Saturday, January 2, 2021


Chapala Birders Newsletter, January 2, 2021
174 Species Seen in December
The complete list appears at the end of this newsletter. Highlights this month include:
  • Four new species for the Lake Chapala area - a quite extraordinary happening - see section below.
  • Jules Evens saw a Black-chinned Hummingbird at his feeders in San Antonio Tlayacapan.
  • Nicola Cendron spotted a Long-billed Curlew on the dike during the Christmas Bird Count.
  • We went to the mountain above Mazamitla during the month and were amazed to see the fields and pine trees full of Pine Siskins (similar to female House Fiches, but with hints of yellow). It turns out that we are seeing the "biggest Pine Siskin irruption on record". Because pine cone seeds are in short supply in Canadian forests this winter, these birds are traveling way south for food.
Other notes from the month:
  • It wasn't easy putting together several small teams for the Christmas Bird Count while lacking some of our regular leaders, but with last-minutes appeals to friends and visitors, we did it.
  • We have decided to re-start our monthly birdwalks with small groups, masks and social distancing - see details below.
Four New Species for our Area
All of these new species were sighted by Nicola Cendron during our two Christmas Bird Counts:
  1. Rufous-capped Brushfinch on the Caracol Trail. This is a higher altitude bird which we normally see on the Sierra del Tigre at Concepción de Buenos Aires.
  2. Aztec Thrush on the Caracol Trail. This is an unusual, irruptive Mexican species.
  3. Olive Warbler, on the Caracol Trail. This is another species that we sometimes see at Concepción, two thousand feet above the lake.
  4. Swainson's Hawk (3 individuals) on the Dike at the east end of the lake. They were circling above a fire set to clear reeds for plowing a newly dried-up part of the lake. We believe they were looking to catch small animals escaping from the fire.
Christmas Bird Count Results
We fielded five small teams for the Ajijic area CBC on December 15. and just one team for the Dike area CBC on December 17.

In the Ajijic Circle we counted 9,462 birds of 128 species, and in the Dike circle 26,134 birds of 91 species. Combining the results, we saw 150 species. Once again we sent one team to hike to the top of the mountain. That team was unusually productive of new species.

We have looked closely at the results for each species, and once again we are unable to perceive any particular trends in the data for the last 15 years.
Featured Bird: Aztec Thrush
Male Aztec Thrush
  • The Aztec Thrush is an uncommon Mexican endemic species almost the size of an American Robin found in higher-altitude pine-oak forests of the Sierra Madre and Central Volcanic Belt. It is irruptive, moving in search of berries.
  • It is typically seen on the ground like other thrushes, often in small flocks. It is known to spend long periods sitting quite still and thus can be easily missed.
  • It eats insects on the forest floor but is particularly fond of berries when available.
  • The nest is a cup of grass and moss placed in the upper levels of trees. Both parents feed the hatchlings.
Bird-walks and Trips
We are proposing to start holding birdwalks again, but we will not go for breakfast at the end of each walk. Maximum attendance will be ten people. You must reserve a space by email at least 48 hours ahead of each birdwalk.

On Tuesday January 12, 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 trees and on the shore of the lake. We will bird for about two hours. Wear face masks and practice social distancing. Reserve by email.
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.

On Friday January 21, we will meet at 8.15 a.m. at La Cristina on the west side of Ajijic. We will see some shore birds and some birds in the tall trees along the street. We will bird for about two hours. Wear face masks and practice social distancing. Reserve by email.
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 Tuesday January 26, 8.30 am we will hold a birdwalk for people living in or near the Racquet Club. The meeting place and birding locations will be based on suggestions from those who want to attend. Please reserve by email with your suggestions. Face masks and social distancing will apply.

On Thursday January 28, 8.30 am we will hold a birdwalk for people living in or near Vista del Lago. The meeting place and birding locations will be based on suggestions from those who want to attend. Please reserve by email with your suggestions. Face masks and social distancing will apply.
Monthly Sightings List
Here are the 174 species sighted around Lake Chapala in November:
Ani, groove-billed
Avocet, American (Dp)
Becard, rose-throated (Xt)
Bittern, least (Ps)
Blackbird, yellow-headed
Brushfinch, rufous-capped (Ct)
Bunting, indigo (Av)
Bunting, lazuli (Sc)
Bunting, painted (Xt)
Bunting, varied
Caracara, crested
Chat, yellow-breasted
Coot, American
Cormorant, neotropic
Cowbird, bronzed
Cowbird, brown-headed
Cuckoo, squirrel (Xt)
Curlew, ling-billed
Dove, common ground
dove, Eurasian collared
Dove, Inca
Dove, mourning
Dove, white-tipped
Dove, white-winged
Dowitcher, long-billed (Dp)
Duck, Mexican
Duck, ruddy
Egret, cattle
Egret, great
Egret, snowy
Elaenia, greenish (Ct)
Euphonia, elegant (Xt)
Falcon, peregrine
Finch, house
Flycatcher, ash-throated
Flycatcher, dusky-capped
Flycatcher, gray silky
Flycatcher, Hammond's
Flycatcher, social
Flycatcher, vermilion
Gadwall (Ch)
Gallinule, common
Gallinule, purple (Dp
Gnatcatcher, blue-gray
Goldfinch, lesser
Grackle, great-tailed
Grebe, eared (Ps)
Grebe, least
Grebe, pied-billed
Grosbeak, black-headed
Grosbeak, blue
Gull, ring-billed
Harrier, northern (Dp)
Hawk, Cooper's
Hawk, gray
Hawk, red-tailed
Hawk, Swainson's (Dp)
Heron, Black-crowned night
Heron, great blue
Heron, green
Heron, little blue
Heron, tri-colored
Hummingbird, berylline
Hummingbird, black-chinned (Sa)
Hummingbird, broad-billed
Hummingbird, violet-crowned
Hummingbird, white-eared (Ct)
Ibis, white-faced
Jacana, northern
Kestrel, American
Kingbird, Cassin's
Kingbird, thick-billed
Kingbird, tropical
Kingfisher, belted (Ca)
Kinglet, ruby-crowned
Kiskadee, great
Kite, white-tailed
Mockingbird, blue
Mockingbird, northern
Motmot, russet-crowned (Ac)
Nighthawk, lesser (Ps)
Oriole, black-backed
Oriole, black-vented
Oriole, Bullock's
Oriole, hooded
Oriole, streak-backed
Osprey (Jo,Ch)
Owl, great-horned
Parakeet, monk
Pelican, American white
Pewee, greater
Phoebe, black (Dp)
Phoebe, eastern (Dp)
Phoebe, Say's (Dp)
Pigeon, rock
Pintail, northern
Raven, common
Redstart, American (Ct)
Redstart, painted (Ct)
Robin, American (Ct)
Robin, rufous-backed
Sandpiper, least
Sandpiper, spotted
Sandpiper, stilt (Dp)
Sapsucker, yellow-bellied (Ct)
Seedeater, cinnamon-rumped
Shoveler, northern
Shrike, loggerhead
Siskin, pine (Ch)
Snipe, Wilson's (Oc)
Solitaire, brown-backed
Sparrow, clay-colored
Sparrow, house
Sparrow, lark
Sparrow, Lincoln's
Sparrow, rusty-crowned ground
Sparrow, stripe-headed
Sparrow, white-crowned
Spoonbill, roseate (Ps)
Stilt, black-necked
Swallow, barn
Swallow, northern rough-winged
Swallow, tree
Swallow, violet-green
Tanager, hepatic
Tanager, summer
Tanager, western
Teal, blue-winged
Teal, cinnamon
Teal green-winged
Tern, Caspian
Tern, Forster's
Thrasher, curve-billed
Thrush, Aztec (Ct)
Thrush, hermit (Ct)
Thrush, orange-billed nightingale
Towhee, canyon
Towhee, green-tailed (Sc)
Tyrannulet, northern beardless
Violetear, Mexican
Vireo, Cassin's
Vireo, Hutton's
Vulture, black
Vulture, turkey
Warbler, black and white
Warbler, black-throated gray
Warbler, hermit
Warbler, Lucy's (Jo)
Warbler, MacGillivray's
Warbler, Nashville
Warbler, olive (Ct)
Warbler, orange-crowned
Warbler, red-faced (Ct)
Warbler, rufous-capped
Warbler, Townsend's (Ct)
Warbler, Virginia's (Sc)
Warbler, Wilson's
Warbler, yellow
Warbler, yellow-rumped
Waterthrush, northern (Dp)
Woodpecker, acorn (Ct)
Woodpecker, golden-fronted
Woodpecker, ladder-backed
Wren, Bewick's
Wren, canyon
Wren, happy (Ct)
Wren, house (Ct)
Wren, marsh
Wren, spotted
Yellowlegs, greater
Yellowthroat, common
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
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 - 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.

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