Baja Sur: Todos Santos (Part one)


When Jacob and I first started planning our trip to Baja we really did not know much about the area so we took quite a bit of advice from Seagull Steve.  He mentioned staying in Todos Santos, a town on the Pacific Ocean side of the peninsula over an hour from the chaos of Cabo.  We easily secured an Airbnb called The Hideaway on the edge of town, close to the known birding spot, La Poza.


This was an excellent choice.

We arrived in Todos Santos after dark and hit up Mi Pueblito for our first delicious meal.  Guacamole on point, tasty salsas, and even vegetarian options!  I have to say overall, finding veg food in Baja was WAY easier than on my previous Mexico trip to Nayarit/Jalisco/Colima.

Finding our Airbnb was mildly challenging in the dark as our rental car's headlights were pointed down for some reason, and the roads can get tricky to find.  The magical door to our casita in daylight:


Our first morning in Todos Santos we woke up early, way before the 6:30 a.m. sunrise.  We had thankfully picked up some instant coffee and various squishy Bimbo products for breakfast, which we enjoyed along with a hooting Great Horned Owl (my first new Mexico bird!).

Once the sky brightened enough we set out for a walk down to La Poza, a small lagoon just inland from the ocean.   As we walked down Calle Pericues we realized that there were TONS of birds in the undeveloped lots we passed and it ended up taking us an hour to get to our destination.

Our first dog buddy


Our first Mexi-rainbow

 Common Ground-Dove


 Ruddy Ground-Dove

We made it down to La Poza and followed the trail around looking for the endemic species, Belding's Yellowthroat.  Common Yellowthroats were irritatingly abundant though plenty of other birds and critters provided entertainment.

 Lizard

Crab

We came around to the northern part of the lagoon and finally found our target bird!


We were only able to find two Belding's Yellowthroats here, and they were the only two we saw on our whole trip.

La Poza

We walked back to the south end to walk the rocky trail back towards "home" and found a very cooperative endemic Gray Thrasher.  I had seen one briefly earlier which was actually kind of a big bird for me- number 700!


Full checklist from La Poza here.

Our walk back to the airbnb was slow going as now birds were out in bright light and ready to be crushed.

Hooded Oriole


 Costa's Hummingbird with pollen face


Anyone know who this is? 


Combo!  Northern Mockingbird, Gila Woodpecker, Hooded Oriole

 Combo!  House Finch, Scott's Oriole

Female Scott's Oriole

On the road Jacob noticed this bizarre little furball running around which he identified yesterday as a Thistledown Velvet Ant.


Back at The Hideaway we started working on our yard list.  A female Costa's ruled the cactus garden and a Zone-tailed Hawk flew right by us.


A Cactus Wren was making wren noise and collecting nesting material along our fence.


Skink on our doorstep!

We headed into town for a tasty lunch at Alma y Manny's and did a little exploring.


After picking up supplies we headed back to The Hideaway and took another walk down to La Poza for the sunset.

 Confiding Cactus Wren


Bad shot of what had been my first trip lifer:  Gilded Flicker

We watched a Zone-tailed Hawk swoop down several times at White-winged Doves perched on a cactus.  Never caught anything and eventually soared up and away.  In the same lot there were Blue Grosbeaks, more orioles and doves, more wrens and woodpeckers, and FINALLY our first horrible views of the endemic Xantus's Hummimgbird.

Blue Grosbeak

We decided to walk a different way down to the beach and where the road ended and the beach began were at least four Xantus's Hummingbirds!


Such a stunning bird!  This was surprisingly the only good views we had of this bird.  We returned to this same spot a few days later and only found Costa's.  Hmm.  Full checklist from our late afternoon walk to La Poza here.

We made it around to La Poza as the sun was setting and a Reddish Egret flew in, then out.


Back at the Hideaway a Lesser Nighthawk zoomed by us very low.  A great end to our first day there!

More to come!  Good times!!!!

Comments

  1. Great post! Many crushes! Stoked you got the yellowthroat and, for the sake of the yellowthroat (very low global population) and good birding, La Poza had water - I guess in recent years it has been really dry sometimes but it looks in good shape.

    That ant is an extremely novel organism. The skink is actually some kind of whiptail, there are several stripey blue-tailed species that colored a lot like skinks. Pretty sure the squirrel is white-tailed antelope squirrel.

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    Replies
    1. Ahh thanks for the lizard correction and the probable squirrel identification. That ant is apparently a wasp, even though it has ant in the name. I liked it quite a bit.

      Interesting about La Poza. It was definitely wet while we were there, but maybe because the rainy season had just ended?

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    2. Yeah I suspect the recent hurricane probably helped give it a refill.

      According to my fantastic infallible Mexico small mammal info source (Wikipedia), WTAS is the only member of the genus on the peninsula.

      Oh and congrats on 700, that is a number worth celebrating! Gray Thrashers forever!

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    3. Gotta love those white-tailed antelope groundies. Huge range - Great Basin to Baja. Think the whiptail's tail is blue because it's a juvenile. I've seen that on our Bay Area species. Same goes for skinks. They lose the blue in a couple years.

      Todos Santos is divine. At least in my 10-year old memory of the place. Thanks for lovely revisit.

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  2. OH how inspiring Jen, You hit 700!! Good going. All wonderful birds, and what a great location away from any hoopla. That Xantus is splendid. That Sugar Doll painted wall is WOW...love it. Look forward to your next installment.

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    1. Thanks, Sondra! I really loved that wall, wish I had taken more pics of it further down the road.

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  3. Congratulations on 700!

    Also congrats on picking a great spot to stay - it looks like it is surrounded by very cool birds and all kinds of interesting non-bird friends!

    Looking forward to reading more about your trip - thanks for sharing your Mexican adventures :)

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