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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Page 47 of 67

Birding Baja 46 Birder's Guide to Travel | January 2019 sion fee of $8 (U.S.) is unjustifiably steep, but appears not to apply to those entering from the beach. It is a long and not especially pleasant walk back to town on busy Cabo Este. In- stead, we retraced our steps to the beach and back past the Holiday Inn to the abandoned parking lot where we started. It was once possible to walk through the now-flooded picnic area to reach the west - erly portions of the estero, and one morn- ing we watched a young man do just that, the water up to his waist; we declined to follow his example. It's more comfort - able (and more hygienic, given the source of some of that water) to drive or walk around the corner and north about 250 yards on Calle Boulevard Antonio Mijares, watching for a wide dirt road that goes through the fence to the right. There is parking just inside the fence, at the foot of an inscrutably placed observation plat - form, or it is possible to drive another 100 yards to the edge of the estuary. The dense scrub between Calle Boule- vard Antonio Mijares and the estuary is well worth birding carefully. Our January mornings there turned up nothing rare or unexpected, but these thickets were often crawling with wintering passerines, among them good numbers of Wilson's Warblers. Spectacular and well-named igneus North- ern Cardinals, Black-headed Grosbeaks, Cactus and House wrens, and Western Tanagers added sound and color while Ospreys, Magnificent Frigatebirds, and White-faced Ibis flashed past overhead on their way to the estero. With so many birds to see, it can eas- ily take an hour to work your way out to the sunny sidewalk leading north along the water. For the most part, the views into the estuary—very narrow at this point— are clear, but every few yards a clump of cattails or rushes emerges; with patience, these can be very good spots to see Beld- ing's and Common yellowthroats, and they provide shelter for Green Herons, both wintering birds from the north and resi- dent individuals of the still poorly known subspecies frazari. A t the north end of the sidewalk is a small complex of dusty corrals with an arena. It was here that we found singing Gray Thrashers, and a shifting constella- tion of Common Ground-Doves, Yellow- headed Blackbirds, and Cattle Egrets fed at the horses' feet. This area, apparently un- affected by the floods that have destroyed the southern stretch of sidewalk once leading to the submerged picnic grounds, n The cattails and reeds fringing Estero San José are a great place to photograph Belding's Yellowthroat. Photos © Michael L. Retter Continued on page 48

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