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November 2015 – Chris Llewellyn's "Birds Eye Views"
 

Month: November 2015

The wind won’t stop blowing but I’ve got to do some Baja birding!

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Birding is pretty tough when the weather is windy and cloudy.  I decided to check out the LaGoons today, just had to get out of the casa.  Am I ever glad I did because I found one more bird that is way out of it’s range.  The Surf Scoter (click on the link), doesn’t belong this far south.  Another pat-on-the-back for Oly!

Surf Scoter
Surf Scoter

 

Moving along, I’m heading towards a flock of sandpipers hunkered down from the wind when I see another bird I don’t remember seeing here before.  This is a Black-bellied Plover.  As you can see, while this plover is not really out of range, it isn’t very common here either.

Black-bellied Plover
Black-bellied Plover

This bird was very suspicious of me, so I keep my distance and walk down the beach to where I had seen the other sandpipers.  I see a mixed bag of birds moving quickly away from me.  Here’s a good comparison shot of, left to right, a Western Sandpiper(dark legs), Least Sandpiper(yellowish legs) and a Semipalmated Plover.

Western Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper and Semipalmated Plover
Western Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper and Semipalmated Plover

A flock of Blue-winged Teal fly by with the sun casting bad light (for photographing) behind them.

Blue-winged Teal
Blue-winged Teal

And an Elegant Tern pleases my eyes as it flies nearly overhead.

Elegant Tern
Elegant Tern

I find a turtle nest that was laid during the night.  The ATVs have almost driven over it so I dig up some big sticks out of the brush to put around it.  Maybe this will discourage people from riding over the nest.  As you can see from this picture, the nests are almost impossible to see.

Turtle nest
Turtle nest

I wasn’t going to post the following photo, but my friends urged me to do so.  Obviously, turtles have a lot of issues facing their existence.  When I was pulling sticks out of the brush to mark the nest I found the following: a dead turtle someone had wired a harness around probably to drag behind a boat or drag on the beach (see the scuffs on it’s back) to, maybe their car and then left it behind.  This was no accident!  This is fencing-type wire carefully wrapped around the shell.  How sad.

Turtle _

 

 

I’m in deep thought as a Western Gull watches me leave the lagoons once more.  Bye, bye for now. Chris & Debbie

Western Gull
Western Gull

We did it! Baja’s “Big 6”.

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Baja has it’s own “Big 6” when referring to birds.  Just a day ago, Debbie and I completed our mission to photograph all 6 birds endemic to Baja Sur. After stopping while driving up the San Antonio road, using my iPod, I tried calling a certain bird we’ve been trying to shoot for forever.  This time, like never before, it actually flew to us and landed on a small tree nearby.  No good!  We’re facing right into the sun!  Debbie, the birding pro she is, whistled like an owl which kept the bird close as it flew across the road into good light.  It kept looking away so I meowed like a kitten and it gave me this look! #1 on our list…The Cape Pygmy Owl.

Cape Pygmy Owl
Cape Pygmy Owl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2 is a bird very few people ever see, mostly because the only place in the world it lives is high up in the Sierra de Laguna Mts.  Debbie wasn’t up for the hike at the time I had to go to get this bird, but with the help of my friend, Luis, I got him.  Here’s it’s picture, The Baird’s Junco…

Baird's Junco
Baird’s Junco

The next bird on the list was a little easier to capture.  Always a joy to hear singing and watching looking for things to eat around the casa. With little teepees on it’s chest, #3, The Gray Thrasher…

Gray Thrasher
Gray Thrasher

A bird we photographed that was forced down from higher elevations during a drought a few years ago makes the # 4 spot on our list of endemic birds of Baja, The San Lucas Robin…

San Lucas Robin
San Lucas Robin

The bird that helps define the absolute beauty of Baja California Sur, Mexico.  At #5…The Xantus’s Hummingbird.

Xantus's Hummingbird
Xantus’s Hummingbird

Sadly, the last bird to make our list complete is one that may not be around for long.  At least we have photos to prove that we actually lived to see it before it becomes extinct. Developing wetlands, like new marinas, has left this bird with only a few recognized hectors of habitat to live on.  #6, The Beldings Yellowthroat…

Belding's Yellowthroat
Belding’s Yellowthroat

Now, after completing this photographic journey to shoot all the endemics of Baja Sur, I have to wonder whats’ next?  ” Whats’ next ” is whatever happens the next time Debbie and I pick up our cameras.  Always something new to shoot.  “til next time, Happy Birding from Chris and Debbie.

 

 

 

So good to have Debbie to bird with.

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She couldn’t make it to the lagoons last time, but she was there with me yesterday.  It’s a good thing she was because, like usual, she gets the best shots.  While I’m out scooting around here and there, blazing trails for birds, Debbie just kind of takes it easy and lets them come to her.  This can be the best strategy when trying to photograph our feathered friends, like the Great Egret in the lagoon-defining shot  (on the cover) she captured, and just take a look at this Green Heron that landed right next to her, WOW!

Green Heron
Green Heron

I headed on down to the “big” lagoon, the idea was to look for a Clapper Rail but having no luck with that I start walking.  Now there’s a site I haven’t seen in these waters before…a small flock of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks.  Well I’ll be darned, always a new surprise in the Lagoons at La Ribera.

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks
Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

While I’m standing there, in awe of these beautiful ducks, a Greater Yellowlegs makes it’s appearance.  Guess where this sandpiper-like bird gets it’s name?

Greater Yellowlegs
Greater Yellowlegs

Just then, a flock of sandpipers join us.  First, a Western Sandpiper.  Dark, droopy bill, dark feet and 4 toes (not 3 like the Sanderling).

Western Sandpiper
Western Sandpiper

And with the Western is a Least Sandpiper.  Greenish/yellowish legs, pointier and shorter bill than the Western and feet not very webbed like the Semipalmated Sandpiper which this bird can be confused with in this plumage.

Least Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper

Then I see a Semipalmated Plover.  Everyone says these birds are so “cute”.

Semipalmated Plover
Semipalmated Plover

I feel like I’m being watched.  Looking over my shoulder, there’s a Crested Caracara on the sand turning his head away to act like he’s not watching me.  Busted in the act of sizing me up like I might be something good to eat.  I saw you!

Crested Caracara
Crested Caracara

More birds are arriving in Baja Sur every day as they migrate here or through here on their way south.  That means there is an opportunity to see something different almost every time we go birding.  Off in a different direction tomorrow,  I’ll show you what we get so…Happy Birding from Chris and Debbie.          Like us on FaceBook if you would.