Saturday, June 2, 2018

Estero El Soldado

Originally I scheduled a trek out to San Pedro Island, but the water was too choppy and the trek was cancelled.  These things are to be expected during hurricane season. So I followed up on Plan B, the mangrove estuary of El Soldado between San Carlos and Guaymas. 

If a birder is looking to get away and enjoy the beach life for a bit, s/he should check out San Pedro Island, the El Soldado Tidelands(or Estero El Soldado), and along the rocky beaches of San Carlos. 

When the island trek was cancelled, I started going over this area with my friend Tami because there were several requirements for our group on this day.  A little bit of swimming, drinking, eating and hiking along the water's edge.  The Estero provided all of those things easily.  

There was a resort nearby that also had gardens.  And birds.  Lots and lots of birds.  There were ocean ones, and coastal ones and garden ones.  And MANGROVE ones!

Genus Callinectes
 It's not often I get to bird a mangrove living in the desert.  And it often shocks me to know that even in the harshest of climates, the miracle of a small mangrove can happen in the craziest of climates. For a moment, I was transported to the tropics.  In fact, San Carlos and Guaymas are truly the beginning ranges of neotropical birding.  It is here we find such wonderful birds like the "mangrove" Yellow Warbler, Mangrove Swallows and Great Kiskadees.  It is exciting. 

Ocean birds won't disappoint either!  While none of these birds were lifers, they were a thrill to see again.  

Royal Tern
One of my favorite groups of the birds, the gulls, were in good numbers.  Terns, Royal and Elegant, were also seen in good numbers along the coast. 

As I laid under these palms while the group went out for a swim, I watched the world pass by me.  I closed my eyes to the cool shade breeze and smiled.  We all agreed that this was a great way to kick start the summer.

Laying on my back, I aimed my camera up into the air and shot pics of birds flying just several feet above me. 

I loved this place so much that next time, we're staying down here in the resort along the estuary.  

A Magnificent Frigatebird hung right over my head in hover mode, defiant against the strong winds. I love these birds.  You could see fleets of these air pirates off in the distance over the rocky coastal crags.

And while this was an excellent birding spot, our group was humbled by an observation between the estuary and ocean.  An adult Brown Pelican defended a recently deceased fledgling/juvenile and tried protecting the body from intruders like beach walkers and vultures. Nature can be very cruel, even from within the artificial boundaries of "paradise".  We like to humanize things when we see such terrible moments in the animal world.  But to watch this adult defend this lifeless body made us a bit somber. 

The thing I love about birding now is that when I see something like this, I have a deeper understanding of the bird world.  Our human side says, "See! These creatures do have emotions!" My scientific side says its instinctual.  Maybe they're both right. There are so many "experts" out there and they all have their professional opinions.  For me, the important part was to gather notes on this observation and learn. 

I heard someone say that they were going to chase that Turkey Vulture away.  Then it was time to explain to that person that nature has to play out.  It's not the Turkey Vulture's fault that the fledgling died.  It has to eat as well.  They are Mother Nature's natural garbage disposals. They play a role as well.  Most of you know this but for those of you who don't, here goes. Why don't Vultures have feathers around their heads?  Well if they eat dead and rotting things, then having feathers would be a bad thing.  They'd pick up diseases and bugs, etc from the carcass.  So no feathers.  Nature is cool!

This summer is going to be an absolute thrill.  Two months of exotic trails on different islands will hopefully yield lots of new and interesting birds. My first trek begins in a few weeks to Trinidad and Tobago.  I need this vacation after this stressful Spring. Much like my Monterey, CA trek a few years ago, I'll be in a private cabin at the Asa Wright Nature Center for a week.  Then I've rented a wonderful apartment in Arima for other area visits.  I can't wait to get out of this heat!

For the Estero El Soldado checklist, click here.  Summer is just beginning and it's time to cross the 1000 bird mark. Can we achieve it this summer?  Stay tuned for more!


  1. What a great post and love the shots over your head. As you say vultures do a fabulous job of clearing up but sad about the fledgling. Have a good day Diane

  2. What a truly amazing place - no wonder you wish to return. The photo of the Royal Tern is just beautiful and so sad reading about the Brown Pelican defending its deceased young. Enjoy your next trip and I look forward to reading all about it.

  3. A beach fix sounds divine right now, birding or not.


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