Shorebirds in the desert
My time here on the Baja has become somewhat limited, so Sunday morning found me up before daylight, and driving over to Conquista Agraria. This is a small community of mostly fisherman, about an hours drive from La Paz, Mexico, on the Pacific Ocean side of the Baja. It is usually a great place to find the traditional migrants that follow the rocky beaches of the Pacific. In addition to the shore side birds, there are several arroyos that run down to the beaches that hold the usual desert birds. My eBird report for two and a half hours Sunday morning contained 41 species, 11 of which I would normally attribute to water based habitats, and the balance traditional dry terrain species. Consider also that I was never more than 100 yards from the crashing waves of the mighty Pacific Ocean through out the mornings walk.
I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed to not get several of my target birds for that area, as I am pretty sure I will not make it back over there before I leave on my way north to Seattle. Snowy Plovers, Surfbirds, and the Wandering Tattler were all “no-shows” But the Sanderling (Below) and Western Gulls were there in nice numbers.
The dry side of my morning did manage to give me every single species I was hoping for, with the exception of one. The Common Yellowthroat, that I have seen many time in this one arroyo obviously did not get the memo that I was coming by that morning. The Loggerhead Shrikes, Gray Thrashers, California Quail, and Black-throated Sparrows (Shown at the top of this story) not only were found there, but all made sure to pose nicely for a picture. Along with Horned Larks, Orange-crowned Warblers, Gilded Flickers, Osprey, American Kestrels, and Cactus Wrens.
Our endemic Gray Thrasher.
This male Horned Lark was a nice addition to my list.
One of the most unique parts of this area, can be seen in the following photos. Great Egrets, wandering around in the sage brush and cactus is actually quite common in this area. Not exactly well camouflaged for that terrain!
This Great Blue Heron is sometimes seen fishing right down in the surf, but today, it was out looking for lizards and other such morsels up in the dry scrub.
Many times, I have seen Black-bellied Plovers up in the chaparral, and sage looking for bugs and seeds, but this is my first time to see a Spotted Sandpiper in this area.
Even the Brown Pelicans soaring out away from the shore just seem to be out of place.
So, for those of you interested in my years running count, after my first week, the total stands at 116 species, with what I consider a realistic count of 45 more that I should be able to get before February 1st and the start of our drive north.