Tuesday, December 20, 2016

On my way to work.......

Early this morning, on my way to work I spotted this nice little Snowy Egret catching breakfast right along the rock wall here in the Marina. Nice lighting, nice pose, just not so much fun for that little fishy!!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

My first holiday posting

In order to get the holiday season kicked off, here is a link to my story on 10000 Birds.


There is some fun pictures from my trip out Sunday morning

Saturday, November 19, 2016

White-faced Ibis

One of the full time residents of the Baja, and the La Paz area is the White Ibis. This all white bird has a close relative, in the White-faced Ibis, which is very dark in color, with a greenish gloss on the main body. When this bird is in it's breeding plumage, it has a white vertical crescent on the face.

While there is an occasional White-faced Ibis that summers over, the bulk of the ones that we see are migrants that return in the winter. While in San Jose Del Cabo last week, I got to photograph a few of these beautiful birds.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

whats up there?

I got this very fun shot of a Reddish Egret, and just had to share it!  What is it looking for?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Todays story on 10000 Birds

I posted todays story on the 10000 Birds website. It covers the San Jose Del Cabo estuary, and all the great species of birds there. I was able to stay for only two hours, but I feel like I got some great pictures. I also got a very rare bird for this area, and a new lifer!!  Check it out..

Tom's Story on 10000 Birds

Friday, October 28, 2016

Returning Terns

Another of our relatively common migrants here to the La Paz area, are the Elegant Terns. Thru-out the winter we will have quite a few of the Elegants as well as a large number of Royal Terns. The Elegant Tern is recognized by the slightly lighter in color, as well as slightly slimmer bill than the Royal Tern. The nap, or dark feathers that run from the top of the head to back, near the neck are a little longer on the Elegant than the Royal as well.

In the last couple of weeks, we have had a lot of Elegants start to show up on the sand bars and edges of the bays. This photo is a section of a sand bar nearly 150 yards long, so it is hard to show the whole thing. 

These slim, approximately 17" birds feed by diving into the water to catch small minnows. Catching one of these very fast, relatively small birds, while diving is quite a challenge..

They will hover....looking for that perfect little morsel...

Then, dive straight down....

Here is a shot just milliseconds before hitting the water

Hoping to get there before the minnow has a chance to dive out of harms ways.

After a few little snacks, it is off to the sand bar or rock piling to stretch out, get dry and perhaps take a nap!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Laughing gulls

One of the cool looking gulls that live in this area, are the Laughing Gulls. They represent less than 1 percent of the gull population in the La Paz are, but with their springtime plumage, the completely black head, they do stand out.

Once the fall (non-breeding) season gets here, the plumage changes to the more drab, boring colors, that in many cases make identification a little more challenging.

Here is the spring (breeding) plumage

And here is what they look like now.

Just to show the difference, here is a Franklin's Gull, in spring plumage. The biggest identifier is the much broader eye arcs, where the Franklin's are thinner.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Playing catch up

This that time of year that all of our cruising customers all return to Mexico. This just plain keeps us hopping, so, I now I am playing catch up with my blog. I have managed to get out for a morning here and there to do some photography work! Over the next few days I will post several of my favorites from the two weeks!

Many of the migrant birds, that went north for the summer are starting to return. Unfortunately, they are coming back in their less than vibrant summer plumage. Oh well, it is just nice to see some new birds showing up!

This Long-billed Curlew is a great example of a newly returned bird

In this photo it is joined by a Willet on the right and a Short-billed Dowitcher on the left

The tide was way in so some of the birds just choose to roost in the tops of the mangroves
Here is the White Ibis

And this beautiful bird is the Great Egret

Friday, September 23, 2016


At some point, it just seems like I have seen every bird I am going to see, and start to get an itch to move on to more fertile birding grounds. Sure enough, just about that time, it happens, a new bird shows up from out of no where. It just happened for me. Right after the hurricane, there have been several species in this area, that, while not new to my "Life List", have not been common either. On my most recent shoot, I found way more warblers, very small colorful birds, that I ever have, anywhere here in Mexico. In with this horde of warblers was a pair of Mac Gillivray's Warbler. Not only did I get to see them, but I even got some decent pictures as well!

Here is the male

And, as is much the way of the bird world, here is the slightly more drab female!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

10000 Birds story

My weekly story was posted on 10000 Birds yesterday afternoon. It covers a some of the warblers that I found out at Presa Buena Mujer. One of which was a brand new Lifer for me!

Here is a link to the story and photos!!


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

It's all about the light.

In virtually all photography, the one biggest concern is the light. The lack of it, too much, or where it is coming from. When I am pursuing birds, the amount of light as well as location are very critical for me. Not enough light, my pictures are too dark, or I have to make adjustments to my camera that will allow the photo to happen, but the quality will suffer. The first two hours of the day, the last two hours of the night are what is considered "The Magic" hours. For me, I never want to take a photo with the light behind my subject, or "Back Light" as it ends up being just a black silhouette, with no color of features coming thru.

Of course, for every rule, there are exceptions, and her are a few of mine.

I took this early Saturday morning. This Belted Kingfisher, was looking for breakfast.

On the Saturday morning, right after the Hurricane, I made a trip to the reservoir and found this Great Blue Heron, resting on the top of a cactus.

This Great Blue Heron was found sitting on the break water just before dark...

Sunday, September 18, 2016

One bird, now two!

As many of you might know, the actual number of bird species in the world is a fluctuating number. The coordinating organization, American Ornithologists’ Union is constantly reviewing the species, for genetic and vocalization differences, or similarities. Some species are found to have more than one actual species being listed under one name, or the direct opposite, they might find that two or more species listed, are actually all the same bird.

In the last few weeks, these splits have effected bird species right here on the Baja. The Clapper Rail, is now called the Ridgeway's Rail, but just in this area. And just recently, the Western Scrub Jay has been split, with the two new species being the California Scrub Jay, and the Woodhouse's Scrub Jay. How can you tell these new species apart?  Where they are found is one of the easiest clues. California scrub-jays principally live in the  coastal regions from Washington to Baja California and up into the western slope of the Sierra Nevada. The Woodhouse’s scrub-jays range from the Great Basin and the Rocky Mountains down to the Chihuahuan Desert.

I have actually been able to see both of these new species, but only have photos of the "new" California Scrub Jay. The two pictures below I took on Saturday Morning

Friday, September 16, 2016

Getting back to normal.

The clean up is done, and life is pretty much back to normal here in La Paz after our visit from hurricane Newton. I have been able to get out a couple of times, mostly to assess the damage to some of my regular birding spots. For the most part, everything is in pretty good shape, a few trees down, some road damage due to the heavy rains. But....there are still a lot of birds, and several of which I have not seen for a while.

Early this morning I took a trip out to the Reservoir, mostly just to hang out, and see what I could find. There have been a large number of Xanthus's Hummingbirds, and I thought I might be able to get a few new photos of this rather uncommon endemic species. While there  were certainly were a few Xanthus's around, there were a huge number of birds, and a few I have never seen in this area before.

 This Black-throated Sparrow came down to the lake for a quick drink and a bath.

I had not seen any of our local Gray Flycatchers since last winter, but got to see several today around the lake.
This is only the second time I have been able to locate Black-headed Grosbeaks.
This female Hooded Oriole made a trip down to the waters edge to get a drink as well.
And of course, there were some Xanthus's Hummingbirds.


Thursday, September 8, 2016

The morning after...

As I am sure many of you already know, we had a pretty significant hurricane hit the Baja Monday night/Tuesday morning. Hurricane Newton was a CAT 1 hurricane with 6-7 inches of rain, 50 MPH winds with gusts to 85 MPH,

Since my main priority is the boats that we manage, and are responsible for, birding had to take a back seat for a few days. I did get out Sunday morning for a Birthday brunch, with a  trip to Gran Sueno, or Bahia Muertos as we all know if to have been called. I wrote a quick story about that morning  here.     http://www.10000birds.com/birthday-brunch.htm?doing_wp_cron=1473372877.7838120460510253906250

As the storm rolled in Monday night, I was up all night patrolling the docks, checking on the boats, the lines and the boats that were next to the ones I am responsible for. If they are not prepared well, then they could come loose and do huge amounts of damage to the boat next door, so to speak.

I have often wondered exactly where the birds go, when these wind events show up?  I got my answer, at least where on particular Black-crowned Night Heron spent the night. It was a very hard night for all concerned, and this little heron was no better off than I was. It had tucked it's self tight up against the head wall to the marina. By the time the storm was over, it was soaked, cold, and more than a little unhappy! But later in the morning, I saw it fly away, ready to face what ever the next day would bring it!

I finally nicknamed him Newton, for the storm that was giving both of us such a bad night.....so, here is Newton, The Night Heron.

Here he is tucked in away from the left to right wind.

And here is a close up of our hero!!

Friday, September 2, 2016

A big surprise!!

For several weeks I have seen what I thought was a Peregrine Falcon flying over our marina. It just blows by quickly and I never know where they are going. A few days ago, I was walking outside the marina, and heard a bit of chirping in the rocks over my head, and knew exactly what it was. A NEST!! This beautiful pair of Falcons had established a nest in some very cool eroded sandstone cliffs near the marina.

Just a couple of hundred yards from the marina, there are some very interesting carved cliffs, that were formed when the Sea of Cortez was quite a bit deeper than it is now. 

These incredibly fast flying falcons(up to 70 MPH when chasing prey) were nearly brought to extinction before we realized what the effects of DDT did to the birds. When they ingested a bird, mouse or large insect that had DDT in it, the worst cause was when the female laid her eggs, the shells were so thin that just flying in and out of the nest, the eggs would break.

I have marked on the following picture where the Peregrine Falcon is, as well as her nest site!

And here is a close up of the nest, well as close as I can get with a 400 MM lens.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A few saturday pictures!

I was finally able to get out for a few hours Saturday morning, and while there were not a lot of birds about, I did get a couple of nice shots!

These two of the endemic Xanthus's Hummingbird are fun!!

I have not seen to many Phainopeplas lately, so this was a nice surprise...

But the biggest surprise of the day...week, ah heck, lets say the month was seeing only my second every Zone-tailed hawk!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Common Gallinule Story

I have posted this weeks story on 10000 Birds about the Common Gallinule, or Moorhen as many of us have known them as. There are some nice photos of both adults and a few new babies!  Check it out!


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

You know, every family has one!

Remember Uncle...(you fill in the name) who always shows up for the holidays...and just gets blotzo...well, the Guadalajara Zoo has theirs as well!! This Orangutan was wide awake, but could see no real need to muster up much energy!!