Saturday, September 3, 2022


Chapala Birders Newsletter, September 2, 2022
Sightings this Month

There were 115 species reported for the lake area in August. The complete list is shown at the end of this newsletter.

Interesting sightings last month:

  • An Upland Sandpiper was sighted by Nicola Cendron in the Chapala area.
  • A Royal Tern was observed by Kate and Carl Anderson at Jocotepec.
  • White-throated Swift and Elegant Trogon were identifed by Noe Munoz-Padilla on the Chupinaya Trail above Las Trojes.

Lake Chapala List reaches 351 species

Fourteen years ago there were 265 species on the Lake Chapala List. We have gradually grown the list which has now reached 351 species. Surely a landmark worth celebrating!

The latest additions in August are the Royal Tern and the Upland Sandpiper.

The Royal Tern was sighted by the Andersons on the shore at Jocotepec. This tern occurs on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of Mexico. It breeds primarily on the Atlantic coast of the US and in the West Indies. Breeding takes place in the spring. It is occasionally seen inland, particularly after tropical storms. A few other sightings of Royal Terns have been reported to eBird for the Lake Chapala area. Typically these sightings were made many years ago but were only recently entered on eBird.

The Upland Sandpiper was sighted by Nicola Cendron at the pumping station, on migration. This species is a prairie grass bird. It is a long-distance migrant, breeding primarily on the Great Plains of the US and spending the winter mainly in Argentina. It is seen in Mexico while migrating south in the second half of August or first half of September. It migrates in groups, flying during the night, resting in fields during the day.
Featured Bird: Violet-crowned Hummingbird
A Violet-crowned Hummingbird identified by the white front and underparts. It is common here at the Lakeshore. It tends to dominate other hummers around hummingbird feeders.
  • TheViolet-crowned Hummingbird is one of two common hummingbirds at Lake Chapala (the other is the Broad-billed.)
  • It is a resident endemic in Mexico, however, in recent years an increasing number are migrating north into the US for the summer.
  • Males and females are difficult to tell apart. It is a mistake to think that duller, greener birds are females - they are really just immatures. They take two or more years to reach full adult plumage.
  • It is adaptable to a wide variety of landscapes from scrub to forest to gardens.
  • The nest is built on a branch or fork of a branch, 3 to 20 feet off the ground.
  • As with other hummingbirds, the male guards the nest while the female does most of the work of nest building, incubating and feeding the young.
Upcoming 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 September 9, 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 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 do not always have enough cars.)

On Monday, September 19, we will meet at 8.15 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 am we will head to Fonda Dona Lola for breakfast and to review 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 opposite the west end of the new retirement community of El Pueblito and park immediately on the lateral road parallel to the carretera.

On Tuesday September 27, we will meet at 8.00 am at the "Sculpture" (at the only traffic light in La Floresta, south west corner, opposite Restaurant Pranzo), departing immediately for Villa Corona on Lake Atotonilco (60 minutes drive). We expect to see various shore birds such as White-faced Ibis and Roseate Spoonbill. Bring your own mid-morning refreshments. There will be a break for snacking at 11.00 am. We will be back in Ajijic by about 1.30 pm. You must reserve - email John at least 2 days ahead of time, saying if you can bring a vehicle and can take others, or whether you are looking for a ride. Remember, we do not always have enough vehicles.
Birdwalk & Trip Reports
On August 19, we had 13 people out for the trip to the Lake Cajititlan Marsh. The weather was good, allowing us to see 49 species including Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Loggerhead Shrike, Wood Stork, White-tailed Hawk, White-tailed Kite and Northern Bobwhite. The bird of the day was the Blue-black Grassquit which was performing its jumping dance.

On August 30, we had five car-loads of people (this is the upper limit!) going to the Sierra de Tapalpa. Unfortunately it was severely overcast after rain all night, so we only managed to identify 24 species including Red-winged Blackbird, Common Raven, Ruddy Duck, American Robbin, Cinnamon-rumped Seedeater and Orange-billed Nightingale Thrush. The bird of the day was the Yellow-eyed Junco.
Monthly Sightings List
Here are the 115 species sighted around Lake Chapala in August:

Ani, groove-billed
Avocet, American (Jo)
Becard, gray-collared (Tr)
Bittern, least (Rp)
Blackbird, yellow-headed (Dp)
Bobwhite, northern (Ca)
Caracara, crested
Chat, yellow-breasted (Tr)
Coot, American
Cormorant, neotropic
Cowbird, bronzed
Cuckoo, squirrel (Sa)
Dickcissel (Ch)
Dove, common ground
Dove, Eurasian collared
Dove, Inca
Dove, white-tipped
Dove, white-winged
Duck, black-bellied whistling
Duck, fulvous whistling
Duck, Mexican
Egret, cattle
Egret, great
Egret, snowy
Elaenia, greenish At)
Euphonia, elegant (Tr)
Finch, house
Flycatcher, dusky-capped
Flycatcher, gray silky (Sa0
Flycatcher, social
Flycatcher, vermilion
Gallinule, common
Goldfinch, lesser
Grackle, great-tailed
Grassquit, blue-black
Grebe, least (Rp)
Grebe, pied-billed (Ca)
Grosbeak, blue
Gull, laughing
Gull, ring-billed
Hawk, Cooper's (Rp)
Hawk, red-tailed (At)
Hawk, sharp-shinned (Tr)
Hawk, white-tailed (Ca)
Heron, black-crowned night
Heron, great blue
Heron, little blue
Hummingbird, berylline
Hummingbird, broad-billed
Hummingbird, broad-tailed (Rp)
Hummingbird, violet-crowned
Ibis, white-faced
Jacana, northern
Kingbird, Cassin's
Kingbird, thick-billed
Kingbird, tropical
Kingfisher, belted (Dp)
Kiskadee, great
Kite, white-tailed (Dp)
Mockingbird, blue
Motmot, russet-crowned (Rp)
Oriole, black-backed
Oriole, black-vented
Oriole, orchard (Rp)
Oriole, streak-backed
Owl, ferruginous pygmy (Av)
Owl, mountain pygmy (Tr)
Pelican, American white
Pelican, brown
Pewee, greater
Pewee, western wood
Pigeon, rock
Rail, Aztec (Ch)
Robin, rufous-backed
Sandpiper, spotted
Sandpiper, upland (Ch)
Seedeater, cinnamon-rumped
Shrike, loggerhead
Solitaire, brown-backed (Tr)
Sparrow, house
Sparrow, rufous-crowned
Sparrow, stripe-headed
Spoonbill, roseate (Dp)
Stork, wood (Ca)
Swallow, barn
Swallow, cliff (Dp)
Swallow, northern rough-winged
Swift, white-throated (Tr)
Tanager, flame-colored (Tr)
Teal, blue-winged (Jo)
Teal, cinnamon (Rp)
Tern, Forster's (Jo)
Tern, royal (Jo)
Thrasher, curve-billed
Thrush, orange-billed nightingale
Thrush, White-throated (Tr)
Towhee, canyon
Trogon, elegant(Tr)
Tyrannulet, northern beardless (At)
Vireo, golden
Vulture, black
Vulture, turkey
Warbler, rufous-capped (Tr)
Warbler, yellow
Woodcreeper, white striped (Tr)
Woodpecker, golden-fronted
Woodpecker, ladder-backed
Wren, Bewick's
Wren, canyon
Wren, happy (At)
Wren, house (Tr)
Wren, spotted
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
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. Also available from John Keeling.

We like to hear of bird sightings at:

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