Sunday, March 30, 2014

Baja Mexico trip Recap

Gray Hairstreak

I've been home a few days and it's great to be home but I am missing the nice sunny weather.  I am looking forward to better weather coming to NJ in the next few weeks and with it the start of spring migration.

In Mexico I was fortunate enough to add 14 species of birds to my life list including Hooded Oriole, Scott's Oriole, Pyrrhuloxia, Gila Woodpecker, Cactus Wren, Phainopepla, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Horned Lark, Crested Carcara, Brant's Cormorant, Western Kingbird, Gilded Flicker along with the 2 endemics Gray Thrasher and Xantus's Hummingbird. In total I saw 46 species of birds and many species of butterflies many of which I still need to ID.  There were 4 iguanas seen each living in it's own Cactus.
(left) Costa's Hummingbird

Orange-crowned Warbler

Fritillary - most likely Gulf or Mexican

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Cabo ~ The last morning

I am sad to leave Cabo this morning especially as it meant a long day of travel with arrival back in Philadelphia to a snowy scene.  Here I am enjoying the view from their rooftop deck and looking over to the cactus that are by the house.

Ash-throated Flycatcher

Cassius Blue

Monday, March 24, 2014

Cabo ~ Last evening at Paloma Village

Behind on the the house's at the village was a Verdin's nest with Papa Verdin bringing food into Mama Verdin who must be sitting on eggs as I heard no chirping from the nest.  Papa goes into a tunnel to take the food to Mama.  Really neat to watch the process.

Sunset over Cabo looking from Kathy and Jack's roof.

Tropic of Cancer

Visiting Los Barriles ~ a drive up the coast

We were to take a trip to Los Barriles last Friday but unfortunately Diane was ill so our trip was postponed until today.  The scenery was beautiful as we drove along the coast by the Sea of Cortez.  While we drove up I saw many Turkey Vultures catching thermals in the sky and then suddenly off to my left there was a Crested Carcara.  It was a great sighting and a life bird for me.  Just wish it had staying in view longer.  Our first stop was at Buena Vista Hotel.  This was first opened in 1976 and is a sport fishing designation that Al had stayed in years ago.  It is beautifully landscaped due to an underground river of natural hot springs that flows into the Sea of Cortez.  The hotel is famous among the Los Cabos residents for it's collection of hibiscus and other tropical plants in the middle of the Baja desert.It was very exciting to walk down to the beach and see about 40 Magnificent Frigatebirds flying just overhead.  One of the Frigate's dove into the water just in front of us.

Then we drove a few miles further to visit the area around Los Barriles.  We stopped at the RV park where Kathy and Jack stayed the first few years they stayed in Mexico.  The Playa Norte RV camp is right on the Sea of Cortez and is really awesome.  The drawback is it's about a 2 hr drive from getting supplies so they moved in close to Cabo.  While here we also drove up into the mountains nearby and down to the sea on the opposite side.  Then we drove along the coast to get back to Los Barriles before heading home.  That drive provided me with my last life bird - Brandt Cormorant's in breeding plumage.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Cabo ~ early morning birding

When leaving the village this morning I saw several of the chipmunks I've been seeing and today I was able to get a pictures of one of them.  They sure are quick little devils.  Then I saw more of the Gilded Flickers (below) that I have seen so many of this week.  This was another life bird for me.

Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

Greater Roadrunner

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Cabo ~ Visiting the marina

This afternoon we decided on a visit to the Marina and planned to have dinner there. Saw lots of Brown Pelican's, Double-crested Cormorants California Gulls and one Cattle Egret.

Cabo ~ more early morning birding

Another great morning of birding with more life birds including Horned Lark and this Phainopepla.

Ground Dove
Long-tailed Skipper

I was lucky enough to see a Black-headed Grosbeck in the Palm Desert area last fall but never had as long looks at it as I would have liked. Here in the village there have been a number of the Black-headed Grosbecks with great looks.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Baja's Elephant Tree

Mexico has some really cool trees called Elephant Trees.  They remind me of the River Birch tree in the States with it's peeling bark.  Some of them would be great for staging family pictures.  They grow very thick trunks.

Cabo ~ Birding Village Paloma

This morning I decided to start later and bird just around the community where I was staying.  I'd already met several people who were happy to have me visit the grounds around their houses.  These pictures were taken by the pool.  I was sitting watch the iguana when the Verdin flew in to see on these flowers.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Dinner ~ True Mexican Restaurant with friends

Cabo ~ Birding in the morning

Kathy and Diane are up early each morning to take a 4-5 mile walk into the hills around Cabo.  They leave at 6:30 AM and return about 8 AM before the heat of the day.  I decided rather than walk with them I wanted go birding and see what birds I could find.  The bad part about walking this early was that the sun was unfavorable to taking many pictures as it was in front of me rather than behind me.

It was exciting to see lots of Cactus Wrens including this one on a tulip tree just inside the gates of Village Paloma.  I saw about 16 species of birds including some new life birds ~ Scott's Oriole and Pryyhuloxia.

Scott's Oriole


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sierra La Lguna Mountains ~ visiting Marco, the potter

After coming back from fishing it was time to eat breakfast before our next adventure.  Kathy and her friend, Diane had ordered some pots and bowls from a potter, Marco. Today was the day scheduled to pick them up.

Marco is a famous potter who is known for his bowls and other pottery.  Our destination was high in Sierra la Laguna mountain range.   As we drove north along the highway my friends tell me about other visits to the mountain home of Marco's along with the times they have gotten lost.  The mountains and peaks are beautiful against the desert sky standing about 7000-ft tall and stretching from the tip of Cabo north towards LaPaz. 

We leave the highway, going onto a series of dirt roads that lead up the mountain.  My friends tell me the road's much better than the last time they'd been up the mountain and feel that it has been graded recently. Nothing is marked and there is a heated discussion as to whether we take 3 rights and a left or 3 lefts and a right.  Along the road we see cows and goats grazing in the scrub.  We meet up with a caballero coming down the mountain and ask if we are going the right direction.  He is unable to help us and we forge on.  We past several memorials along the road.  My friends tell me that these are where someone was killed and that the Mexican's honor their dead by building a memorial and bringing religious items, candles and flowers.  I am concerned about the car making it over the roads and rocks.  Finally, we arrive at a small church next to where another potter lives. Her yard is full of butterflies on the trees and hibiscus.

Mexican Yellow's with White Angled-Sulphur
We stop and buy a few items there before going going the road a short distance to Marco's house.  It's marked by a rock with his name on it.

Marco shows us the pots he has finished.  He explains that he collects mud for the pots only at the time of the full moon.  The mud is a special red clay and all of the pots are made by hand.  The pots are fired in 2 kilns he's made at the back of the property.  His pots have a thick bottom and can be used right on a gas range.   I am also shown the kitchen his sister uses to cook their meals.  It is outside the main living quarters. She cooks over an open fire. I am amazed at her abilities.

In their yard I again see several species of butterflies.  In the back they have a fenced area that holds several small pigs.  There are California Quail running along the hill and Turkey Vultures up in the sky. We see a lone Greater Roadrunner.

Mexican Yellow

Ceraunus Blue