Friday, August 3, 2018

Birding Newsletter

Chapala Birders Newsletter August 2, 2018
93 Species Sighted Last Month 
The complete list of species seen around Lake Chapala is shown at the end of the newsletter.
 In July we have been impressed by the number of Happy Wrens we are encountering in the countryside, now that we have learned the song. They are currently very common on the Allen Lloyd Trail for instance. Like the Sinaloa Wren, which we are also seeing more of, both are great at hiding, and both have loud calls reminiscent of the Blue Mockingbird.

Recently we visited Villa Corona on Lake Atotonilco. We were surprised to see thousands of American Avocets and Black-necked stilts, as well as extra numbers of Roseate Spoonbills. Our first bird trip this month will go to this site.

Unusual species this month were Northern Flicker sighted by Darnelle and Stan Dunn, and Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher seen by John Keeling, both in Ajijic.

Latest Species Name Changes
Every August we receive the species updates of the American Ornithological Society. This year the White-collared Seedeater becomes the Cinnamon-rumped Seedeater. As usual, many changes have been made to the species order in the taxonomic sequence.
  White-throated Flycatcher
White-throated Flycatcher photo taken by visiting birder Jules Evens last month beside a marshy field near Concepcion de Buenos Aires.

Species details:

-  A small flycatcher with an overall green-brown olive color; buffy brown wingbars, buffy white throat, lemony belly and a thin eye-ring.
-  It is an uncommon bird found irregularly from northern Mexico to Panama. The distribution is said to be 'highly local'.
-  An 'altitudinal migrant', it winters in reed-beds (we see it at the reed-beds of Lake Chapala and Lake Cajititlan at 5.000 ft. in December and January) and it breeds at higher altitudes on wet fields and farm land near water (we see it on damp fields at Concepcion de Buenos Aires at 7,000 ft. in the summer).
Upcoming Trips and Bird Walks
Our bird walks are open to all those interested in birds, both beginners and experienced birders. Just bring binoculars. 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 Monday August 6, 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 mid-morning refreshments. There is no breakfast or lunch stop. We will be back in Ajijic by about 1.00 pm. If you plan on going, please email John at at least 48 hours ahead of time saying whether you will bring a vehicle, to help in carpool planning.  (We don't always have enough cars).

On Friday August 17, we will meet at 8.00 am at Donas Donuts to car pool, proceeding immediately to the Rosa Amarilla Loop on the plateau above the south side of the lake (60 minute 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 at least 48 hours ahead of time saying whether you can bring a vehicle, to help in carpool planning.
Top Bird Apps for West Mexico
Bird Apps for your smart phone are getting so good you almost don't need a field guide.  All three Apps below use real photos; include range maps and bird calls; offer extra downloadable data packs for Mexico; all work offline so you don't depend on an internet connection, and all are free for Android and IOS from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.

Audubon Birds
This is easy to use, has a good search function to look for likely species, and offers several photos and calls for each species. It also suggests similar species. The App was recently rewritten for improved ease of use, so it is smooth and professional.

Allows browsing of all species with search capability; good maps and a good selection of songs and calls. For beginners, it has a series of ID questions that leads to suggested species. You can upload a bird photo you have just taken for suggested ID. This was developed by the Cornell Lab, and requires you to have an eBird account (easy to obtain) before downloading.

Aves de Chapala
This has photos, calls and ranges for an impressive 285 species seen around lake Chapala. Currently available only in the Spanish language version. The English version is expected later this year.

So long as your smart phone has spare memory, you should really download all three apps. Just as it is better to ID a new bird from more than just one field guide, so now you should probably ID a new bird using more than one phone App.
Bird Walk & Trip Reports
On July 13, we had a group of 11 birders visiting the Agua Escondida dam and the upper and lower Santa Cruz dams. We managed to spot 45 species including Northern Jacana, Blue Mockingbird, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Fulvous Whistling Duck, and Sinaloa Wren.

On July 26, we were joined by 16 people going to the Cajititlan Lake and Marsh. We saw Wood Stork, Spotted Sandpiper, Common Yellowthroat, Northern Bobwhite, Bushtit, and American Avocet, out of a total of 38 species.
Monthly Sightings List
Here are the 93 species sighted around Lake Chapala in July:

Ani, groove-billed
Avocet, American (Ca)
Blackbird, yellow-headed (Ca)
Bluebird, eastern (Ra)
Bobwhite, northern (Ca)
Caracara, crested (Xt,Ca)
Chat, yellow-breasted ((Tu)
Coot, American
Cormorant, neotropic
Cowbird, bronzed
Cuckoo, squirrel
Dove, common ground (Tu)
Dove, Eurasian collared
Dove, Inca
Dove, white-tipped
Duck, black-bellied whistling (Xt)
Duck, fulvous whistling (Xt)
Duck, Mexican
Duck, ruddy (Xt)
Egret, cattle
Egret, great
Egret, snowy
Finch, house
Flicker, northern (Av)
Flycatcher, dusky-capped
Flycatcher, gray silky
Flycatcher, Nutting's (Sa)
Flycatcher, social
Flycatcher, sulphur-bellied (Av)
Flycatcher, vermilion
Gallinule, common
Gallinule, purple (Sa)
Goldfinch, lesser
Grackle, great-tailed
Grebe, pied-billed
Grosbeak, black-headed
Grosbeak, blue
Hawk, Cooper's (Ps)
Heron, black-crowned night
Heron, green
Heron, tri-colored (Sa)
Hummingbird, berylline
Hummingbird, broad-billed
Hummingbird, violet-crowned
Ibis, white-faced
Jacana, northern
Killdeer (Ca)
Kingbird, Cassin's
Kingbird, thick-billed
Kingbird, tropical
Kiskadee, great
Mockingbird, blue
Motmot, russet-crowned
Nightjar, buff-collared
Oriole, black-backed (Sa)
Oriole, black-vented
Oriole, streak-backed
Owl, great horned (Sc)
Parakeet, monk
Pewee, western wood
Pigeon, rock
Raven, common
Roadrunner, greater (Sa)
Robin, rufous-backed
Sandpiper, spotted
Seedeater, white-collared
Shrike, loggerhead
Sparrow, Botteri's (Tu)
Sparrow, house
Sparrow, rusty-crowned ground
Sparrow, stripe-headed
Stork, wood (Ca)
Swallow, barn
Swallow, cliff
Swallow, northern rough-winged
Thrasher, curve-billed
Thrush, orange-billed nightingale
Towhee, canyon
Tyrannulet, northern beardless
Vireo, golden
Vulture, black
Vulture, turkey (Ra,Xt)
Warbler, rufous-capped (Sa)
Woodpecker, golden-fronted
Woodpecker, ladder-backed
Wren, Bewick's
Wren, canyon
Wren, happy (Sa)
Wren, Sinaloa (Ca,Ps)
Wren, spotted
Yellowthroat, common
Yellowthroat, gray-crowned

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
La - La Cañada-Hidden Valley
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/Allen Lloyd Trail
Sc - San Juan Cosala
Sn - San Nicholas/Golf Club
Tz - Tizapan canyon
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: or 376.766.1801. Check out the website: Laminated bird folders illustrating 150 local species can be purchased for $150 pesos at Diane Pearl Collecciones, Colon #1, in Ajijic.