Traveling north of La Paz, Mexico, the terrain starts to look very much like an old John Wayne Movie. Box canyons, long arroyos, and rolling desert vistas, accented with several different kinds of cactus. This, all bordered by the crystal clear waters of the Sea of Cortez. This diversity makes for a very unique birding experience. One where you get to enjoy the many different local desert birds, right along side the birds that make the warm salt waters they home. Northern Mockingbirds, Gray Thrashers, Xanthus’s Hummingbirds and Loggerhead Shrikes being viewed at the same time as you get to enjoy Brown Boobies, Blue-footed Boobies, Elegant Terns, Magnificent Frigatebirds and Tri-colored Herons.
This is such a beautiful part of the Baja, but it is some what spoiled by a huge phosphate mine. The traffic this cause’s is is a good reason to keep a watchful eye open when driving the dirt roads that lead to this area, as it can be quite congested with delivery trucks and personnel buses. When my wife and I started to explore this area, we were blown away by the incredible geology, and rock formations, but quite dismayed at the way the land is being stripped. This huge operation continues to operate, but recently has been moving away from the roads and public access.
Despite the eyesore that is this mine, the wildlife continues to thrive in this harsh environment. In addition to the hundred or so species of birds I regularly find here, there are Desert Foxes, Bobcats, Mountain Lions, Desert Bighorn Sheep and Mule Deer. Here are a few of the birds we spotted last weekend.
Of course, our Northern Mockingbirds are one of the ever present desert finds.
A rather uncommon Scott’s Oriole.
And one of my favorites, the Xanthus’s Hummingbird.