One of our days in Baja was spent exploring a road that leads into the Sierra de la Laguna mountains in the middle of the peninsula. The drive into the area along Highway 1 was gorgeous.
Eventually we found the road we thought we might want to take that had this sign at the entrance:
Early on we spotted a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Jacob's lifer Verdin.
was mild but steady as we drove the bumpy dirt road, hoping to gain
elevation. A flock of Yellow-rumpeds turned up a Black-throated Gray
We stopped and birded many times without turning up anything too crazy aside from these giant grasshoppers the size of my hand:
made it to a wash that for some reason I decided looked like a good
place to bird. There was even a shady pullout to park in.
walked in the opposite direction of some 4x4 action and quickly found
one of our target birds: the Acorn Woodpecker! Not just any Acorn but
the endemic Baja subspecies (Narrow-fronted) with crazy red eyes.
after finding these woodpeckers I stepped under a shady tree and heard
loud fluttering. After flushing a second bird we figured out it was
Band-tailed Pigeons! Another target. They are supposed to be another
endemic subspecies, Viosca's.
difference is supposed to be a lack of band on the tail but we noticed
another one a bit later in a tree that definitely had a band.
from 1926 states: "The chief distinguishing mark between the two races
is that the Viosca lacks the dark tail band, or at best this band is
only faintly indicated; furthermore the general color tone is slightly
paler in the Cape form."
Anyone know anything about
this subspecies? I put them down as Viosca's because any other
subspecies appears to be rare, though willing to be convinced
This area turned out to be great for lizards in addition to weird subspecies of birds.
found a little creek off the wash and followed it for a bit. Birds
were skittish, as were the horses, but this little frog Jacob found sat
finished up birding this area and decided to head back as it was
afternoon and we wanted to get back to Todos Santos before dark (because
headlights). That evening as I looked at the map I realized what we
had birded was actually an eBird hotspot called San Antonio de la Sierra--Cruce de Arroya Km 16. This was an area we had intended to bird but actually thought we were somewhere else.
The drive back to the main road was a bit birdy and a bit cowy.
are two watering holes along the road, one of which had a coot, the
other had a Black Phoebe with some bonus birds. First a California
Towhee came in to bathe...
Then a Lesser Goldfinch showed up for a drink.
There were other birds around that we could never get good looks at, except for this one that I am still confused by:
Cassin's Kingbirds were common along this road.
Our full checklist from our day is here.
we had more time and had actually known we were on the right road I
think we could have gotten within the range of Baird's Junco, another
Baja endemic. But that's ok, something to come back for!
Now flash forward to our last morning in Baja. We decided to hit up Estero San José as it wasn't too far from the airport and is one of the most birded spots down there.
One of our easy targets here was Common Gallinule, a lifer for Jacob.
More fun birds here included all kind of waders, ducks, grebes, and bold Soras.
There were quite a few of these lizards around which I am guessing are zebra whiptails:
were a few other people out on this trail but not a lot so it was extra
surprising when I heard someone call my name. "Jen from the Backyard
Bird Shop?" Oh man, you can never escape! Turns out this couple that
shops at my work was just beginning their Baja vacation where they
planned to do a lot of kayaking. So random.
We had one last kingbird on this trail that I called a Tropical but looking at it now, I have no clue really.
day was heating up quickly and we eventually made our way back to the
car to head back to the airport. Our half-assed checklist from Estero
San José is here.
Our final tally for the trip was 132 species with 7 lifers for me and 29
lifers for Jacob. We both hit milestones on the trip with me hitting
700 and Jacob hitting 400. Pretty cool!! Looking forward to more international travels....did someone say Costa Rica? Eh?