Baja birders at high altitudes.

High up in the Sierra de Laguna mountains of Baja Sur.

The Biosphere

The Biosphere

The trail at the bottom of this mountain, we would find out later, was just the beginning of our 3 day, 2 night outing.  Debbie couldn’t make this hike.  She really doesn’t like sleeping on the ground, so it’s up to me and our best friends Bill, Bill and Jane to climb the rugged Baja mountains in search of vistas and, for me especially, birds.  We worked switchbacks back and fourth, higher and higher for miles.  The treck began at an elevation somewhere around 1500 hundred feet and I think Bill and Jane ( no stopping this couple!) made it to 5500 feet or so.  Our guide is the best!  Edgardo, bajasierradventures.com, is patient, knowledgeable and made sure we lacked for nothing.  The mule handlers, Catharino (the man of the mountains) and Alexandro sang by the camp-fire at night and even tried to hunt down a wild pig for us. Me, well, I pooped out with an injured knee after 7 or 8 hours traveling the slopes and had to stay at the base camp the second day.  My best buddy Bill stayed there with me the second day to keep me company while Bill and Jane traveled on.  Some bird photos include this Black-throated gray Warbler I saw near the camp—

Black-throated Gray Warbler

Black-throated Gray Warbler

Maybe it was meant to be, but staying at the base camp had it’s own rewards.  The camp-site area itself is on a river-like stream way more than a bubbling brook.  A small roar from the fast, cascading water was just noisy enough to make us raise our voices a bit while talking.  When exploring Bill found a quiet canyon nearby, I took the opportunity to call some birds.  First to show up was a colony of Acorn Woodpeckers.  With their clown-faces and antics, we watched as one fetched an acorn from an Encino Tree (Oak), placed it with the pointy end inward in one of the holes in the lek and pounded it with gusto.

Acorn Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpecker

I’m using a Northern Pygmy Owl call.  This often attracts all different types of birds.  Next to show up are several Western Tanagers.  Here’s a male trying to look his best!

Western Tanager

Western Tanager

When I switch to a Cape Pygmy Owl call,  a mid-low tone hoo——hooo——-hoo, right away, in the distance, I hear an owl call back.  Bill!…come over here!  Look up there.  We both see one owl that has landed 50 feet up in a nearby tree.  As we watch, it’s mate joins her (he is smaller) and gives her an owl-kiss.  How cool is that?!

Cape pygmy Owls

Cape pygmy Owls

Cape-pygmy Owls

Cape-pygmy Owls

We leave the owls to themselves and Bill decides to do a little carving on his walking stick.

Bill Barbour

Bill Barbour

Me?  I take my camera and go sit on a rock.  I turn on my bird call with the sound of a Black-capped Gnatcatcher. This call attracts many species of birds.  To my utter amazement, a bird flies and lands up-side down on a palm a hundred feet away.  What the heck?  My binos show me that this is a White-breasted Nuthatch.  Turns out, this is the only place in Baja where these birds have been seen, amazing!  How lucky!

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

Following are a few shots— At the trail head,

Left to right, Edgardo, Jane and Bill Perry, Bill Barbour

Left to right, Edgardo, Jane and Bill Perry, Bill Barbour

By the base camp.  Yes, the water is cold.

By the base-camp

By the base-camp

This hike is not for people that are expecting a walk-in-the-park.  It is tough, no doubt.  I’m chomping at the bit to do it again!   This time, at least 5 days.  Too much marching and not enough “stop and look” time.  I will go again.  Up to the lagoons (pasture now), and maybe more.  This area is so untouched.  “till next time—-Happy Birding from Chris and Debbie

 

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One Response to Baja birders at high altitudes.

  1. mom says:

    Chris (Oly), you always manage to find unusual birds and, they are always beautiful and interesting !!!! What a great trip and you had some great friends with you. I admire little Jane for going with you. I’ll bet she really enjoyed seeing all of the native stuff and the hike. I always enjoy your posts———Love, Mom

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