Our contractor and good friend Jose and I were talking together one day. I mentioned to him how important it would be to me to hike way up the Sierra de LaGuna mountains to look for a particular bird. “A very special bird” I told him. It’s called the Baird’s Junco. A bird endemic to Baja. A bird seldom seen. I took out my National Audubon Society field guide and showed him a picture of the Baird’s cousin, a Yellow-Eyed Junco. Jose says ” I live here all my life and never see this bird”. I tell Jose the bird is high in the mountains and I need a guide to take me way up there, pointing west.
This photo was taken by me a few days later. You see, Jose is a “can do” sort of guy. He told me he knows of a man who was born on a ranch near Rancho la Victoria in the high mountains, just the area I need to search. He set me up and away I go to look for the Junco.
My Darling Debbie had to sit this one out. She knew I would be hiking many kilometers up to high altitudes and she didn’t want to slow me down. Bless her heart anyway. Like the air in these mountains, the views took my breath away. There were deer…
And beautiful, awe-inspiring landscapes…
The road up was 4X4 passible only until the last 5 or 6 kilometers. Then, get out and walk…almost straight up!
At the end of the trail sets an old casa. Someone’s dream crumbling by time and the elements. I was told the owner died before completion. Such isolation, miles from nowhere, just amazing.
My new buddy and guide for the day is named Luis. He wouldn’t admit it, but I new he thought I was totally nuts. Going through all this to maybe see a “beard” as he calls them. All the ranchers on the way up that we talked to had never seen the “hunco” except one old gentleman. He said “seee”, pointing further up the mountain.
Nearing the top. We are stopping every 200 feet or so to catch our breaths. Still no “beards” and I’m a little disappointed about that. Luis is pointing at a bush as I approach him. I hear something like a Towhee scratching around in the leaves on the ground. I phish a little. I go phish…phisssh. Right then, behind my right ear I hear a thin, wispy phish…phisssh. Totally freaking out I twist 180 degrees leaving my feet where they were, camera in hand, almost falling over and there it is!!!!!!!!! Too close to shoot with my 100X400 lens. This Junco is, maybe, 3 feet away. I try to gather my composure thinking the bird will fly before I can take a photo. I’m whispering something like “oh my _ _ _! oh my _ _ _!!!! There’s nothing going on in the world except me and that bird at that moment. I finally straighten up and take a shot. There’s 3 or 4 of them, shamelessly ignoring me while they call to one another and they fly off. The Baird’s Junco.
Okay, Luis and I shake hands. I’m so happy! What a day.
I’m getting pooped out. All that adrenaline lost to the Junco and Luis points to my car (blurry spot, center top) reminding me we’re still miles away from rest. Slipping and sliding on the sandy gravel trail, we’re about half way down Luis points and says “beard”.
I walk over to him to take a look. I’ll be darned. A completely out-of-range bird. There, flitting around in some bushes is an American Bushtit. I’ve seen this bird before in the states. I take a few photos while I’m thinking there must be so much more to see here. This area is so isolated from the rest of the world. I am very fortunate to have this opportunity.
Well, I wore myself out reliving this adventure for you. Hope you enjoyed. Don’t forget to “like” this blog and Happy Birding and Merry Christmas from Chris and Debbie.