Monday, April 3, 2017

April Newsletter

Chapala Birders Newsletter April 2, 2017
151 Species Sighted Last Month
This is a high number of species for March in recent years, though figures used to be better - our highest March count was 166 species in 2011. The complete list of March sightings is shown at the end of this newsletter.

Interesting sightings last month:
  • On the Allen Lloyd Trail we saw Elegant Euphonia, which has been  uncommon in the last year.
  • While working on the Birding App for Lake Chapala, we listened to the recorded call of the Northern Beardless Tyrannulet, and heard it in Ajijic within a week. It is an under-reported bird - see below.
  • Visiting Lake Cajititlan marsh we saw a Merlin in a tall dead tree at the lake edge for a sufficient time to establish that it was not a Peregrine Falcon nor an American Kestrel.
  • Hiking with Duncan Poole and Brian Lewis up the arroyo above Zapotitan near Jocotepec, we encountered both Magnificent and White-eared Hummingbirds at 1,500 feet above the lake level.
Northern Beardless Tyrannulet
Northern Beardless Tyrannulet as seen last month in Ajijic
  • This is our very smallest flycatcher, inhabiting scrub, open areas and woodlands from Mexico to Costa Rica. It is known to be elusive (and under-reported), often sitting in a tree not moving. Most times you will only know it is there from its call, either a descending 'peej-peej-peej-peej' (weaker than a Canyon Wren call) or 'tiddlydoo'.
  • It has an upright posture, a drab gray-brown color, with the mandible partially flesh-colored, often raising its crest into a dome shape.
  • It prefers to pick small insects from trees and leaves, occasionally flying out to capture flying insects, and eats berries in season.
  • The nest is built in trees at mid-levels hidden between clumps of other growths like air-plants or mistletoe, with a side entrance.
  • It is called 'beardless' because it lacks the little bristles at the base of the bill seen on most flycatchers.
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 Friday April 7 we will meet at 8.00am to walk the Allen Lloyd Trail
which follows a mile-long arroyo with lots of underbrush in which birds love to hide. It remains our most interesting local bird walk. Expect to see Golden-fronted Woodpecker, stripe-headed Sparrow and possibly a Squirrel Cuckoo. At 10.15 we will head to Sunrise restaurant for breakfast and complete the birdlist.
How to Get There: Drive up the Libramiento a half mile and park on the north side of the road opposite El Dorado Condominium.

On Wednesday April 19 we will meet at 8.00am to carpool at Donas Donuts departing immediately for Lake Cajititlan (30 minutes drive). We will see a variety of marsh and lake birds. At about 10.15 we will go to Las Delicias restaurant in Chapala for breakfast and complete the bird list. If you plan on going, email John: indicating whether or not you will have a car.

Results of the February 17-20 "Great Backyard Bird Count".
This year four of our local birders submitted lists during the four-day count period. Worldwide, more than 200,000 people submitted reports on 5,940 species. The specie with the highest count was the Snow Goose with 4.7 million individuals reported.

The country reporting the most species was India with 801 species,  followed closely in second place by Mexico with 774 species.

It was observed that as a result of an unusually warm winter this year in the U.S., many birds started their northward migration more than two weeks earlier than normal, particularly Tree Swallows, Killdeer, Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles.
Bird Walk & Trip Reports
On March 9 four of us went to the Rio Verde canyon near Acatic. The hot pools were better than ever for swimming. We saw Gila Woodpecker, Black-throated Magpie Jay, Green Kingfisher, Common Black Hawk and Squirrel Cuckoo from a total 39 species sighted.

On March 15 we had 14 people out at El Bajio on the west side of Ajijic. We saw an incredible 75 species, including Black-necked Stilt, Summer Tanager, Plumbeous Vireo, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Yellow-breasted Chat, White-tailed Kite, Tri-colored Heron, Berylline Hummingbird and Rufous Hummingbird.

On March 27 a group of seven birders went to the Rosa Amarilla Loop on the 'El Tigre' plateau. After a slow start we accumulated a list of 66 species including Gray Hawk, American Avocet, Lesser Yellowlegs, Say's Phoebe, Stripe-headed Sparrow, Northern Mockingbird and a flock of Brown-headed Cowbirds hiding in a bush making sounds exactly like water flowing into a pool.
March Sightings List
Here are the 151 species sighted around Lake Chapala in March:

Ani, groove-billed
Avocet, American (Ca,Ra)
Blackbird, red-winged (Ra)
Blackbird, yellow-headed
Bunting, indigo
Bunting, lazuli
Bunting, painted (Ac)
Bunting, varied
Caracara, crested
Chat, yellow-breasted (Ac,Ca)
Coot, American
Cormorant, neotropic
Cowbird, bronzed
Cowbird, brown-headed
Cuckoo, squirrel
Dove, common ground (Ca)
Dove, Eurasian collared
Dove, Inca
Dove, white-tipped
Dove, white-winged
Dowitcher, long-billed
Duck, fulvous whistling
Duck, Mexican
Duck, ruddy
Egret, cattle
Egret, great
Egret, snowy
Elaenia, greenish (Jo)
Euphonia, elegant (Sa,Jo)
Finch, house
Flycatcher, ash-throated
Flycatcher, dusky-capped
Flycatcher, gray silky (Jo)
Flycatcher, Hammond's (Jo)
Flycatcher, least (Ac)
Flycatcher, Nutting's (Av)
Flycatcher, social
Flycatcher, vermillion
Gadwall (Ac)
Gnatcatcher, blue-grey
Goldfinch, lesser
Grackle, great-tailed
Grebe, least
Grosbeak, black-headed
Grosbeak, blue
Gull, laughing
Gull, ring-billed
Hawk, Cooper's (Sa,Jo)
Hawk, gray (Ac,Ra)
Hawk, red-tailed
Heron, black-crowned night
Heron, great blue
Heron, green
Heron, tri-colored
Hummingbird, berylline
Hummingbird, blue-throated (Aw)
Hummingbird, broad-billed
Hummingbird, magnificent (Jo)
Hummingbird, rufous (Ac,Jo)
Hummingbird, violet-crowned
Hummingbird, white-eared (Jo)
Ibis, white-faced
Jacana, norther
Kestrel, American
Kingbird, Cassin's
Kingbird, thick-billed
Kingbird, tropical
Kingbird, western
Kingfisher, belted (Ca)
Kiskadee, great
Kite, white-tailed
Merlin (Ca)
Mockingbird, blue
Mockingbird, northern
Nightjar, buff-collared
Oriole, black-backed (Ac)
Oriole, black vented
Oriole, Bullock's (Ac)
Oriole, hooded
Oriole, streak-backed
Osprey (Ra)
Owl, great horned
Parakeet, monk
Pelican, American white
Pewee, greater
Phoebe, black (Tz)
Phoebe, Say's (Ra)
Pigeon, rock
Raven, common
Redstart, American (Sa,Ac)
Robin, rufous-backed
Sandpiper, spotted
Seedeater, white-collared
Shoveler, northern
Shrike, loggerhead
Solitaire, brown-backed (Jo,Tz)
Sparrow, chipping
Sparrow, house
Sparrow, lark
Sparrow, Lincoln's (Ca)
Sparrow, rusty-crowned ground
Sparrow, song (Ac)
Sparrow, stripe-headed (Ra)
Stilt, black-necked
Swallow, barn
Swallow, cliff (Ra)
Swallow, northern rough-winged
Swallow, tree (Ac)
Swallow, violet-green (Ra)
Tanager, summer (Ac,Tz)
Tanager, western (Sa)
Teal, blue-winged
Teal, cinnamon
Tern Caspian
Thrasher, curve-billed
Thrush, orange-billed nightingale
Towhee, canyon
Tyrannulet, northern beardless (Ra,Av)
Vireo, Bell's (Tz)
Vireo, Cassin's
Vireo, golden (Jo)
Vireo, plumbeous (Ac,Tz)
Vireo, warbling
Vulture, black
Vulture, turkey
Warbler, black and white
Warbler, black-throated gray
Warbler, Lucy's (Ac)
Warbler, McGillivray's
Warbler, Nashville
Warbler, orange-crowned
Warbler, rufous-capped (Sa)
Warbler, Tennessee (Ac)
Warbler, Townsend's
Warbler, Virginia's
Warbler, Wilson's
Warbler, yellow-rumped
Wigeon, American (Ac)
Willet (Ac)
Woodpecker, golden-fronted
Woodpecker, ladder-backed
Wren, Bewick's
Wren, canyon
Wren, house (Sa)
Wren, marsh (Ca)
Wren, spotted
Yellowlegs, lesser (Ra)
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 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: