Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Conquoista Agraria beach getaway

We took advantage of the break in our windy weather, and Jeanne's birthday and enjoyed a long weekend on the western side of the Baja. You might have seen my previous post from our scouting trip over there, making sure we would be able to get our trailer  "Casa Poquita" over there, and back!

From a birding sense, this is s pretty unique area, as it has long white and black sand beach, a larger enough surf break to entice several surfers, open sage brush type area, a grassy plains type area, some mangrove and a coconut palm grove. All this diversity in a 4 square mile section!!

I will post a bird species list at the end of this post, but a couple of highlights for me were to revisit the Wandering Tattler, Several Surfbirds, Snowy Plovers and a decent population of Horned Larks.

Despite all the fun, unique birds, I am pretty sure my favorite shot of the weekend, and right up there for 2016 is this shot of a Western Scrub Jay. This was one of a mated pair who were hanging around the open grass to scrub - thorn bush zone.

In most field guides, and to  my experience as well, the farthest south that we find Horned Larks is Guerrero Negro, about half way down the Baja. I was several hundred miles south of that point when I ran across this patch of chafe, grass and sage that was home to about 20 Larks. They work pretty hard at being secretive, but in this same 200yd x 200yd patch that they were calling home, was also a late evening feeding area for a half dozen Black Bellied Plovers. In working my way up to get some grassy area shots of them, I discovered the Horned Larks. And what a fun surprise that was!
This little guy just kept showing off the top of his head, like " see how cool I look" so I just felt I needed to put that shot out there.

It was also a great treat to get some quality time with  a very small group of Snowy Plovers. I chased them, not literally, all over the beach at Morro Bay, California, but here they were very mellow.

I also got to spend pretty much as much time as I wanted hanging out with three Surfbirds. They pretty much stayed with in 100 yards of the same rocky, wave crashing point, and they did not seem to put out that I sat there for several hours watching them eat, sleep and just sit there
Here is the afore mentioned Black-bellied Plover.....but this shot was taken down on the beach.
This was a fun shot that I got of the Orange-crowned Warbler. They too are out looking for mates, so there is a lot of bush top singing going on.
There is a very healthy populating of Sanderlings all up and down the beach, and even up in the dunes, and short cheat grasses. But the pictures taken down by the water just seem more....well, correct
Another of the birds that was very active is the partner search was the Green-tailed Towhee. They seemed to be in every bush I walked past, but were much less willing to be photographed. In the end, my patience won them over!!
I always enjoy listening to the raucous sounds of the Cactus Wren. This was part of a mated pair that were starting to work on a nest
A few of the more common birds that were in the area, the Least Sandpiper....
The Spotted sandpiper.....

And the Semi-palmated Plover.

There were both Ruddy and Black Turnstones....The Black Turnstones did a lot of flying by, not never did stop. I have a very fun shot of them flying that I will post later. This Ruddy was part of a group of 6-7 that wandered up and down the beach

Here are some more of the Sanderling...resting quite happily despite the roaring surf that was crashing near by.
At first light every morning there was a pretty solid marina layer of clouds, so I was not able to get the quality shot of one of the many Ospreys that actively fish right in front of our campsite. This guy caught a fish so big he struggled for quite some time to get it air borne and then up over the ridge to it's nest.

Just as we loaded up the Durango, and hitched up the trailer, this beautiful Peregrine Falcon swooped down thru the cactus. I would like to have had some more time with him, perhaps a bit better shot but....well, you can't get them all!

There were quite a few sparrows in the area, and to be honest I had a terrible time identifying them. Most were a bit lighter than I remembered, or had a bit different pattern. The gloomy marine sky muted many of the colors and made for a challenge getting some good shots.......so some of them are still being worked on.  The Savannah Sparrow below was pretty common.

This one I am pretty sure is a Grasshopper Sparrow, but I am open to suggestions.....Drop me a note, leave a comment, tell me what you think.
So here is a quick list of the species that I saw while we were in the Conquista Agraria area.
Ruddy Turnstone
Black Turnstone
Wandering Tattler
Semi-palmated Plover
Horned Lark
Clay-colored Sparrow
Magnificent Frigatebird
Brown Pelican
Yellow-footed Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Vesper Sparrow
Orange-crowned Warbler
Western Scrub Jay
Northern Mockingbird
Loggerhead Shrike
Cactus Wren
Spotted Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper
American Kestrel
Red-tailed Hawk
Common Ground Doves
White Winged Doves
Savannah Sparrow
Grasshopper Sparrow
Purple Finch
Tri-color Heron
Great Blue Heron
Hooded Oriole
Scotts Oriole
Snowy Plover
Black-bellied Plover
Turkey Vulture
Marbled Godwit
Costa's Hummingbird
Xanthus Hummingbird**  seen in an arroyo about a mile north of the area.


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