Friday, August 12, 2022

Newsletter

Chapala Birders Newsletter, August 2, 2022
Sightings this Month

There were 105 species reported for the lake area in July. The complete list is shown at the end of this newsletter.

Interesting sightings;
  • Wood Storks have returned to Lake Cajititlan in even greater numbers than last year. The curious thing is that a month ago there were none. Where did they breed?
  • Twenty American White Pelicans were seen at Jocotepec at the beginning of July - these would have been first-year birds. But then for three weeks they disappeared from the lake and nearby reservoirs, only to reappear at the end of the month.

Book Donation from Tom Holman

Tom Holman, long time Ajijic resident, bird watcher and rock climber, has kindly donated two encyclopedic books to our birding group - The Encyclopedia of North American Birds and Audubon's Birds of America edited by Roger Tory Peterson. These came from Allen Turner and Judy Boyd who founded our current group as 'Las Audubonistas' fifteen years ago.

John has a small library of such books which may be borrowed or viewed at the Keeling's house.
Featured Bird: Inca dove
An Inca Dove. Note the scaly appearance of the back and wings. The tail is considered to be quite long for such a small dove. When it flies it reveals rufous coloring under the wings, and some white in the tail.
  • The Inca Dove is a common small ground-feeding bird that occurs from the Southern States down as far as Panama. It is non-migratory.
  • It forms flocks in deserts, scrub-land and urban environments.
  • The feathers of the wings and back have a dark outline giving a unique 'scaled' appearance.
  • They forage almost entirely for seeds, only occasionally eating fruit such as prickly pears.
  • The nest is a simple platform usually built on the fork of a tree using twigs, stems and leaves, by both the male and the female. Sometimes they will build on top of an old nest.
  • They share incubation duties for 15 days and feed the chicks for 15 days until they fly, and continue feeding them for another seven days.
John James Audubon - an Amazing Character
Audubon, (1785-1851) born Jean Jacques Rabin, spent his early years in the West Indies on a plantation on Santo Domingo with his father's 'second' family. After the death of his mother he was taken to his father's wife in France, where he was later adopted and legalized as Jean Jacques Audubon. He learned the violin, and to ride, fence and dance. During the Napoleonic wars, he was shipped off to a plantation outside Philadelphia, where he liked nothing better than going off into the woods, observing and drawing birds, later learning to shoot them and stuff them using wire frames to put them in interesting poses for painting. He adjusted his name to John James Audubon and married a neighboring plantation owner's daughter, Lucy.

His father was an enterprising man, naval officer, sometime pirate, business man and plantation owner who helped his son in business ventures such as developing a lead mine on the Philadelphia property. When that was not as successful as anticipated, the young John James went south with his wife operating general stores in partnership with his brother in law. He enjoyed some prosperous years, founding a flour mill, buying property and slaves. However, he ended in bankruptcy with prison time for non-payment of debts.

Lucy was the dependable breadwinner as a teacher and governess, while John James did portraits of patrons as well as hunting and fishing to feed his family. He took part-time jobs that allowed him to go exploring, collect more bird samples, and paint the birds. His dream was to paint all the birds in North America. It became an obsession. Sometimes he repainted his bird paintings, either to improve them or to replace them when the originals were eaten by rats. The images were known for their dramatic and life-like appearance.

By the time he was 41, he had over 300 paintings, but could not find a publisher in New York. He sailed to England where he was an overnight sensation. He played up the part of the frontier woodsman with buckskin clothing and shot gun. He became a super huckster. He pre-sold copies of his book, found a good engraver and the book was published in four volumes in 1827. It was a monumental work - "Birds of North America", illustrating 497 species on paper measuring 39 by 26 inches (990 by 660mm). Each illustration showed the bird life size. He also published the text to go with each plate, as well as smaller versions of the book, and a multivolume book on the mammals of North America. This last book was finished with the help of his two sons and the Reverend John Bachman.

For the last ten years of his life he had a large estate on the Hudson River. He died at the age of 66 in New York City, suffering from failing eyesight and an incapacitating stroke. He is remembered as a remarkable naturalist and artist.
Bird-walks and Trips
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. Note that we will limit car trips to four vehicles because larger convoys are hard to manage 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 $100 pesos for a half day outing, $200 pesos for a day trip).

On Friday August 19, we will meet at 8.00 am at the "Sculpture" (at the only traffic light in La Floresta, south west corner, opposite Restaurant Pranzo) and also at 8.15 am at the Pemex near the intersection of the Chapala-Guadalajara highway with the Libramiento, leaving immediately for the Lake Cajititlan Marsh (30 minutes drive). We expect to see a variety of marsh and lake birds such as Black-necked Stilt, and Whistling Ducks. There will be a break for snacking at 11.00 am. Expect to be back in Ajijic by 1.00 pm. You must reserve - email John at chapalabirders@yahoo.com at least 2 days ahead saying if you are bringing a vehicle and can take others, or whether you are looking for a ride.

On Tuesday August 30, we will meet at 8.00 am at the "Sculpture" (at the only traffic light in La Floresta, south side near Restaurant Pranzo), leaving immediately for the Sierra de Tapalpa (90 minutes away). We will bird from 9.30 till 12.30. 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. At 1.00 pm We will have lunch at a restaurant on the square in Tapalpa. Expect to be back about 4.00 pm. You must reserve - email John at chapalabirders@yahoo.com at least 2 days ahead indicating that you can bring a vehicle and can take others, or you would like to be a passenger. (We don't always have enough cars).
Birdwalk & Trip Reports
On July 8, we traveled with a group of eight to the Rosa Amarilla Loop on the plateau above the south side of the lake. It rained all the way going there, but the weather cleared when we started birding. We manage to spot 47 species including Spotted Wren, Bushtit, Crested Caracara, White-faced Ibis, Wood Stork, Pied-billed Grebe and Least Grebe.

On July 19 seventeen birders came out to go round the Cristiania Park in Chapala - excellent attendance for the time of the year! The list included Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Mexican Duck Tropical Kingbird and the following species nesting in the trees: Tricolored Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret and Cattle Egret.
Monthly Sightings List
Here are the 105 species sighted around Lake Chapala in July:

Ani, groove-billed
Bittern, least (Rp)
Blackbird, red-winged (Ra)
Blackbird, yellow-headed (Ca)
Bobwhite, northern (Ca,Rp)
Bushtit
Caracara, crested (Ca)
Coot, American
Cormorant, neotropic
Cowbird, bronzed
Cuckoo, squirrel (Sa)
Dove, common ground
Dove, Eurasian collared
Dove, Inca
Dove, mourning (Ca)
Dove, white-tipped
Duck, black-bellied whistling
Duck, fulvous whistling
Duck, Mexican
Egret, cattle
Egret, great
Egret, snowy
Elaenia, greenish (Rp)
Euphonia, elegant (Ps)
Finch, house
Flycatcher, dusky-capped (Cv)
Flycatcher, gray silky
Flycatcher, Nutting's (Sa)
Flycatcher, social
Flycatcher, vermilion
Gallinule, common
Goldfinch, lesser
Grackle, great-tailed
Grassquit, blue-black (Ca)
Grebe, least
Grebe, pied-billed
Grosbeak, blue
Gull, laughing
Gull, ring-billed
Hawk, Cooper's
Hawk, red-tailed
Hawk, sharp-shinned
Hawk, white-tailed (Oc)
Heron, black-crowned night
Heron, great blue
Heron, tri-colored
Hummingbird, berylline
Hummingbird, broad-billed
Hummingbird, Rivoli's (Sc)
Hummingbird, sparkling-tailed (Sc,Av)
Hummingbird, violet-crowned
Ibis, white-faced
Jacana, northern
Kestrel, American
Killdeer
Kingbird, Cassin's
Kingbird, thick-billed (Rp)
Kingbird, tropical
Kiskadee, great
Meadowlark, eastern (Ra)
Mockingbird, blue
Mockingbird, northern (Ra)
Motmot, russet-crowned
Oriole, black-backed
Oriole, black-vented
Oriole, orchard
Oriole, streak-backed
Owl, ferruginous pygmy (Rp)
Parakeet, monk
Pelican, American white (Jo)
Pewee, greater (Sa)
Pewee, western wood
Phoebe, black
Pigeon, rock
Raven, common
Robin, rufous-backed
Seedeater, cinnamon-rumped
Shrike, loggerhead
Solitaire, brown-backed (Rp)
Sparrow, Botteri's (Ra)
Sparrow, house
Sparrow, rusty-crowned ground
Sparrow, stripe-headed
Stilt, black-necked
Stork, wood (Ca)
Swallow, barn
Swallow, northern rough-winged
Tern, Caspian
Thrasher, curve-billed
Thrush, orange-billed nightingale
Towhee, canyon
Tyrannulet, northern beardless
Vireo, golden
Vulture, black
Vulture, turkey
Warbler, rufous-capped
Warbler, yellow
Woodpecker, golden-fronted
Woodpecker, ladder-backed
Wren, Bewick's
Wren, canyon
Wren, happy
Wren, Sinaloa (Ps)
Wren, spotted
Yellowthroat, common (Ca)
Sighting Location codes:

Ac - Ajijic: La Cristina / El Bajio
At - Trails above Ajijic
Av - Ajijic village
Ca - Lake Cajititlan & marsh
Ch - Chapala
Ct - Caracol Trail / Int'l School
Cv - Cerro Viejo
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
Oc - Ocotlan
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 - Potrerillos / Las Trojes / Chupinaya
Tu - Tuxcueca / San Luis Soyatlan
Xt - Ixtlahuacan / Las Campanillas



What is the "Lake Chapala Area"?
We define it as the whole area of the lake plus all land within 15km (or 7 miles) of the edge of the lake.
Lake Chapala Birders is an informal group of bird observers led by John and Rosemary Keeling.

Illustrated color folders showing our common birds are once again available for $200 pesos at Diane Pearl's Gallery, 11 am to 4 pm, Santa Margarita #23, at the east end of Riberas del Pilar.

We like to hear of bird sightings at: chapalabirders@yahoo.com.

Check our website: ChapalaBirders.org
There you will find our newsletters, illustrations of our birds and advice on buying binoculars, books and birding apps.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Newsletter

Chapala Birders Newsletter, July 2, 2022
Sightings this Month

There were 93 species reported for the lake area in April. The complete list is shown at the end of this newsletter.

We have reached the time of year when most of the resident birds have completed the first nesting cycle and the young have fledged. The visiting Sparkling-tailed Hummingbirds are still being seen on the Lakeshore, but they will soon return to their regular territories.

We are getting more frequent reports of African Love Birds being seen in Chapala and Ajijic. These are cage escapes. They are tiny parrots which are common as pets with green body and orange and yellow head and neck. They are all originally from Africa and are famous for their affectionate, monogamous pair bonding. Feral populations (wild birds derived from escapes) can now be found in the southern U.S, and southern Australia.
Featured Bird: Curve-billed Thrasher
A Curve-billed Thrasher showing the yellow-orange eye and the curved bill.
  • The Curve-billed Thrasher is a non-migratory native of Mexico and the southern U.S.
  • It is adapted to desert and dry scrub land, and is also found in suburbs in such areas.
  • It generally feeds on the ground, being potentially omnivorous. It usually consumes insects, beetles, snails and fruit.
  • It has a 'rib-it' call, and sings beautifully in the spring. A member of the mimid family, it will mimic other bird's songs, and is imitated by other mimids such as the Northern Mockingbird and the Blue Mocking bird.
  • Where possible it will nest in a cactus plant. Both sexes share in nest building, incubation and feeding of the chicks.
A Complexity of Godwits
Godwits are wading birds with long legs and long bills adapted to dip into mud and sense moving things like worms and moluscs. Four hundred years ago when such birds existed by the million, they were considered a delicacy in Great Britain, being naturally fattened up for migration.

They are part of the 70 bird species that migrate every year between the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere.

In the spring the Godwits go to the far north of Alaska and Asia to make nests in pairs. The chicks can run and feed only two hours after hatching. Even so more than half of the chicks are eaten by predators before the summer is out. The surviving birds fly south to tidal mud flats in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

There are four species:
Bar-tailed Godwit (Alaska, Europe, Australia, New Zealand,)
Black-tailed Godwit (Europe, India, Thiland, Australia)
Hudsonian Godwit (Alaska, United States, South America)
Marbled Godwit (Alaska, United States, Central America)

Generally they have stopping points on their migration route, One species, the Bar-tailed Godwit has the choice of increasing its flying time by stopping off in China, or flying directly south across the center of the Pacific Ocean to New Zealand. Last year one bird was tracked leaving leaving Alaska in September and arriving near Aukland, New Zealand 11 days later. It had flown 13,000km (8,100 mi.) non-stop.

In order to accomplish this they metamorphose into a different beast in the two months before flying south. The flying muscles, lungs and heart double in size. They double their weight with a load of fat as fuel, which is used to provide energy very efficiently, producing carbon dioxide and water. At the same time they shrink their kidneys, liver and guts.

While flying, one side of the brain is able to shut down for sleep, as in whales. Where they really excel is with powers that no mammals are capable of. They can sense where they are on the planet, which direction they need to fly, what weather systems are in front of them, and what that implies in terms of winds.

As with a majority of birds, populations are declining. We know many of the threats. For example, we know that due to Global Warming, the Hudsonian Godwits nesting in Manitoba are finding that the peak of the insect food supply is already declining when the chicks hatch. We know that a preferred wintering area of these birds is on the coast of the island of Chiloé in Chile, which is becoming increasingly developed for tourism and industry.
Bird-walks and Trips
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. Note that we will limit car trips to four vehicles because larger convoys are hard to manage 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 $100 pesos for a half day outing, $200 pesos for a day trip).

On Friday July 8, we will meet at 8.00 am at the "Sculpture" (at the only traffic light in La Floresta, south-east corner, near Restaurant Pranzo), leaving immediately for the Rosa Amarilla Loop (60 minutes drive). Expect to see a variety of grassland birds and possibly a White-tailed Hawk. Bring refreshments for the morning and sandwiches for the 12.30 lunch stop. We will be back about 3.00 pm. You must reserve - email John at chapalabirders@yahoo.com at least 2 days ahead indicating that you can bring a vehicle or you would like to be a passenger. (We do not always have enough cars.)

On Tuesday July 19, we will meet at 8.15 am at the entrance to Cristiania Park in Chapala. We should see an interesting selection of species in the park and on the shore of the lake. At about 10.00 we will go to 'La Palapa de Don Juan' for breakfast and complete the bird list.
How to Get There: From Ajijic go to the traffic light at the main street of Chapala (Av. Madero), cross straight over and keep going straight for five blocks, turn left at the T intersection and park on the right, near the Park entrance.
Birdwalk & Trip Reports
On June 15, we had five keen birders out at Hacienda La Cristina on the west side of Ajijic. It was a windy day so the species count reached a disappointing twenty one species. These included Killdeer, White-winged Dove, Black-crownned Night Heron, Bewick's Wren and Rufous-backed Robin.

On June 24, seven people went out to Lake Cajititlan managing to see 48 species, which is a good count for this time of year. We saw Tri-colored Heron, Fulvous-whistling Duck, Black-bellied Wistling Duck, Spotted Wren, Loggerhead Shrike, Black-backed Oriole and Wood Stork.
Monthly Sightings List
Here are the 93 species sighted around Lake Chapala in June:

Ani, groove-billed
Avocet, American (Sn)
Bittern, least (Rp)
Bobwhite, northern (Ca)
Bushtit
Caracara, crested
Coot, American
Cormorant, neotropic
Cowbird, bronzed
Cowbird, brown-headed
Cuckoo, squirrel (Sa,Av)
Dove, Eurasian collared
Dove, Inca
Dove, white-tipped
Dove, white-winged
Duck, black-bellied whistling (Ca,Rp)
Duck, fulvous whistling (Ca,Rp)
Duck, Mexican
Egret, cattle
Egret, great
Egret, snowy
Euphonia, elegant (Sa)
Finch, house
Flycatcher, ash-throated (Sa)
Flycatcher, dusky-capped
Flycatcher, gray silky (Sa)
Flycatcher, social
Flycatcher, vermilion
Gallinule, common
Goldfinch, lesser
Grackle, great-tailed
Grebe, least
Grebe, pied-billed
Grosbeak, black-headed
Grosbeak, blue
Gull, laughing (Rp)
Gull, ring-billed (Sa)
Hawk, red-tailed (Sa)
Heron, black-crowned night
Heron, great blue
Heron, tri-colored (Ca)
Hummingbird, berylline
Hummingbird, broad-billed
Hummingbird, sparkling-tailed (Sc,Av)
Hummingbird, violet-crowned
Hummingbird, white-eared (Sc)
Ibis, white-faced
Jacana, northern
Killdeer
Kingbird, Cassin's
Kingbird, thick-billed
Kingbird, tropical
Kiskadee, great
Mockingbird, blue
Motmot, russet-crowned (Sa,Av)
Oriole, black-backed
Oriole, black-vented
Oriole, streak-backed
Osprey (Rp)
Owl, ferruginous pygmy (Rp,Av)
Parakeet, monk
Pelican, American white (Rp,Jo)
Pewee, greater
Pewee, western wood
Pigeon, rock
Roadrunner, lesser (Sa)
Robin, rufous-backed
Seedeater, cinnamon-rumped
Shrike, loggerhead
Sparrow, house
Sparrow, rusty-crowned ground (Rp)
Sparrow, stripe-headed
Stilt, black-necked
Stork, wood
Swallow, barn
Swallow, cliff
Swallow, northern rough-winged
Tern, Caspian
Thrasher, curve-billed
Thrush, orange-billed nightingale (Sa)
Towhee, canyon
Tyrannulet, northern beardless
Vireo, golden (Sa)
Vulture, black
Warbler, rufous-capped (Av0
Warbler, yellow
Woodpecker, golden-fronted
Woodpecker, ladder-backed
Wren, Bewick's
Wren, canyon
Wren, happy (Sa)
Wren, spotted
Yellowthroat, gray-crowned (Ch)
Sighting Location codes:

Ac - Ajijic: La Cristina / El Bajio
At - Trails above Ajijic
Av - Ajijic village
Ca - Lake Cajititlan & marsh
Ch - Chapala
Ct - Caracol Trail / Int'l School
Cv - Cerro Viejo
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
Oc - Ocotlan
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 - Potrerillos / Las Trojes / Chupinaya
Tu - Tuxcueca / San Luis Soyatlan
Xt - Ixtlahuacan / Las Campanillas



What is the "Lake Chapala Area"?
We define it as the whole area of the lake plus all land within 15km (or 7 miles) of the edge of the lake.
Lake Chapala Birders is an informal group of bird observers led by John and Rosemary Keeling.

Illustrated color folders showing our common birds are available for $200 pesos at Diane Pearl's Gallery, 11 am to 4 pm, Santa Margarita #23, in Riberas del Pilar.

We like to hear of bird sightings at: chapalabirders@yahoo.com.

Check our website: ChapalaBirders.org