Sunday, December 3, 2017

Birding Newsletter

Chapala Birders Newsletter December 2, 2017
132 Species Sighted Last Month
The complete list of November sightings is shown at the end of this newsletter.

Interesting sightings last month:

-  We have had a report of Double-crested Cormorants at Lake Chapala. These have not been seen here before. We would like to receive confirmation by way of another reliable sighting. Ebird records show that this species is very common across North America, and it has been spreading southwards into Mexico, first on the coasts and now into the interior. Compared with our native Neotropic Cormorant, it is slightly larger, has a heavier body, a longer neck and a shorter tail.

-  We have had two recent pygmy owl sightings, one in Ajijic by Wendy and Niels Petersen and the other on a recent birdwalk by Gail Madison at the pumping station. When shown photos of Ferruginous Pygmy Owl and Mountain Pygmy Owl, they picked the Mountain Pygmy Owl as the closest match.

Another New Species for the Lake Chapala List

Mid-month we were travelling in the Poncitlan area with visiting birder Sally Pachulski from Maine and Texas when we spotted, on top of a bush, a large wren which we identified as a Cactus Wren. This species (described below) was reported here in the 1970s, but we have not seen one here in the last nine years. Ebird records confirm that we are at the very southern edge of its current range.
Be sure to sign up for the Christmas Bird Count
The Ajijic area Christmas Bird Count (CBC) will be held on Friday December 15.

This is one of the birding highlights of the year. We invite all of you to take part - it's a fun day of intensive birding in an assigned territory with your team. We plan several teams of about five people, each with a leader and an assigned area. Most teams start at about 8.00 am and are usually through by lunch time. There is no cost to take part in the count, but there is a charge for the evening dinner celebration at 6.00 p.m. where we share details of each team's adventures. Feel free to invite friends along if they have an interest in birds. We ask all participants to preregister so we can plan the counting teams and the dinner.

Bird Count Registration:

Registration will take place on two days, December 12 and 13 (Tuesday and Wednesday) 10.00 am to noon at the Food Court in Laguna Mall, Libramiento at the Carretera. Look for John wearing binoculars. If these times do not work for you, phone John at 766-1801, or email We can arrange an alternate time for you.

The second Christmas Bird Count is on Monday December 18. This is the La Cienega (marsh) CBC at the east end of the lake some 80 km (50 miles) away. This is generally attended by our keener birders but all are welcome. We set up two teams assigned to different parts of the dyke across the lake. The teams leave Ajijic about 8.00 am and meet for a sandwich lunch at about 1.00 pm on the shore of the Lerma River. You can sign up for this count at the same time as signing up for the Ajijic CBC.

The Guadalajara CBC is on Sunday December 17. Counting teams go into the Barrancas at 7.30 am and into the parks at 4.00 pm. To register phone 331.140.1926
Cactus Wren
Cactus Wren photo by Mexican birder Raul Padilla.

Species details:

-  The Cactus Wren is larger than our other "large wren" which is the Spotted Wren. It has long legs, a long curved bill, a long white supercilium over the eye and extra-dense black spots on the breast.
-  It inhabits deserts and dry scrub, being commonly found in California, Texas, Baja California and nothern Mexico. We are at the southern end of its range.
-  Pairs mate in the spring; the nest is a large, untidy ball of grass; the eggs are incubated by the female for 16 days; the nestlings are fed by both parents and leave the nest after 20 days. The male builds further nests, which could be dummy nests, or trial nests, as the pair may nest up to three times in a summer. They are said to remain together all year on a permanent territory.
-  They forage in low trees and on the ground, eating bettles, ants, wasps, grasshoppers and a variety of berries, seeds and fruits.
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 December 8, we will meet at 8.30 a.m. at the Jocotepec Malecon Park.  We expect to see a variety of water birds as well as other species in the tall trees of the park. At about 10.30 we will head to Frida's for breakfast (close to the park).
How to Get There: Coming from Ajijic, as you get close to Jocotepec, you encounter a long left curve, a series of topes and then a curve to right, with an OXXO on the left side. Turn left at the OXXO, go down to the lake and park in the parking lot.

On Wednesday December 27, we will meet at Donas Donuts at 8.00 am to carpool, leaving immediately for Villa Corona (60 minutes drive). We expect to see Black-necked Stilts and Roseate Spoonbills, among other species. Bring your own morning refreshments. We will be back in Ajijic by 1.00 pm. If you plan on going, please email John at ahead of time saying whether you will bring a vehicle, to help in carpool planning.
Bird Walk & Trip Reports
On November 10 we had nine birders out at Cristiania Park in Chapala where it was a little breezy which seemed to keep the birds away, nevertheless we saw 42 species including Tricolored Heron, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Sora, Pied-billed Grebe, Belted Kingfisher and Monk Parakeet.

On November 17 ten of us travelled to the Rosa Amarilla loop on the south-side plateau to see 48 species including Greater Yellow-legs, Hooded Oriole, Northern Harrier, Eastern Bluebird, Northern Mockingbird, Savannah Sparrow, and more than 2,000 Ruddy Ducks.

On November 27 we had five carloads of birders at the Lake Cajititlan Marsh. We observed 50 species, among them Marsh Wren, Common Yellowthroat, Lark Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Groove-billed Ani, Cooper's Hawk, White-tailed Kite, Green Heron and some 500 Ring-billed Gulls.
Monthly Sightings List
Here are the 132 species sighted around Lake Chapala in November:

Ani groove-billed
Blackbird, yellow-headed
Bluebird, eastern (Ra)
Bunting, varied (Av)
Caracara, crested
Coot, American
Cormorant, double-crested
Cormorant, neotropic
Cowbird, bronzed
Cowbird, brown-headed
Cuckoo, squirrel
Dove, Eurasian collared
Dove, Inca
Dove, mourning
Dove, white-tipped
Dove, white-winged
Duck, Mexican
Duck, ruddy (Ra)
Egret, cattle
Egret, great
Egret, snowy
Euphonia, elegant (Av)
Falcon, peregrine (Ca)
Finch, house
Flycatcher, ash-throated (Ra,Sa)
Flycatcher, cordilleran
Flycatcher, dusky-capped
Flycatcher, gray-silky (Av, Ra)
Flycatcher, social
Flycatcher, vermillion
Gallinule, common
Gnatcatcher, blue-gray
Goldfinch, lesser
Grackle, great-tailed
Grebe, least (Pz)
Grebe, pied-billed (Ra)
Grosbeak, black-headed
Grosbeak, blue
Gull, laughing
Gull, ring-billed
Harrier, northern
Hawk, Cooper's
Hawk, red-tailed
Heron, black-crowned night
Heron, great blue
Heron, green
Heron, little blue
Heron, tri-colored
Hummingbird, berylline (Av,Sa)
Hummingbird, broad-billed
Hummingbird, rufous
Hummingbird, violet-crowned
Ibis, white-faced
Jacana, northern
Kestrel, American
Kingbird, Cassin's
Kingbird, thick-billed
Kingbird, tropical
Kingbird, western (Sa)
Kingfisher, belted (Ca)
Kiskadee, great
Kite, white-tailed
Mockingbird, blue
Mockingbird, northern
Nightjar, buff-collared
Oriole, black-backed
Oriole, black-vented
Oriole, Bullock's
Oriole, hooded
Oriole, steak-backed
Osprey (Ra)
Owl, great-horned (Av)
Parakeet, monk
Pelican, American white
Pelican, brown
Pewee, greater (Av)
Pigeon, rock
Pintail, northern
Raven, common
Redstart, American (Ac)
Robin, rufous-backed
Sandpiper, spotted
Seedeater, white-collared
Shoveler, northern
Shrike, loggerhead
Sparrow, house
Sparrow, lark
Sparrow, Lincoln's
Sparrow, rusty-crowned ground
Sparrow, Savannah (Ra)
Sparrow, song (Ca)
Sparrow, stripe-headed
Stilt, black-necked
Swallow, barn
Swallow, northern rough-winged
Swallow, tree
Tanager, western (Av)
Teal, blue-winged
Teal, cinnamon
Teal, green-winged (Jo)
Tern, Caspian
Thrasher, curve-billed
Thrush, orange-billed nightingale
Towhee, canyon
Tyrannulet, northern, beardless (At)
Vireo, black-capped
Vireo, Cassin's
Vireo, plumbeous (At)
Vireo, warbling
Vulture, black
Vulture, turkey
Warbler, black and white
Warbler, black-throated gray
Warbler, Lucy's (Ac)
Warbler, MacGillivray's (At)
Warbler, Nashville
Warbler, orange-crowned
Warbler, Virginia's (Sa)
Warbler, Wilson's
Warbler, yellow-rumped
Willet (Dm)
Woodpecker, golden-fronted
Woodpecker, ladder-backed
Wren, Bewick's
Wren, cactus (Pz)
Wren, canyon
Wren, house (Ac,Ra)
Wren, marsh
Wren, Spotted
Yellowlegs, greater (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: