Sunday, June 1, 2014

San Carlos, Sonora, MX Day 2

With a great afternoon on day one, I was excited to get out early to visit the estuary, Estero El Soldado.  There were plenty of pelicans around, my favorite bird to watch cruise low over the water.

Pelicano Pardo - Brown Pelican
A few Willets were on the beach.  I'm used to seeing them in dull winter plumage in California, so it was nice to see this individual sporting its slightly fancier outfit.  I love the Spanish name of this bird, Playero Pihuihui, referring to its call and where it hangs out (playa = beach).  In English its call is usually thought of as pill-will-willet.

Playero Pihuihui - Willet
The terns were making a lot of noise at the mouth of the estuary.  I was glad to see a Black-bellied Plover pop into view over the sand, with an actual black belly.

Elegant Terns with a few Royals, Black-bellied Plover, and Snowy Egret
Elegant Terns greatly outnumbered Royal and Caspian Terns.  My favorite thing was watching the Elegant Terns' courtship flight, a very impressive flight display.

Charran Elegante - Elegant Tern
Thankfully the Royal Terns were still in non-breeding plumage with a white forehead so I was able to get pretty good at telling them apart from the Elegants, even without binoculars.

Charran Real - Royal Tern
After watching the terns for a while and failing to get a closer look at a White Ibis, I walked back along the mangroves hoping to see the mangrove subspecies of Yellow Warbler.  They did not disappoint.  Right away I had a pair respond to pishing.  I think it's safe to assume this little guy is an immature male, but guide books don't show this plumage.

Chipe Amarillo - "Mangrove Warbler" 
The female, not shown in guide books either, was a light yellow with a touch of rust on the crown.

Chipe Amarillo - "Mangrove Warbler"
Further along, a gorgeous adult male put on a show at close range.

It's interesting to note that I never get eye-level, close range looks of this species in Arizona.  I'm lucky to see them at all, usually only hearing them high up in the trees.

Another bird that's hard to get long, good looks of is the cardinal.  They never let me get close enough for a decent photo.  This one was found between the mangroves and the beach in some desert scrub.

Cardenal Norteno - Northern Caridinal
Back near the condo I spotted this nice male oriole.  Its Spanish name makes much more sense.  Bolsero Enmascarado means "masked basket-maker" which refers to the basket-shaped nests it builds and its black mask.  I think the black mask on this bird is the distinguishing mark and is worthy of being part of the name, not the orange hood.

Bolsero Enmascadero - Hooded Oriole
Frigatebirds in different plumage could be found throughout the day cruising over the condos.  They never get old to watch and photograph.

Fragata Magnifica - Magnificent Frigatebird
Some day I hope to see one displaying his big red throat balloon.

I went back to the estuary in the late afternoon to see what was different from the morning.  I was excited to see this Whimbrel feeding along the edge of the water.

Zarapito Trinador - Whimbrel
Then I heard a couple Laughing Gulls approaching, a lifer!

Gaviota Reidora - Laughing Gull
There were two pair that were constantly "laughing."  I love the transition of the underwing from gray to black.

Another new bird from the morning was this oystercatcher.  Previously I had only seen them at a distance on a San Diego pelagic to Islas Coronados, so it was a treat to watch one feed at close range.

Ostrero Americano - American Oystercatcher
I wish I had an estuary next door to check every day!  Winter would be a great time to be here when more shorebirds would be expected.  Stay tuned for more from this trip!  Hopefully you won't have to wait so long for the next installment.


  1. What a great trip Jeremy! Mexico is a fantastic place to bird. I didn't know about the yellow warblers/mangrove warblers. These for sharing and congrats on your lifers!

  2. That's beachy!
    Great photos Jeremy. I hadn't heard of Mangrove Warbler before, a new take on Bay-breasted kinda. Very cool, sweet post.

    1. Thanks Laurence! Stay cool up there, we're both going to be around 110 tomorrow, ahhhhhhh!