Saturday, August 3, 2019


Chapala Birders Newsletter August 2, 2019
    103 Species sighted last month around the Lake
The complete list of species for last month is shown at the end of this newsletter.

The summer is the period when John and Rosemary feel a greater pressure to go birding to maintain a good-looking monthly list, as compared with the winter when they we joined by more birders from up north and there are fifty percent more species. There are three areas we try to visit every month because the birding is so good - the Cajititlan Marsh, the Rosa Amarilla Loop, and the Dike at the east end of the lake.
Interesting sightings last month:
  • Lesser Roadrunners were sighted by the group on the Rosa Amarilla Loop.
  • John saw an unusual Sulphur-bellied Fycatcher at his condominium.
  • Uncommon Blue-Black Grassquits were seen at Concepcion and at the Dike.
  • John and Rosemary sighted some early migrants - Wilson's Phalaropes at Villa Corona, and Forster's Tern at the Lake Chapala Dike.
  • A group visiting Concepcion de Buenos Aires in the center of Sierra del Tigre saw a Red-headed Tanager which is rare this far from the Jalisco coast.

Remember mid-July to mid-September is 'chigger season' - be sure to use insect repellent on your lower legs. These tiny insects jump from tall wet grass to your legs and travel upwards under your pant legs. The bites leave welts which you will feel the following day.
Blue-black Grassquit
  Blue-black Grassquit photo by Mexican bird photographer Raul Padilla

Blue Black Grassquits are very small finches that are found from central Mexico all the way down to Brazil:
-   Though the DNA shows a close relationship with tanagers, these birds are similar to Indigo Buntings in their feather coloring - the males are only blue in the summer breeding season and spend the winter looking as if they are moulting, with mixed brown and blue patches; while the females are chestnut brown year-round, with obvious breast streaking similar to the larger female House Finches. 
-  This species is renowned for the male display routine. In the spring and summer breeding season a small black bird may be seen perching on a twig, suddenly jumping up two feet in the air and coming straight back down to the same perch, repeating this several times a minute.  
-  They tend to fly in flocks in the winter time. 
-  They are not long distance migrants, but may move to lower altitudes for the winter.
-  Like finches and buntings, they eat seeds and occasionally berries, but feed insects to their young.
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. Please note that we will try to limit day trip sizes to four vehicles because larger convoys are less manageable when trying to stop on country roads to look at the birds. If you are being given a ride, we suggest you make a contribution to your driver for gas and tolls (perhaps 50-100 pesos for a half day outing, 150-200 for a day trip).
On Monday August 12, we will meet at 8.00 am at El Bajio, on the west side of Ajijic. 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 Fonda Dona Lola's 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 multiple speed bumps. Park immediately on the lateral.

On Wednesday August 28, we will meet at 8.00 am to carpool at Donas Donuts leaving immediately for the Cajititlan Marsh (30 minutes drive). We expect to see a variety of marsh and lake birds such as Black-necked Stilt, Snowy Egret, and perhaps a Wood Stork. At about 10.15 we will go Las Delicias restaurant in Chapala for breakfast and complete the bird list. If you plan on going, email John: at least 48 hours ahead of time indicating whether or not you will have a car. (We don't always have enough cars).
Bird Walk and Trip Reports
On July 10, thirteen people turned out to explore the lakeshore road east of the Old Train Station as far as the Pumping Station. We sighted 55 species including Pied-billed Grebe, Blue Mockingbird, Caspian Tern, Fulvous Whistling Duck, Loggerhead Shrike, and a Crested Caracara being actively pestered by a Northern Mockingbird.

On July 22, we had two carloads of birders at the Rosa Amarilla Loop on the plateau above the south side of the lake. We saw Botteri's Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Raven, Lesser Roadrunner, and Gray-crowned Yellowthroat for a total of 41 species.

Monthly Sightings List
Here are the species sighted around Lake Chapala in July:

Ani, groove-billed
Avocet, American (Ch)
Blackbird, red-winged (Ca,Ra)
Blackbird, yellow-headed (Dp)
Bobwhite, northern (Ca,Ch)
Cara, crested (Ca,Ch)
Coot, American
Cormorant, neotropic
Cowbird, bronzed (At)
Cowbird, brown-headed (Dp)
Cuckoo, squirrel (At,Sa)
Dove, common ground
Dove, Eurasian  collared
Dove, Inca
Dove, mourning (Dp)
Dove, white-tipped
Dove, white-winged
Duck, black-bellied whistling (Ca,Dm)
Duck, fulvous whistling (Ca,Dm)
Duck, Mexican
Egret, cattle
Egret, great
Egret, snowy
Elaenia, greenish
Finch, house
Flycatcher, cordilleran (Sa)
Flycatcher, dusky-capped
Flycatcher, gray silky
Flycatcher, social
Flycatcher, sulphur-bellied
Flycatcher, vermilion
Gallinule, common
Goldfinch, lesser
Grackle, great-tailed
Grassquit, blue-black
Grebe, Clark's (Sa)
Grebe, least (Dp)
Grebe, pied-billed (Dp,Ra)
Grosbeak, blue
Gull, laughing (Dp)
Gull, ring-billed (Dp)
Hawk, Cooper's (Ra)
Heron, black-crowned night
Heron, great blue
Heron, green
Heron, little blue
Heron, tricolored
Hummingbird, beryline
Hummingbird, broad-billed
Hummingbird, violet-crowned
Ibis, white-faced
Jacana, northern
Kingbird, Cassin's
Kingbird, thick-billed
Kingbird, tropical
Kiskadee, great
Kite, white-tailed (Dp,Ca)
Meadowlark, eastern
Mockingbird, blue
Mockingbird, northern
Motmot, russet-crowned
Oriole, black-backed
Oriole, black-vented
Oriole, streak-backed
Osprey (Ca)
Parakeet, monk
Pelican, American white
Pewee, western wood
Pigeon, rock
Raven, common
Roadrunner, lesser (Ra)
Robin, rufous-backed
Sandpiper, spotted (Dp)
Seedeater, cinnamon-rumped
Shrike, loggerhead (Dp)
Sparrow, Botteri's (Ra)
Sparrow, house
Sparrow, rusty-crowned ground
Sparrow, stripe-headed
Spoonbill, roseate (Dp,Ca)
Stilt, black-necked
Stork, wood (Dp,Ca)
Swallow, barn
Swallow, cliff (Dp)
Swallow, northern rough-winged
Tern, Caspian (Dp)
Tern, Forster's (Dp)
Thrasher, curve-billed
Thrush, orange-billed nightingale
Towhee, canyon
Tyrannulet, northern beardless (Sa,At)
Vireo, golden (Sa,At)
Vulture, black
Vulture, turkey
Woodpecker, golden-fronted
Woodpecker, ladder-backed
Wren, Bewick's
Wren, canyon
Wren, happy (Sa)
Wren, spotted
Yellowthroat, common (Ca)
Yellowthroat, gray-crowned (Ra)

Location codes:
Ac - Ajijic: La Cristina/El Bajio
At - Trails above Ajijic
Av - Ajijic village
Ca - Lake Cajititlan & marsh
Ch - Chapala
Cu - Cuitzeo/Ocotlan
Dm - Dike: Jamay to Malteraña
Dp - Dike: Maltaraña to 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:

A laminated folder "Quick Guide to the Birds of Lake Chapala" illustrating 150 local species can be purchased for $150 pesos at Diane Pearl Collecciones, Colon #1, in the center of Ajijic. This is especially useful to newcomers - it is produced by "Defenders of Wildlife" which works to protect imperiled species throughout North America.