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!
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...
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
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.
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.
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.