High up in the Sierra de Laguna mountains of Baja Sur.
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—
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.
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!
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?!
We leave the owls to themselves and Bill decides to do a little carving on his walking stick.
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!
Following are a few shots— At the trail head,
By the base camp. Yes, the water is cold.
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