop on the plateau above the south side of the lake (60 minutes drive). Expect to see higher altitude and pasture birds such as Eastern Meadowlark, Redwing Blackbird and if we are lucky a Roadrunner. Bring refreshments for the morning and sandwiches for the 12.30 lunch stop. We will be back about 3.00 pm. If you plan on going, please email John at ahead of time saying whether you can bring a vehicle, to help in carpool planning.
Bird Walk & Trip Reports
On February 8 we had 15 people out to the Two Dams between Santa Cruz  and San Nicolas. Sightings included Yellow-headed Blackbird (a cloud of 4,000 birds), Fulvous Whistling Duck, Ring-billed Gull (about 250 birds on the upper dam), Common Yellowthroat, American Avocet and Northern Bobwhite. The total count was 55 species for the morning.

On February 17 we went to Tapalpa with six birders. We managed to add three species to the Tapalpa list: American Pipit, Pine Siskin (a group of ten birds) and Song Sparrow. We also saw Bufflehead, Slate-throated Redstart and Eastern Bluebird out of list of 42 species in total.

On February 27 we traveled to Las Trojes in a party of four to hike the Horizontal Oak Forest Trail. We manged to count 53 species including Magnificent Hummingbird, Mountain Trogon (heard), Gray Hawk, Greenish Elaenia (heard), Red-faced Warbler and Brown-backed Solitaire (heard).
January Sightings List
Here are the 153 species sighted around Lake Chapala in December:

Ani, groove-billed
Avocet, American (Ps)
Blackbird, yellow-headed (Ps)
Bobwhite, northern (Ca, Ps)
Bunting, indigo
Bunting, lazuli (Pz)
Bunting, painted
Bunting, varied
Caracara, crested
Chat, yellow-breasted
Coot, American
Cormorant, neotropic
Cowbird, bronzed
Cowbird, brown-headed
Cuckoo, squirrel (Sa,At)
Dove, Eurasian collared
Dove, Inca
Dove, white-tipped
Dove, white-winged
Dowitcher, long-billed
Duck, fulvous whistling (Ps)
Duck, Mexican
Duck, ruddy
Egret, cattle
Egret, great
Egret, snowy
Elaenia, greenish (Tr)
Euphonia, elegant (Sa)
Finch, house
Flycatcher, ash-throated (Av)
Flycatcher, cordilleran
Flycatcher, dusky-capped
Flycatcher, gray silky (Sa)
Flycatcher, Hammond's
Flycatcher, least
Flycatcher, social
Flycatcher, vermilion
Gadwall (Sa)
Gallinule, common
Gnatcatcher, blue-gray
Goldfinch, lesser
Grackle, great-tailed
Grebe, least
Grosbeak, black-headed
Grosbeak, blue
Gull, laughing
Gull, ring-billed
Hawk, Cooper's
Hawk, gray (Tr)
Hawk, red-tailed
Heron, black-crowned night
Heron, great blue
Heron, tricolored
Hummingbird, blue-throated (Ac)
Hummingbird, broad-billed
Hummingbird, calliope
Hummingbird, magnificent (Tr)
Hummingbird, ruby-throated
Hummingbird, rufous (Pz)
Hummingbird, violet-crowned
Ibis, white-faced
Jacana, northern
Kestrel, American
Kingbird, Cassin's
Kingbird, thick-billed
Kingbird, tropical
Kingbird, western (Sa)
Kinglet, ruby-crowned
Kiskadee, great
Kite, white-tailed
Mockingbird, blue
Mockingbird, northern
Nightjar, buff collared (Av)
Oriole, black-backed
Oriole, black-vented
Oriole, Bullock's
Oriole, hooded
Oriole, streak-backed
Owl, great-horned (Av)
Parakeet, monk
Pelican, American white
Pewee, greater
Pigeon, rock
Raven, common
Redstart, American (Sa)
Redstart, painted (Pz,TR)
Robin, rufous-backed thrush
Sandpiper, least
Sandpiper, spotted
Sapsucker, yellow-bellied (Ac)
Seedeater, white-collared
Shoveler, northern
Shrike, loggerhead
Solitaire, brown-backed (Sa, Tr0
Sparrow, chipping
Sparrow, clay-colored
Sparrow, house
Sparrow, lark
Sparrow, savannah
Sparrow, song
Sparrow, stripe-headed
Stilt, black-necked (Ps)
Swallow, northern rough-winged
Swallow, tree
Swallow, violet green
Tanager, hepatic (Tr)
Tanager, western
Teal, blue-winged
Teal, cinnamon
Tern, Caspian
Thrasher, curve-billed
Thrush, hermit
Towhee, canyon
Trogon, mountain (Tr)
Tyrannulet, northern beardless (At)
Vireo, Bell's (Sa)
Vireo, Cassin's
Vireo, golden
Vireo, Hutton's
Vireo, warbling (Sa)
Vulture, black
Vulture, turkey
Warbler, black and white
Warbler, black-throated gray
Warbler, Grace's
Warbler, Lucy's (Pz)
Warbler, McGillivray's
Warbler, Nashville
Warbler, orange-crowned
Warbler, red-faced (Tr)
Warbler, rufous-capped (Sa)
Warbler, Townsend's (Sa,Tr)
Warbler, Virginia's (Sa)
Warbler, Wilson's
Warbler, yellow
Warbler, yellow-rumped
Wigeon, American (Ac)
Willet (Ac)
Woodpecker, acorn (Tr)
Woodpecker, golden-fronted
Woodpecker, ladder-backed
Wren, Bewick's
Wren, Canyon
Wren, happy (Sa)
Wren, house (Pz)
Wren, marsh (Ps)
Wren, spotted
Yellowthroat, common (Ps)
Yellowthroat, gray-crowned (Tr)

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 MalteraƱa
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/Rio la Pasion
Te - San Juan Tecomatlan/Mezcala
Tr - Las Trojes/oak forest
Tu - Tuxcueca/South Shore area
Xt - Ixtlahuacan/Las Campanillas
Lake Chapala Birders is an informal group of bird observers led by John and Rosemary Keeling. Don't hesitate to contact us if you are seeking information about birding in the area. We also like to hear about sightings of birds or nests at: or 376.766.1801. Check out the website: