Sunday, September 3, 2023


Chapala Birders Newsletter, September 2, 2023
Sightings this Month

There were 135 species reported for the lake area in August. The complete list is shown at the end of this newsletter. Some interesting sightings:

  • On the Caracol Trail a group of us saw the uncommon male Gray-collared Becard (see note below) and also photographed a female Rose-throated Becard.
  • Noe Munoz reported Elegant Trogon and White-throated Thrush above Las Trojes.
  • On the Mezcala Mountain we saw a pod of mixed warbler species (Red-faced, Hermit, Townsend's, Black-throated Gray) and a pod of Grace's Warblers.
  • Nicola Cendron reports hearing Upland Sandpipers migrating overhead at night.
Featured Bird: Gray-collared Becard
An adult male Gray-collared Becard photographed by Jalisco birder Julio Alvarez.
  • The Gray-collard Becard is an uncommon flycatcher found in Mexico and Central America as far south as Nicaragua.
  • It is a small stocky bird with a flat-topped head and distinctive cap. The colors on the female and immatures are light-brown or beige and dark brown, instead of white and black.
  • It has recently been observed in our area on the Caracol Trail and the Las Trojes-Chupinaya Trail.
  • In Jalisco it is an altitudinal migrant meaning that it relocates to lower altitudes in winter.
  • It feeds primarily on insects as well as berries and fruits in season.
  • Few scientific studies of the life history of this species have been made.
Lake Chapala Hawk Migration
A year ago we discovered that the mountains on the north side of the lake are a natural "leading line" for any hawks reluctant to fly across the lake. Also, that the Mezcala Mountain is a good viewing spot. The peak time for the fall hawk migration is expected to be October 1 to October 20.
We plan to make 'small group' trips to Mezcala Mountain starting in the last week of September. Email John if you are interested.
Here are few facts about the hawk migration:
  • Most hawks will be reluctant to fly across the lake (will there be thermals on the other side?), but Osprey and Peregrine Falcon are more likely to fly straight across.
  • Hawks need to glide on rising thermals which depend on sunshine. So do not expect much activity before 10.00 am. Bird gliding speeds are limited, typically 40 to 60 kmh.
  • Many of the hawks will be quite high, so you need good binocs, a good camera and good identification skills.
  • Last year we recorded 11 Hawk species and 4 species of Falcon and Kite.
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk and Broad-winged Hawk come through early, while Red-tailed Hawks will often come later.
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 try to limit most car trips to three vehicles and 14 people 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 $150 pesos for a half day outing, $300 pesos for a day trip).

On Friday September 8, we will meet at 8.00 am at the "Sculpture" (at the only traffic light in La Floresta, (south-east corner), 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 end up in Tapalpa to have lunch at a restaurant overlooking the square. Expect to be back about 4.00 pm. You must reserve - email John at at least 2 days ahead indicating if you can bring a vehicle and can take others, or you would like to be a passenger. (We don't always have enough cars).

On Thursday September 14, we will meet at 8.00am to hike a mile or more up the Allen Lloyd Trail which has lots of underbrush in which birds love to hide. Expect to see Blue Mockingbird and hear the Happy Wren - if we are lucky. At about 10.00 we will head to Cafe Negro restaurant for breakfast and complete the bird list.
How to get to the trail head: Drive up the Libramiento a half mile (1km) from the traffic light at Walmart, then turn left (carefully) as for the new hospital (Ribera Medical Center), double back and drive up the left side of the hospital, keep going uphill another half mile, and park on the only street existing to your left.

On Tuesday September 26, we will meet at 8.00 am at the "Sculpture" (at the only traffic light in La Floresta, (south-east corner), 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 3.30 pm. You must reserve - email John at at least 2 days ahead indicating if 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 August 7 we had a small group of five birders on Two Dams Road. The area was quite productive with 38 species observed, including Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Fulvous Whistling Duck, Wood Stork, Rusty-crowned Ground Sparrow, Stripe-headed Sparrow, Northern Jacana and a Gray-crowned Yellowthroat singling loudly from the top of a tree.

On August 17 we had 12 people at the top of Mezcala Mountain. The area has suffered from a recent brush-fire so the bird life is reduced, but we were rewarded with the sighting of a pod of early migrating warblers: Red-faced Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Townsend's Warbler and Hermit Warbler.
Monthly Sightings List
Here are the 135 species sighted around Lake Chapala in August:

Ani, groove-billed
Avocet, American (Ja)
Becard, gray-collared
Becard, rose-throated
Bittern, American
Blackbird, red-winged (Ch)
Blackbird, yellow-headed (Ja)
Bunting, varied
Caracara, crested
Coot, American
Cormorant, neotropic
Cowbird, bronzed
Cowbird, brown-headed
Cuckoo, squirrel
Dove, common ground
Dove, Eurasian collared
Dove, Inca
Dove, white-tipped
Dove, white-winged
Duck, black-bellied whistling
Duck, fulvous whistling
Duck, Mexican
Duck, ruddy
Egret, cattle
Egret, great
Egret, snowy
Elaenia, greenish
Euphonia, elegant
Finch, house
Flycatcher, ash-throated
Flycatcher, brown-crested
Flycatcher, dusky-capped
Flycatcher, gray silky
Flycatcher, least (Sa)
Flycatcher, Nutting's (Sa)
Flycatcher, vermilion
Flycatcher, western
Gallinule, common
Goldfinch, lesser
Grackle, great-tailed
Grassquit, blue-black (Pz)
Grebe, least
Grebe, pied-billed
Grosbeak, black-headed
Grosbeak, blue
Gull, laughing
Gull, ring-billed
Hawk, Cooper's (Sa)
Hawk, red-tailed
Heron, black-crowned night
Heron, great blue
Heron, green
Heron, tri-colored
Hummingbird, berylline
Hummingbird, broad-billed
Hummingbird, rufous (Sc,Sa)
Hummingbird, violet-crowned
Ibis, white-faced
Jacana, northern
Kingbird, Cassin's
Kingbird, thick-billed
Kingbird, tropical
Kiskadee, great
Kite, white-tailed (Jo)
Mockingbird, blue
Motmot, russet-crowned
Nightjar, buff-collared
Oriole, black-backed
Oriole, black-vented
Oriole, orchard
Oriole, streak-backed
Osprey (Sa)
Owl, ferruginous pygmy
Owl, great horned
Parakeet, monk
Pelican, American white
Pewee, greater
Pewee, western wood (Sa)
Phalarope, Wilson's (Ja)
Phoebe, black
Phoebe, Say's
Pigeon, rock
Roadrunner, greater
Roadrunner, lesser
Robin, rufous-backed
Sandpiper, least
Sandpiper, spotted
Sandpiper, upland
Seedeater, cinnamon-rumped
Shrike, loggerhead
Sparrow, house
Sparrow, rufous-crowned
Sparrow, rusty-crowned ground
Sparrow, stripe-headed
Stilt, black-necked
Stork, wood
Swallow, barn
Swallow, cliff
Swallow, northern rough-winged
Tanager, hepatic
Tanager, western
Teal, green-winged (Jo)
Tern, Forster's (Sa)
Tern, Royal (Ja)
Thrasher, curve-billed
Thrush, orange-billed nightingale
Thrush, White-throated
Towhee, canyon
Trogon, elegant
Tyrannulet, northern beardless
Vireo, golden (Sa)
Vulture, black
Vulture, turkey
Warbler, black-throated gray (Mz,Po)
Warbler, crescent-chested (Av)
Warbler, Grace's (Mz,Po)
Warbler, hermit
Warbler, MacGillivray's
Warbler, red-faced (Mz)
Warbler, rufous-capped
Warbler, Townsend's
Warbler, Wilson's
Warbler, yellow
Woodcreeper, white striped
Woodpecker, golden-fronted
Woodpecker, ladder-backed
Wren, Bewick's
Wren, canyon
Wren, happy
Wren, house (Ja)
Wren, Sinaloa (Sa)
Wren, spotted
Yellowlegs, lesser (Ja)
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
Cu - Chapala Haciendas & UofG
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
Mz - Mezcala
Oc - Ocotlan
Pe - Petatan area
Ps - Pumping Station & Santa Cruz
Pt - San Pedro Tesistan
Pz - San Pedro Itzican/Poncitlan
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.