Tuesday, April 10, 2018


Chapala Birders Newsletter April 2, 2018
160 Species Sighted Last Month
This is another record number of species for this time of year. We think this is primarily a result of having more and better birders here.  The complete list of March sightings is shown at the end of this newsletter.

April is the month in which all the northern migrants fly up north to breed in the US, Canada and the Arctic. At the same time we see southern migrants arriving here to breed, including Northern Beardless Tyrannulet and Western Wood Pewee.

Carlo Cuevas has been busy in March, monitoring the birds of the Jocotepec Malecon park for his undergraduate thesis and starting a birding group in Joco. He invited birders from Guadalajara and Autlan to his first bird walk on March 11. He also took his Autlan friends to the top of the Jocotepec mountain, where they identified two species which are new for Lake Chapala but which they see in the Autlan area: Blue Bunting and Colima Warbler.

Other unusual sightings:
- Carlo observed a Virginia Rail in the reeds at the pier of the Jocotepec malecon. (We also managed to see this bird on our March 9 bird walk).
- Don Bell saw a rare Northern Goshawk on the west side of Ajijic.
Virginia Rail
Photo of a Virginia Rail at the Jocotepec malecon taken by Carlo Cuevas in March. This is unusual here. It is shy and is at the southern end of its 'normal' winter range.

Species details:

Virginia Rail may be identified by three characteristics: it is half the size of our other rail (Aztec Rail); has a blue-gray side to the face; and patches of rusty-red feathers on the wings.
-  It is found only in shallow water marshes with reeds. It is rarely seen, spending its time hiding in the reeds. It eats insects and small animals such as worms, slugs, small fish and frogs.
-  It winters from September to April in much of central Mexico as far south as Lake Chapala and also on the southeast coast of the US.
-  It flys north in April, and in May lays up to a dozen eggs which produce black chicks.
-  Its summer range includes southern Canada, north-east US and much of the western US.
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 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 Monday April 16, 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 around 1.00 pm. If you plan on going, please email John at chapalabirders@yahoo.com ahead of time saying whether you will bring a vehicle, to help in carpool planning.

On Wednesday April 25, we will meet at 8.00 am at Donas Donuts, leaving immediately for the Sierra de Tapalpa (90 minutes away). We will bird from 9.30 till 12.30 and have lunch in the town of Tapalpa and complete the bird list. We expect to see higher altitude birds such as Acorn Woodpecker and Slate-throated Redstart and if we are lucky Trans-volcanic Jay. Bring your own refreshments for the morning. We will be back about 5.00 pm. If you plan on going, please email John at chapalabirders@yahoo.com ahead of time saying whether you can bring a vehicle.
Bird Walk & Trip Reports
On March 9, twelve birders joined us at the Jocotepec Malecon Park. The highlights were sightings of the rare Virginia Rail, and also the shy Least Bittern. We also saw Yellow Warbler, Lucy's Warbler, Marsh Wren, Bullock's Oriole and Common Yellowthroat, out of a total of 46 species.

On March 14, we had 18 people to visit the prime spots on the Lakeshore east of Chapala.We recorded American Pipit, Orchard Oriole, American Avocet, Red-winged Blackbird and Yellow-headed Blackbird. Also we saw a hawk in a tree showing a blue bill, which we identified as an immature Red-tailed Hawk. The species count was 74.

On March 26, we attracted 20 people to walk up the Allen Lloyd Arroyo where we spotted 55 species including Lazuli Bunting, Western Kingbird, Cooper's Hawk, Rufous-capped Warbler and Macgillivray's Warbler. After hearing the call of the tiny Northern Beardless Tyrannulet, we managed to bring it in close by playing a recording. This bird is frequently overlooked because of its small size.  
Monthly Sightings List
Here are the 160 species sighted around Lake Chapala in March:

Ani, groove-billed
Avocet, American (Ch)
Bittern, least (Jo)
Blackbird, red-winged (Ch)
Blackbird, yellow-headed (Ch)
Bunting, blue (Jo)
Bunting, indigo
Bunting, lazuli (Sa)
Bunting, painted (Ac)
Bunting, varied
Bushtit (At)
Caracara, crested
Chat, yellow-breasted (Ac)
Coot, American
Cormorant, neotropic
Cowbird, bronzed
Cowbird, brown-headed
Cuckoo, squirrel (At)
Dove, Eurasian collared
Dove, Inca
Dove, mourning (Av)
Dive, white-tipped
Dove, white-winged
Dowitcher, long-billed (Ch)
Duck, Mexican
Egret, cattle
Egret, great
Egret, snowy
Finch, house
Flycatcher, ash-throated (Jo,Sa)
Flycatcher, cordilleran (Sa)
Flycatcher, dusky-capped
Flycatcher, gray (Ac)
Flycatcher, least (Sa)
Flycatcher, social
Flycatcher, vermilion
Gadwall (Ac,Ch)
Gallinule, common
Gnatcatcher, blue-gray
Goldfinch, lesser
Goshawk, northern
Grackle, great-tailed
Grebe, Clark's (Tu)
Grebe, least
Grosbeak, black-headed
Grosbeak, blue
Gull, laughing
Gull, ring-billed
Hawk, Cooper's
Hawk, red-tailed
Heron, black-crowned night
Heron, great blue
Heron, green (Ch)
Heron, tri-colored
Hummingbird, broad-billed
Hummingbird, calliope ((Ac)
Hummingbird, ruby-throated (Ac)
Hummingbird, violet-crowned
Hummingbird, white-eared (Ac)
Ibis, white-faced
Kestrel, American
Kingbird, Cassin's
Kingbird, thick-billed
Kingbird, tropical
Kingbird, western (Sa)
Kingfisher, belted
Kingfisher, green (La)
Kiskadee, great
Kite, white-tailed (Ch)
Mockingbird, blue
Mockingbird, northern
Motmot, russet-crowned (At,Jo)
Nighthawk, lesser (Jo)
Nightjar, buff-collared (Av,Jo)
Oriole, black-backed
Oriole, black-vented
Oriole, Bullock's
Oriole, hooded
Oriole, orchard (Ch)
Oriole, streak-backed
Owl, barn (Jo)
Owl, ferruginous pygmy (Jo)
Owl, great horned
Parakeet, monk (Av,Ch,Sn)
Parrot, red-lored (Ch)
Pelican, American white
Pelican, brown (Jo)
Pewee, greater (Av,Ch)
Pigeon, rock
Pintail, northern
Pipit, American (Ps)
Plover, semipalmated (Ch)
Rail, Virginia (Jo)
Raven, common
Redstart, American (Jo)
Redstart, painted (Sa)
Roadrunner, lesser (Jo)
Robin, rufous-backed
Sandpiper, least
Sandpiper, spotted
Sapsucker, yellow-bellied (Jo)
Seedeater, white-collared
Shoveler, northern (Ch)
Shrike, loggerhead
Sparrow, chipping (At)
Sparrow, house
Sparrow, lark
Sparrow, Lincoln's (Jo)
Sparrow, rusty-crowned ground (Sa,Jo)
Sparrow, savannah (Sa)
Sparrow, stripe-headed
Stilt, black-necked
Swallow, bank (Jo)
Swallow, barn
Swallow, cliff (Tu)
Swallow, northern rough-winged
Swallow, tree
Tanager, western
Teal, blue-winged
Teal, cinnamon
Teal, green-winged
Tern, Caspian
Thrasher, curve-billed
Thrush, orange-billed nightingale (Jo)
Towhee, canyon
Tyrannulet, northern beardless (Sa,At)
Vireo, Cassin's (Sa,At)
Vireo, golden (Sa,At)
Vireo, Hutton's (Jo)
Vireo, plumbeous
Vireo, warbling (Av,Sa)
Vulture, black
Vulture, turkey
Warbler, black and white
Warbler, black-throated gray
Warbler, Colima (Jo)
Warbler, Lucy's (Jo)
Warbler, MacGillivray's (Jo,Sa)
Warbler, Nashville
Warbler, orange-crowned
Warbler, red-faced (Tr)
Warbler, rufous-capped (Sa)
Warbler, Virginia's
Warbler, Wilson's
Warbler, yellow (Ch)
Warbler, yellow-rumped
Whip-poor-will, Mexican (Jo)
Wigeon, American
Woodpecker, golden-fronted
Woodpecker, ladder-backed
Wren, Bewick's
Wren, canyon
Wren, house (Av)
Wren, Marsh
Wren, spotted
Yellowlegs, greater
Yellowthroat, common

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
Ja - Jamay
Jo - Jocotepec
La - La Cañada/Hidden Valley
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/San Luis Soyatlan
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: chapalabirders@yahoo.com or 376.766.1801. Check out the website: chapalabirders.org