Baja California Norte, 10-19 October 2003


Kurt Radamaker, Bill Tweit, Steven Mlodinow



10 Oct: Rosarito Creek, Cantamar, Rio Descanso, Lagunita El Cipres, El Sauzal, Meneadero, Punta Banda. Stayed at Bay Shores Inn. Good digs, reasonable price. Day was misty. Few migrants, almost all western.


11 Oct: Punta Banda, La Bufadora, Meneadero. Decent seabird movement. As above. Harlequin Duck.


12 Oct: Laguna Figueroa, San Quintin, El Rosario, Catavina. Stayed at La Pinta. Very nice and seemingly out of place in the middle of nowhere. Another slow day for eastern stuff.


13 Oct: Catavina, Laguna Chapala, Villa Jesus Maria, Guerrero Negro. Stayed at hotel in GN associated with tours to Malarrimo. Eastern birds starting to increase. Birding behind La Pinta at Guerrero Negro good. Weather returns to normal. Lewis's Woodpecker.


14 Oct: various spots between Vizcaino Jcn and Punta Eugenia, including Rancho San Jose de Castro, Rancho Santa Monica, Rancho las Girasoles, and Bahia Tortugas. Stayed in latter at Motel Nancy. Cheap, hot water, clean, basic. Slow birding.


15 Oct: as above, but also stopped at Bahia Asuncion and spent more time around Vizcaino Junction. More eastern stuff, plus big numbers of middle to western North American stuff (Brewer's Sparrow, Lark Bunting, Oriantha WC Sparrows, Orange-crowned Warblers). Best birding at Bahia Asuncion and in ag areas around Vizcaino Junction. Bronzed Cowbird.


16 Oct: Guerrero Negro, Villa Jesus Maria, Ejido Morelos, Arroyo Santo Dominguito, Rancho el Descanso, Catavina. Scattering of low end stuff. Catavina remains pretty dead.


17 Oct: El Rosario, El Socorro, San Quintin. Jackpot day. Town of El Rosario along highway very good, fields around El Socorro s. of San Quintin awesome. Red-throated Pipit, Siberian Pipit, Eastern Phoebe, McCown's Longspur.


18 Oct: Punta Banda, Meneadero, La Bufadora. Building on previous day. Good seabird movement. Gray Catbird X 2, Red Fox Sparrow.


19 Oct: Headed home. Half day. La Bufadora, Punta Banda, La Salinas, San Antonio. Back to being very slow, eastern birds disappearing and western migrants increasing.


Species Accounts


Northern Fulmar: 40+ flying around Punta Banda and the mouth of Estero Punta Banda on 18 Oct. Very close to shore on a foggy day; probably many more birds actually present. SM, BT, KR.


Black-vented Shearwater: Max counts of 300 on 11 Oct. at La Bufadora and 17 Oct at San Quintin. BT, KR, SM.


American White Pelican: 1 at Laguna Chapala on 13 Oct seemed a bit out of place. KR, BT, SM.


Brown Pelican: max of 1000+ at mouth of Estero Punta Banda on 18 Oct. SM, KR, BT.


Reddish Egret: 5 on Estero Punta Banda on 10 October is a good local count per Erickson et al. 2001. SM, KR, BT.


White-faced Ibis: 1 at Laguna Chapala 13 and 16 Oct seemed out of place. KR, BT, SM.


Greater White-fronted Goose: 2 flying over and calling at Punta Banda on 11 Oct. BT, SM, KR.


Mallard: 3 at Punta Banda on 18 Oct- noteworthy?


Harlequin Duck: adult Male flying past La Bufadora 11 Oct. SM, KR.

A bird picked out flying north by Steve M. was seen only briefly by me. I watched it flying for about 20 seconds as I finally got on the bird. The white crescents on the face and white shoulder bands were noted. Although I doubt I could have called the bird on my own with the brief views I had, what I did see supports the lengthier views Steve M. had of the bird. (KR)

Harris's Hawk: several as far north as Guerrero Negro.


Swainson's Hawk: one at Catavina 13 Oct (KR, BT, SM) and 2 near Vizcaino Junction 15 Oct (SM, BT, KR).


Zone-tailed Hawk: 3 at Laguna Chapala 13 Oct (KR, BT, SM).


Virginia Rail: 1 at Catavina 13 Oct seemed out of place (SM).


Red Knot: 300 at Estero Punta Banda 10 Oct seemed to be a goodly count (SM, BT, KR).


Jaegers: Max counts were on 18 Oct at the mouth of Estero Punta Banda with 15 Parasitics and 2 Pomarine (BT, SM, KR).


Thayer's Gull: early adult at San Quintin 17 Oct (BT, KR, SM).


Glaucous-winged Gull: one at Guerrero Negro 16 Oct; hybrid GWGU X WEGU also present (BT, KR, SM).


Elegant Tern: Estimated 5-10,000 at Punta Banda and vicinity on 10 Oct (SM, BT, KR).


Least Tern: Late juv. just n. of Guerrero Negro Salt Works in Estero San Jose 13 Oct (BT, KR, SM). As far as we can tell, the bird was just inside BCN.       

We were stunned to see a Least Tern this late in the season (KR)        


Ringed Turtle-Dove: one on Maneadero Plain 10 Oct (SM, BT, KR). One at Bahia Tortugas 14 Oct (SM, BT, KR).


Eurasian Collared-Dove X Ringed Turtle-Dove: 3 at Villa Jesus Maria 13 Oct (SM, BT, KR); had perfect ECD tail pattern, but size, body color, and wingtips all intermediate between ECD and RTD.


Spotted Dove: 1 at Rosarito 10 Oct (KR, BT, SM).


Black-chinned Hummingbird: female carefully ID'd at El Rosario 17 Oct (SM, KR, BT). Sadly not a RTHU.

The blunt squared archilocus p10 was clearly observed (KR)


Lewis's Woodpecker: One in flight at Catvina 13 Oct (KR, BT, SM).

Although observed only in flight the distinctive "floppy" crow like flight pattern and Lewis' wing shape was noted (KR)


RN X RB Sapsucker: One with pure RN Sapsucker at Santa Ines 13 Oct (SM, KR, BT).


LB X Nuttall's Woodpecker: One at Punta Banda 18 Oct (SM, KR, BT).

A scraggly looking Nuttall's/Ladderbacked type woodpecker was studied. The face looked mostly like Nuttall's but the underparts were buffy and the back looked intermediate between LB X Nuttall's. The call was mostly Nuttall's but seemed a little off to me and not quite as strident and clear as I'm used to hearing. (KR)


Eastern Phoebe: one at El Rosario 17 Oct (BT).


Tropical Kingbird: One at Maneadero 10 Oct (SM, BT, KR); 3 at San Quintin 13 Oct (KR, BT, SM); 2 at Bahia Tortugas 14 Oct (BT, SM, KR) with one there 15 Oct; 1 at Ejido Morelos 16 Oct (BT, SM, KR). Seven in all!!!


Western Kingbird: 2 late birds at Maneadero 11 Oct (SM, BT, KR).


Black-throated Magpie-Jay: 2 escapees remain at Punta Banda through 18 Oct (KR, BT, SM).


Plumbeous Vireo: 1 at Rancho El Descanso on 16 Oct (SM, BT).


Gray Catbird: One at La Bufadora 18 Oct (KR, SM, BT) and one at Notre Passing between Punta Banda and Maneadero (SM, KR). These birds were seen about one hour apart and it seems unlikely, though not impossible, that they were the same birds.

The La Bufadora bird was observed at length by Kurt, Bill and Steve. The black cap, black eye, gray body and crissum underparts of this robin sized bird were seen well. (KR)


Red-throated Pipit: 8 at El Socorro on 17 Oct (KR, BT, SM); this count is conservative. There could easily have been twice as many birds.

Several strongly streaked backed pipits with white mantle braces were observed, at least four on the ground together at one time, and the strident "pit seeeee" call was heard several times as birds would fly from field to field. (KR)


Siberian Pipit (aka, japonicus): El Socorro on 17 Oct (BT, SM, KR).


Tennessee Warbler: Singles at Bahia Asuncion 15 Oct (SM, KR, BT) and Punta Banda 18 Oct (SM).


Nashville Warbler: 3 during trip, including one on 18 Oct at La Bufadora which seemed to be of eastern race, though none of us felt confident enough to make that ID firmly.


Lucy's Warbler: One at El Rosario 17 Oct (SM).


Chestnut-sided Warbler: One at La Bufadora 18 Oct (BT, SM, KR).


Magnolia Warbler: One at Maneadero 10 Oct (SM) and one at Bahia Asuncion 15 Oct (KR, SM, BT).


Hermit Warbler: One at Punta Banda 11 Oct (SM, BT, KR).


Blackburnian Warbler: One at El Rosario 12 Oct (KR).

A bright fall male with bright orange face and throat was seen briefly but well. (KR)


Palm Warbler: One at San Quintin 12 Oct (SM, BT, KR) and one at Maneadero 18 Oct (BT, SM).


Blackpoll Warbler: Two at El Rosario 17 Oct (KR, SM).


Black-and-White Warbler: Two at Bahia Asuncion 15 Oct (KR, BT, SM); 3 at Guerrero Negro 16 Oct (BT, SM, KR).

American Redstart: 28 total including 13 at Guerrero Negro between 13 and 16 Oct (SM, KR, BT).


Ovenbird: one at Guerrero Negro 16 Oct (BT, SM, KR).


Northern Waterthrush: 7 total including 4 at Guerrero Negro (BT, SM, KR).


Summer Tanager: One at La Bufadora 11 Oct (KR, SM, BT); 2 at Guerrero Negro 13 Oct (BT, SM, KR) with one remaining on 16 Oct.


Clay-colored Sparrow: most northerly was one at Punta Banda 11 Oct (KR, BT, SM).


Brewer's Sparrow: max of 300 near Vizcaino Jcn on 15 Oct (KR, BT, SM).


Lark Bunting: max of 400 near Vizcaino Jcn on 15 Oct (KR, SM, BT).

At this agricultural location we had some incredible flocks of Sparrows. In addition to 300+ Lark Buntings observed the flock included dozens of Brewer's, several Clay-colored, hundreds of Mountain White-crowneds and a few Lark Sparrows (KR)


Belding's Savannah Sparrow: max of 100 at Estero Punta Banda 11 Oct (SM, BT, KR).


Red Fox Sparrow: one at La Bufadora 18 Oct (SM, BT, KR).


Song Sparrow: One to two at hwy 1 and Arroyo Santo Dominguito s. of Punta Prieta (SM, BT, KR); seems to be at location between Catavina and Sierra de San Francisco populations.


White-crowned Sparrows: Most interesting. Only a few Gambel's- perhaps a bit early. Most southerly Nuttall's were at Catavina (13 Oct). Most northerly Black-lored were 2 at Ejido Morelos on 16 Oct (SM) and one at El Rosario 17 Oct (SM). A stunning 1000 Black-lored WCSPs were near Vizcaino Jcn 15 Oct (SM, KR, BT).


McCown's Longspur: 1 at El Socorro 17 Oct (BT, SM, KR). Awesome views, well photographed by KR (SM's videocamera batteries went belly-up at crucial moments).

As well as the diagnostic features captured in the photo below, the dry "tock tock tock" call was clearly heard (KR)


Lapland Longspur: 1 at El Socorro 17 Oct (SM, BT, KR).

A strongly patterned bird with a chestnut nape and auriculars was observed. The dry "tic" rattle was heard by all


Chestnut-collared Longspur: 5 at El Socorro 17 Oct (SM, KR, BT).

up to five birds were observed in a tight knit flock. The unequivocal "cheedle dee" call was heard several times. In comparison to the McCown's present the CCLOs were slightly smaller and browner (darker) with a heavily streaked back and obscure streaking on the breast. The bill was sharply pointed and black. (KR)


Rose-breasted Grosbeak: Singles at Punta Banda 11 Oct (SM) and El Rosario (KR, SM, BT).

The El Rosario bird was a first fall male with quite a bit of red already on the throat. (KR)


Painted Bunting: female at Maneadero on 10 Oct (KR).

A bright green bird was observed briefly, but well. The Green back and wings, conical bill and yellow underparts were seen well. (KR)


Dickcissel: single at Guerrero Negro 13 Oct (KR, BT, SM).


Bobolink: single at Rancho San Jose del Castro 15 Oct (KR, BT, SM).

A bright buffy individual was observed by all (KR)


Tricolored Blackbird: 55 at El Rosario on 12 Oct (SM, KR, BT).


Great-tailed Grackle: Singles at Santa Ines on 13 Oct (BT, KR, SM) and Rancho El Descanso on 16 Oct (BT, SM, KR).


Bronzed Cowbird: Single at Bahia de Asuncion on 15 Oct (KR, BT, SM).

A Bronzed Cowbird was observed by all, amongst a flock of Brown-headed Cowbirds. The larger overall size, larger bill and red eye were clearly observed (KR)


Bullock's Oriole: singles at Rancho las Girasoles on 14 Oct (KR, BT, SM) and Maneadero 18 Oct (SM, BT, KR).


Baltimore Oriole: single at Villa Jesus Maria 13 Oct (SM, BT, KR).

An immature Oriole with a grayish head lacking an eyeline with uniform light orange underparts was seen well (KR)


Scott's Oriole: single at Ejidos Morelos 16 Oct (SM, BT).