Birder's Guide

JAN 2019

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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43 January 2019 | Birder's Guide to Travel Bloomfield, New Jersey rwright@aba.org Bloomfield, New Jersey alberinger@gmail.com Rick Wright Alison Beringer n The famous sea arch near Cabo San Lucas is just a short drive west from San José del Cabo. The wild beauty of southern Baja California is best appreciated anytime other than mid-March, when the area is swarmed by spring breakers. Photo © Michael L. Retter or the most part, we find that "target birding" ranks with sunbathing and barhopping high on the list of vacation pas - times we'd rather avoid, but we could not go to Baja California Sur without seeing the colorful and rare Baird's Junco in the rugged Sierra de la Laguna. Thanks to the expert guidance of Gerardo Marrón, that decades- long dream came true in spades, leaving us plenty of time for more relaxing excursions into the countryside—and for easy walks around San José's best, and best-known, birding hotspot, the "estero", the broad mouth of a massive arroyo that leads from the mountains to the beach, where it widens into a flat marshy lagoon dammed by the low dunes of the Sea of Cortez. W e were prepared to be disappointed. Nearly two decades ago, in his still-un- surpassed Bird-Finding Guide to Mexico, Steve N. G. Howell lamented the devastation of the estuary, its vegetation, and its birdlife by de- velopers, and little that had been published on the web meanwhile inspired any more hope: hotel construction and hurricanes, we read, had reduced the Estero San José to a pitiful shadow of its once-thriving self. Not true—or at least not obviously true to birders from out of town with no rosy, you- should-have-been-here-15-years ago memo- ries of the place. We found the estero pleas- ant and productive on every one of our walks, easily tallying up to 70 species in a leisurely morning, and neither the grossness of the surrounding "resort" hotels nor the inacces- sibility of some spots affected by past storms can change the fact that this remains a very rewarding site for repeated visits. Dire warnings to the contrary, the cattail and rush thickets fringing the estero still shelter gratifying numbers of Belding's F

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