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Birds We See? A surprise! – Chris Llewellyn's "Birds Eye Views"

Birds We See? A surprise!

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Ok…house keeper’s coming this morning.  Do we want to go to the lagoon and see if we can chase down some Western Meadow Larks?  The elusive ones we could not get a great photo of last time we were there.  Or…….yeah…ok…let’s go see if we can score some WML’s.  Mom!  We are going to the lagoon!

Fruit bowls downed, water, binoculars, cameras, extra batteries, hats….let’s go!  Mom even made it into the car in record time!  Bless her heart….she’s 88 and acts like she’s 70.  She is quite the trooper indeed.  We enjoy telling her and showing her about the birds.  Can’t help but snicker once in a while tho!  Like today, when she asked if the Jack Rabbits ate little animals.  Chris says, “Mom…you remember watching Bugs Bunny?  He’s the one that always had a carrot in his mouth.”  She laughs.

Turn off the pavement of Hwy 1, Baja’s only highway and hit the dirt.  Chris asks if we want to drive slow or just get to the lagoon.  This is really kind of a loaded question.  I mean…if you are a birder, you stop when you see a bird, right?  So…that’s what we did.  Sun was just right so had to stop and get these two beauties that were posing for us.

The Western Scrub Jay looks like to me that he has a necklace of feathers.  It’s more prominent on some, most likely the males and I’ll keep trying to get a photo of it at its best.  The Northern Mockingbird is a character all on his own and has entertained me many times.

Almost to the lagoon…..  Wait!  What’s that!  Shoot him, shoot him!  I grab the camera that I have in the front seat with me (at all times on an outing) and hand it to Chris as he’s on the sun side of the vehicle.  We can’t quite make out the bird.  Hmmmm…something new!  “It’s a Robin”!  First time we have seen and photographed it here in Baja California Sur, Mexico or anywhere for that matter!  It favors the American Robin but lighter in color and perhaps more gray on the back than the brown of the American Robin.  We had some research to do when we returned home.  Here’s what we found.

Endemic Species

There are six species of birds found only in Baja California, and all dwell in habitat found in the mountains and wetlands in the southern half of the peninsula. Both the Baird’s junco and the San Lucas robin prefer forest habitat in the Sierra Laguna range. Though the cape pygmy owl, gray thrasher, Xantu’s hummingbird and Belding’s yellowthroat resemble their close relatives from the United States, look for the distinct characteristics to identify these endemic birds.

So…there you have it!  It’s a San Lucas robin!  And get him we did!  Beautiful species!

San Lucas robin

It is sometimes classed as a separate species, the San Lucas Robin, but the American Ornithologists’ Union regards it as only a subspecies, albeit in a different group from the other races.

What a great find this was and just by chance.  Just by chance….that’s how you find most of the birds!

Guess we got really lucky as he is mostly up in the mountains and here he was (probably a male as he was really guapo) down by the beautiful Sea of Cortez.


Gray Flycatcher

Ok…let me out here!  I’ll meet you guys up where we park the car later.  I saw so many birds flitting around that I had to get out and see what they were!  Ok….where do I start? Left side, suns coming in from the South, perfect light.  Oh!  What’s that!  Click…click..click, click.  It’s the Gray Flycatcher!    We’ve seen this little cutie before but, with a face like that, you just can’t help but shoot every time you see it.



Palm Warbler

And guess what?  I got a lifer!  Evidently very rare here.  Some authorities (forum experts) say this is the furthest west they have ever heard of this particular bird being.  Do you want to know what it is?  Ok…I’ll show you and even tell you its name.  It’s the Palm Warbler (Western species).

We were very excited to get this bird into our Baja Collection.  It will be added along with a few others within the next couple of days.  We have nearly 100 photos to add!

Ok..on to the lagoon!  Whew!  This is shaping up to be quite a birding day.  And Chris has his own stories to post as he took off to the South lagoon.  I’ll go to the North.  Mom will walk the beach and hang around the car.  She’s got her binoculars though!

Which way do I start shooting first?  Where’s the best cover?  I walk around the first lagoon to the grassy area between it and another lagoon further north.  This is the same area we saw the WML’s last visit.  Ok..there’s one palm tree that will give me shade, looks like a good place to freeze and wait.

Ring necked duck

Oh!  Over there!  In the southern lagoon!  It’s a pair of Ring necked ducks! Click, click…click click click click!  Boy, I’m sure glad we upgraded these cameras!  Gotta love that shutters speed.  You can tell which one’s the male right?  Right.  The guapo one.

Female Vermilion Flycatcher

Then this little cutie pie lands not 10 meters away from me.  She’s been elusive to me for several months now.  But….I got her!  I got her before but still trying for that “just right” shot.  I think I’ll have to keep trying on this one.  And…oh yeah..talking about guapo…  Do you remember when we introduced you to the male Vermilion Flycatcher???  Click on the link if you want to see guapo!

Ok…I want to sit down.  This standing in one place like a statue for an hour is over. There’s some drift wood out in the open.  Pretty sunny day, maybe about 80 degrees out.  I’ll see how long I can stand it.  I mosey over to the wood, thinking it might make a good parking place.  I’m scouting out the ground around it….can’t ever be too careful when you are in the wild you know!

Oh!  What’s that!!!??  This is something I have never come across before!  WOW!  Look at that!  I try to take its photo but with only a 100-400 lens, it’s quite difficult to get a close up shot of something so small and in the shade of my new stalking place.  After a few shots and not paying much attention to anything else, I’m going around and around this moth as I become more aware of its delicate body, huge eyes and magnificent colors.




And….what’s that!  Geez!  It has this long tongue like thing protruding around.  Like its getting water, nectar or something.

I mean, this thing was at least a foot long!  Then it coils it back up like a wound up fire hose.

I get a piece of dried palm and lifted it into the sunlight more, still trying to get a photo with my too huge of a lens.

Ok…back to the birds.  There are a lot of things happening around you all the time at the lagoons.  It’s a really fun and exciting place to go.

Brown Pelican

I look north again (remember the suns coming from the south) and here’s a Brown Pelican fishing for his lunch.  There are lots of little fish in the lagoon.  You can here them rushing the top of the water quite often.  Well, I’d move around quickly too if I was being chased by Egrets, Herons, King Fishers, Cormorants, you get the picture….

Speaking of pictures….I couldn’t resist this one with this Brown Pelican making a landing with the Sea of Cortez and the La Laguna Mountains in the background.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Well….here I am….in the middle of the grassy area, two lagoons on either side, shooting away like mad.  I never did get to sit down and never thought about it again I was so busy. Oh!  What’s that!????  I see something moving.  Coming out of the dead grass at the far Eastern end of the lagoon.  About 40 feet away.  I bring swing the big lens up.  OH!  It’s a cat!  What kind of cat, I’m not exactly sure.  But….oh shoot!  This cat is coming right for me.  Now….I have been stampeded by buffalo, charged by an elephant and stalked by leopard.  This cat is stalking me!  He’s coming right for me and he’s not such a little cat either.  Believe me….the closer he got, the louder my heart got.  My protector and husband Chris is wayyyy away from me.  Mom’s at the car but she can’t hear so well and….well…what do I do!?  I start looking around….no big bad sticks.  Well, guess I’ll have to use my big lens if he jumps at me.  I snapped off a couple of shots….closer..closer….he comes.  Ok…now I’m getting scared.  I put my camera down so it’s hanging around my neck.  I stand up as tall as I possibly can, all 5’5” of me and start madly waving my hands while facing the cat.  He keeps coming….  Ok…time for an exit.  I was not sure if this would make him run at me or not.  He was already picking up speed.  Very quickly, I retract from the grassy area between the two lagoons.  Keeping my head turned around to see if he was following, I go across the muddy part to get to the car quicker.  I see Mom…she picks up her binioculars and knows somethign’s wrong.  Normally I’m stalking, not walking very rapidly when I am birding.  I make it to the car.  That’s enough “birding” for today.  Here are the shots of the bobcat.

Very odd for the bobcat to be stalking a human but there are reported cases.  He may be rabid so if you are in the La Ribera/Rancho Leonero area, you may want to watch out for this cat.  But…what a beautiful creature.




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