Sonora, Mexico January 17-28, 2014
What better than a mid-winter vacation on the beach in Mexico to shake off the cold and gloom? Answer: some birding during said vacation. The estuaries on the west coast of the mainland in Sonora shelter a great mix of waterfowl, waders, and shorebirds in winter. At Estero Soldado just outside San Carlos, we were treated to close-ups of Roseate Spoonbill, Tricolored and Little Blue Herons, American Oystercatcher (with that brilliant bill color matching that of its orbital ring!), Wilson's Plover, and Long-billed Curlew to name a few. The nearby bay hosted the usual Blue-footed and Brown Boobies, Common and Pacific Loons and Yellow-footed and Heerman's Gulls. A Mexico first for me was a juvenile Red-throated Loon at the southern edge of its' wintering range. In the coastal desert scrub we were treated daily to the dentist drill display call of Costa's Hummingbird, already acting very territorial in mid January. The local sewage ponds harbored various wintering ducks as well as Common Gallinule and Groove-billed Ani. The second half of our Mexico time was spent at the Navopatia Field Station on Estero Agiabampo near the Sinaloa state line. Our hosts, Sallie and Adam, graciously let us park our 1989 GMC van by the station on the north end of the estuary. While most of the species seen at the estuary near San Carlos were here, there were additional birds such as Gull-billed Tern, Whimbrel, and some very vocal Clapper Rails. A nearby abandoned ranch that included a pond and a most impressive fig tree, provided some fun land birding with some species normally found a bit further inland such as Happy Wren, Greater Pewee, Streak-backed Oriole, and Northern Beardless Tyrranulet. The surrounding desert provided us with great looks at Rufous-winged Sparrow, Harrris' Hawk, and Bendire's Thrasher. Unfortunately our vacation time passed quickly and we needed to return to the states. Our last stop in Mexico, at a bosque just 40 miles south of the Arizona border, rewarded us with great looks at Painted Redstart, a species we will see in southwest New Mexico in a few short months. Kind of a preview of coming attractions!