What a day can bring for these Baja birders.
My darling Debbie and I took a ride in the car up San Antonio road the other day. This road turns south off the highway at the bridge “Agua Blanca”, maybe 5 or 10 miles east of San Bartolo. The road runs through the Sierra de Laguna Biosphere. Birds are everywhere. Large flocks of Brewer’s Sparrows, Clay-colored Sparrows, Lark Sparrows and Morning Doves were all over the place. Debbie was taking photos of a Red-tailed Hawk when it landed not far from us. We could see it had twigs in it’s bill for nest building when all of a sudden—
the hawk sees something that freezes it like ice and then w-h-a-m-m-o! It pounces on a nearby branch. Watching in quiet amazement, we can see the bird drop the twigs and clutch at something all in one motion. Check out Debbie’s photos. The Red-tail caught a snake, looks to me like a gopher snake (Debbie noticed the tail hanging down, bottom right), and starts eating the critter right before our eyes.
After all that excitement, I need to rest up a bit. We stop at one of our favorite places, an arroyo at Km 23 or so, (has a large biosphere sign in the middle of it). Debbie isn’t up for a long hike today so she stays near the rig while off I go. I do keep close enough to keep an eye, or ears, on her (remember the Bob Cat attack?). Often, I like to do a little bird calling using my ipod which is loaded with bird calls. Setting up with the sun to my back, I hang the little wireless speaker on a branch. In a perfect world, the birds will land nearby and pose for a brief photo-op in the sunlight. I start with a Western screech Owl call and later change to a Black-capped Gnatcatcher. Other birds like to join gnatcatchers to mob owls. The idea is to chase the owl away. I hear a bird in the bushes BEHIND me, in the shadows. Not great for photography because of the low-light, but it’s close enough to shoot this pretty Lincoln’s Sparrow. Good bird for Baja Sur (meaning “not seen very often ((by me anyway)).
And then a bright patch of yellow catches my eye. Oooooo… a Wilson’s Warbler, nice—
I’m day-dazing a little bit and for a moment, I think I’m back in Oregon. That’s because there’s a bird calling, this sound like a zipper with a cold that I often hear in our backyard back home and never heard here on the East Cape before. Take a look at what came to join the gnatcatchers— a Spotted Towhee. Now how cool is that?—
Next, a fidgeting Cassin’s Vireo is hopping around in the background. This little bird often goes unnoticed due to it’s size and ultra-shy manners.
Across from me on my right, back aways from the speaker sits a Yellow-rumped Warbler. You can see why they are called yellow rumped and they seem to be enjoying the abundance of prey the lush habitat affords. This is the “Audubon’s” variety, I can tell by the very yellow throat, wich would be more white in the “Myrtle” Yellow-rumped Warbler.
A seldom seen Warbling Vireo joins the show embarrassing the other birds with it’s singing-
As we say good-bye, we watch an Acorn Woodpecker thats’ obviously enjoying the day. The Oak Trees that grow at this altitude provide acorns that many animals depend on. These nuts are stored in leks to help some birds get through the winters.
“till next time, buen dia from Chris and Debbie and by all means-like us on facebook. It helps us alot.