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Rich Hoyer on his just-completed tour, Mexico: Baja California's Cape Region

March 07: Rich Hoyer on his just-completed tour, Mexico: Baja California's Cape Region

This year’s Baja California tour was highlighted by lots of birds everywhere and delightfully pleasant weather, providing a perfect escape from the wintry climate dominating our homes up north. Both hummingbird species received top votes for favorite bird, as we had exceptional views on our last morning of a male Costa’s with his shining lavender helmet, and the endemic and gorgeous Xantus’s, below, was particularly confiding this year in several locations.


Belding’s Yellowthroat and Gray Thrasher were two more regional endemics getting high votes, the latter seen on multiple days and extraordinarily well. One morning, a pair fed on the shoulder of a back road through the desert while we watched from within the van just a few feet away.


Our wonderful experience with a pair of “Mangrove” Yellow Warblers was hard to beat, and so even this more widespread species received a number of votes.


The relaxed pace of the tour allowed us to do a bit of exploring, birding a reservoir and a marsh that locals told us about, and stopping to admire the plant life, such as this Desert Unicorn Plant, Proboscidea althaeifolia.


We also saw some endemic reptiles, such as a water snake, a turtle, and two lizards, and turning a bit of trash in the desert near Puerto San Carlos revealed an endemic hairy scorpion, Hadrurus concolorous.

We spent a full morning hiking to higher elevations in search of the Sierra de la Laguna specialties, and seeing one and hearing three more “Cape” Northern Pygmy-Owls was a highlight.


An unusually large concentration of over 20 Crested Caracaras along one highway demanded an impromptu stop for an irresistible photo op.


The boat trip on Magdalena Bay was more challenging than usual, thanks to a third consecutive day of unusually persistent north winds, but the numbers of birds and fabulous desert scenery made it worth while.


And of course we had enjoyable views of several Gray Whales – perhaps up to 20 around us over the course of an hour, with one spy-hopping at very close range and another doing a double breach, allowing for a lucky photo.

Posted: March 07, 2018