When you travel north of La Paz, Mexico, staying on the Sea of Cortez side of the Baja, you will encounter the phosphate mines of San Juan De La Costa. The first 35 miles of this trip are all on a very nice, two lane paved highway. After you pass the mine, things change quite a bit. The road becomes a minimally maintained dirt road, with a well developed, brain jarring wash-board like surface. The topography looks like it is right out of an early John Wayne movie. Steep canyons formed by the seas erosion, multi-colored striations that reflect the light, all bordered by the blue colors of the Sea of Cortez. I have to give photo credit to my wife Jeanne, as the image used as the feature for this story was taken by her.

There is very little fresh water, at least to be found year round, but the bird populations all seem to do just fine. Exploring one of the rugged, 4×4 side roads, my wife and I ran across a very nicely treed little valley that ended up against some steep protective rocks. Setting up camp, it became quite apparent that I was going to like this place.

The load levelers were barely set on the trailer before we had Northern Mockingbirds visiting.

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The desert flowers at the edge of our camp in were in bloom, attracting the Hooded Orioles, Costa’s and Xanthus’s Hummingbirds.

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Ash-throated Flycatchers, Gray Flycatchers, Verdin, Loggerhead Shrikes and Vesper Sparrows all came for a visit the first evening we were there.

Ash Throated Fly catcher


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Zebra-tailed Lizards, Splotch-sided Lizards, Orange-bellied Skinks and Desert Iguanas are quite common in this area, so the American Kestrels were too.

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In some short hikes around the area, Black-throated Sparrows, California Quail, Harris Hawks, Gila Woodpeckers, and Greater Roadrunners were quite abundant. There were several Phainopeplas as well.

black throated sparrow


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Despite the fact that we had set up camp in a very dry, desert setting, the beautiful blue waters of the Sea of Cortez was less than 400 yards away. We saw lots of Brown Pelicans, Osprey, Magnificent Frigatebirds, Yellow-footed Gulls, Brown and Blue-footed Boobies as well as a some terns that were fishing too far out to get a proper identification

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Yellow Footed Gull (3)

While this new camping find of ours was not as easy to get to as others that we regularly visit, it certainly was fun to find such a nice variety of birds.

Written by Tom Brown
Tom Brown grew up in the high desert area of central Oregon. His love for birds and photography started at a young age. Thru the course of time, travel, and a lot of different occupations, he ended up living in Seattle, and met a girl with a sailboat. When he is not scouring whatever area they are in, looking for the next great bird photo, he can be found trying to earn enough money for the next adventure, and of course, a new lens or camera body! Having been nick-named “The Bird Nerd” by his last remaining friends and family, Tom continues search for that next lifer, and the accompanying photo that goes with it. Find his continuing adventures, photographs, and guiding opportunities at Focus on Feathers.