|Perhaps a little too close to the arches in Cabo San Lucas|
Last year, I took you to Monterey, CA with Debi Love Shearwater. This year, we are heading to sunny San Jose del Cabo in Baja California, Mexico.
This whole trip was based on a crazy happy hour we had a couple months back. So I blame it all on the tequila:) I was with friends Lori and Tami talking about taking a trek to the baja Mexican pennisula. And so it happened.
|Ruddy Ground-Doves are the common doves in San José next to the White-winged Doves|
|As a birder, it's important to get a place close to where you are intensively birding. Our place was located along the Riparian area making it SUPER easy to wake up and bird.|
|a nice example of a Ruddy Ground-Dove|
|a cooperative Sora|
|a small kettle of Turkey Vultures hang out in a section of the Estero of San José del Cabo|
|the endemic Gray Thrasher|
|One of many Orange-crowned Warblers seen in the estero|
As we got closer to where the ocean meets the mouth of the river, I noticed more birds. The trails were in better shape and we were able to navigate into really nice birdy areas.
I forgot that the Ridgway's Rail and Least Bitterns can be found down there. I really tried for photos of a Least Bittern but it snaked its way into the reeds quickly before my camera could focus. The Ridgway's Rail could only be seen with binoculars at the far edge of the river. We couldn't get closer because of the hurricane damage on the path. In fact, we had to be careful with the loose ground near the edges of the river. If the ground had given out, I probably wouldn't be drinking my coffee and writing to you all now because my arm or leg would be in a cast:)
|a Turkey Vulture perches on some fallen trees from last month's hurricane in San José|
|female Belding's Yellowthroat|
So to understand the word "Yellowthroat", birders KNOW that any warbler that carries the name, Common or Belding's Yellowthroat, will be difficult to photograph. I thought I'd have difficulty with the ID on these similar looking birds but here's what I learned. 1. We had both Yellowthroats at this location. However, there were more Belding's present. 2. These warblers are very vocal and it helped us zone into the area where they were feeding. Their call is different and sorta reminded me of a wrenish rattle. I was able to successfully record the male calling. We were able to watch these secretive warblers with our binoculars. 3. They are overall very YELLOW. The male has a black mask similar to its relative the Common Yellowthroat. But it was their call and deep yellow coloring that caught our attention. We observed one pair in a nesting territory for about a half hour. After that, we went to an all you can drink event on the beach to celebrate our success and um....enjoy our vacation.
|Don't do it guy! The current is TOO STRONG!|
|Some fun cliff diving in Cabo San Lucas at Pelican Rock|
|This Osprey watches over all of us during our pelagic|
|A Wandering Tattler flies into view for a few seconds|
|Striped Shore Crab|
|This sea lion attempts to sleep but the crabs taunt him|
|an ancient looking Brown Pelican|
Anyhow, I love Anthony Burdain from the various food networks and his constant search for secret local culinary delights. One night on our way back from Cabo San Lucas, I smelled something really good. I saw many locals all gathered at this hole-in-the-wall restaurant in a random neighborhood outside of the historic San José del Cabo district. The kitchen was run by a smiling Celia Cruz type and I had a feeling that this place was something special. The next night, we went back to investigate and I asked our waiter what was it that everyone came to their restaurant craving. He laughed at first and then realized I was serious. The next thing I knew, he brought me the most delicious PAPA RELLENA.....a stuffed potato. And. It. Was. Good!
My heart lit up again. I felt the fire rekindle inside of me. I missed my Mexico. I've missed it so much. I missed being around fun and wonderfully polite people who just chat! Where it's okay to say "hi" to a complete stranger and not have the other person think you're insane. I had forgotten how incredibly rude some Americans can be.......no. That's wrong. I haven't forgotten how rude Americans are. I had become immune to it! I hate where this country is right now. It's embarrassing. I hate the hatred and division this so called clown has created between Republicans and Democrats. And here's a little personal observation. While on my flights, everyone I sat next to began talking about this idiot. I swear to the gods that I never brought up the topic. I didn't want to...but I've got this strange presence that allows people to open up to me. They needed someone to listen. And I listened. The US is not in a good space right now.
And in Mexico? Well, they would start talking about this cheeto puff as well! As an unofficial ambassador, I reminded them that he doesn't speak for most of the country. Then I switched the conversation to birds:)
Color is everything. Mexico IS color. There is color in the food. With her people. With her culture. In the language. In her wildlife. It inspires me and many many others. Mexico recharges my battery and reminds me why our neighbor to the south is pretty awesome.
We had a blast. This crew in the pic above is awesome. They are genuine, down-to-earth, and know how to vacation properly. Work out/bird in the morning. And then, explore! And have a good time. I needed this trip more than I knew.
Here are my checklists in case you are interested in exploring the San José del Cabo area which includes the birder's paradise Estero San José. From the airport, San José is about 20 minutes away. Don't pay the 50 bucks they quote you inside the airport! It's cheaper taking the busses or a taxi outside the terminal! Have courage and you will have saved yourself money! People will pester you. Just get out alive with your luggage! As for Cabo San Lucas. It's about 45 minutes away by bus or taxi. For 2 bucks, catch the Ruta del Desierto bus from San José. But bring plenty of water to stay hydrated. Alcohol doesn't count:) Cabo San Lucas isn't for everyone. If you want quiet, stay in San José or at the resorts that lead up to Cabo San Lucas. In a year or so, I'll plan my next trip back to the town of Todos Santos and schedule a visit to the Sierra de la Laguna area of the mountains for the rest of the endemics.
For the reports on California/Pacific Coast birds, Baja Endemics, and waterbirds for the month of October from Estero San José, click here(Day 1) and here(Day 2).
For the pelagic birds from Cabo San Lucas, click here. Life doesn't wait. In the next couple weeks, we're going to get our cold on. Stay tuned for more......