Baja Birding up an arroyo


Haven’t been up the San Bartolo arroyo in several years.  Funny how we can become creatures of habit, possibly missing so many opportunities to experience different species and how they live their lives at the same time we are living ours her on the amazing planet Earth.  I found it interesting to see how the foliage had sprung up in the dry desert.  You can actually see several layers of foliage now.  I don’t think the San Bartolo arroyo has ran since hurricane John, nearly six years ago.  Many different formations  are available now for permanent desert dwellers or stopovers.  Some may prepare nests and stay a while and others may simply seek shade from the increasingly hot Baja sun and then be on their way.  Most appear to be songbirds.  The songbirds are under sharp surveillance, particularly during migration to and from our warmer climate here in Baja.  I wonder if they ever have peaceful moments when they do not need to be aware of their predators.  Think about it…would you like to be hunted your whole life?

We had just crossed under the Hwy 1 bridge that spans the San Bartolo arroyo.  Off to the left in a lazy shrub I see movement.  I squeeze my quad to a stop and pull the trusty Canon T2i with the 100-400 optics up for a closer look.  I see what I initially think is the belly of a female House finch and just about moto on.  But…….wait…..I see a distinguishable eye ring!  That’s not a House finch!  I continue to hold my not so light camera setup as still as possible and then….OMG…the male of the species lands right inside my frame.  I see vivid color in my viewfinder.  It is not the House finches but the Varied buntings!

I hope I don’t bore you of my tales about the Varied Buntings but…I can’t take my eyes off them.  He is unmistakable in his natural display of subtly beautiful colors.  I motion Chris to come around the other side of the desert shrub so he can get a peek and hopefully a shot of the beauty not ten feet away from us.  Sure enough, he gets to enjoy yet another fantastic specimen sighting.

female Varied Bunting

female House Finch










I’m always amazed when I am in the desert, thinking….

and feeling that I am the only human for miles (besides Chris, of coures) and then, I look into the tall thick grove of native trees and down low in the branches……I see a White winged dove. Now….wait a minute…..this is a species that I see in significant numbers in my backyard and I want to tell them to fly off because I want to see lesser populated species?  Wait…did I just say that?  I want another species to become less existant because I want to see more of another?  Geez….ok… check.

So, we spent the day in the desert chasing birds.  You know by now if you follow this blog, that that is what we like to do.  Funny thing tho…we’ll be gone chasing for four or five hours and get back to the casa dusty and tired, ready for an ice cold quench thirsting Corona.  We grab one and sit out on the south patio and what do we see…….a new species for us here in Baja California Sur.  Go figure!  Ha ha…isn’t life grand?

Cooper's Hawk

Most species of birds are so beautiful and I feel very fortunate to see all that I see.  But….when I see brilliant color, unmistakable grace or such outstanding qualities….it’s hard to ignore and you want a front row seat for the performance.  Many times in the birding world, that can be a very short performance as they fly out of your world and into someone else’s.  I wouldn’t give up the chase for anything.


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