Monday, March 24, 2014

The Boobies Were Real

Ah, Baja. It wasn't that long ago...but sitting here in Harlingen, Texas, I feel very removed from that trip. But a dream it was not...the boobies were real. And so I thought I'd churn out another post before I get overloaded with work and get caught in the deep and fast-moving current that is spring migration on the Gulf Coast.

Unlike Todos Santos, an apparent booby wasteland, Blue-footed Boobies were lusciously abundant in La Paz. They were easy to see from the main waterfront, where these photos were taken.

Plunge-diving birds bring me much need good form if you are going to plunge underwater from great height and expect to catch something. There were also a number of Brown Boobies in the area, but I didn't manage any photos of them.

Being on the Sea of Cortez side of the peninsula, the common large gull in La Paz is Yellow-footed (above), not Western. Western Gulls are puny in comparison to the mammoth Yellow-footed.

Yellow-footed Gull is truly a gnarly beast. I wonder how they would do in a duel with Great Black-backed Gull. Let's hope they never hybridize, for all of nature will be lost.

Here's a young Yellow-footed. Unlike other large gulls, a 3rd cycle Yellow-footed Gull is essentially an adult bird. They grow up fast in Mexico.

Moon Vulture. Photographed at Playa Balandra, an awesome beach north of La Paz.

Ash-throated Flycatcher is a true creature of the scrub. You show me scrub, chaparral, and trees of unimpressive height...and I will show your Ash-throated Flycatcher. Their habitat doesn't change very drastically throughout their range, and it doesn't look that different down by the cape either. Photographed at Playa Balandra.

Atop the coke villa for a sunset, we ooze sexy.

I got my best ever looks at Gilded Flicker on this trip. Photographed in the cemetery at Todos Santos.

Having gorged on sweet sweet sweet Mexican nectar, the flicker contemplates the irony of feasting on bright flowery wonderfulness amid a barren field saturated with human remains. Gilded Flickers, after all, are known for leading a rich and rewarding inner life.

Hooded Oriole seems to be one of the most abundant winter birds in the Todos Santos area. Most of the males were a bit dingy looking...but they are still honorable birds. Todos Santos.

Xantus's Hummingbird...a bird that I saw many of, and a bird that I miss. Sure I can walk across the street today and see Buff-bellied Hummingbirds, but the Trochilid of Xantus lives in a league of its own. Do go and visit them when you have the chance. Todos Santos.

Magnificent Frigatebird doing a Black Skimmer impression at La Poza, Todos Santos. Truly versatile birds.

Moon Frigate. Photographed at Punta Lobos, south of Todos Santos.

Frigatebirds have a habit of furnishing some of the best birding memories. La Poza.

I have taken many frigatebird photos over the years...I think this is by far the funniest. Keep in mind the bird is not directly overhead, it's actually flying low and "standing" vertically in midair.

I do love me some Bonus Herps, although I depend on the kindness of nerds to identify them for me most of the time. This is a Red Diamond Rattlesnake (thanks Natalie).

Ok, here's a mystery lizard that lived at our coke villa in Todos Santos. Any of you cold-blooded folk familiar with this? I also saw a San Lucas Banded Rock Lizard on the side of the house one day, but failed at getting any documentation. It was a crippler though.

Our complete pinche Mexican crew on an ill-fated walk through the desert. It turns out jamming seven people into a tiny rental car doesn't work very well...but thanks to our overheating car, we all got some Wild Ass.


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  2. Sweet stuff Seagull. Your Undead Frigatebirds are the best, though the YFGUs are maybe the most appealing here despite the imminent danger they pose. Thanks for taking risks for the rest of us.

    I think your lizard there is a species of Phrynosomatid, either Desert Spiny or Clark's. They're gorgeous all, and for my money Yarrow's takes the cake.

    "Ash-throated Flycatcher is a true creature of the scrub. You show me scrub, chaparral, and trees of unimpressive height...and I will show your Ash-throated Flycatcher."
    Was that a Dr. Nelson Briefer Esq. reference?

    1. Someone on FB suggested Baja California Spiny Lizard, which looks pretty solid.

      Yeah, I dropped a Brieferism. His craziness is a true inspiration.

    2. Shoot man, you need to be debriefed.

      There's been talk of different style of Big Year lately. Seeing each state bird in its state, or seeing each bird with a state name in the state, etc. Someone should do the Briefer Big Year: Northern Goshawk in all 50 states, including Hawaii.

    3. Its certainly a Sceloporus but my Baja book is still waiting to be unpacked, so I cannot get you to species just yet.

  3. Thank you for so much for your amazing writing. The part about the gilded flicker just made my day!

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  5. Gilded Flicker... such a fucking beauty! Nice entry Steven, I think Texas is making you a better writer. Keep it up! xo

  6. There is too much good stuff here to even comment on. Except that I love obligatory group shots in front of cacti.

  7. Just amazing,stunning post.