Saturday, May 24, 2014

Cabo Bound!

Surf at Todos Santos, on the Pacific side of Baja California Sur
(Photos by Narca)

All these years, and I had never visited Cabo San Lucas at the tip of Baja California –– until now!

The resort scene is, shall we say, overwhelming. By all means, avoid the time-share sharks! These predators lurk even in the inner sanctum of the airport, where unsuspecting travelers disembark. It's hard to find your pre-arranged shuttle, without running the gauntlet of time-share hucksters.

Marina at Cabo San Lucas

However, the nearby rugged desert ranges and seacoast are beautiful and serene. Birders come to Baja for three primary reasons: Xantus' Hummingbird; Belding's Yellowthroat; and Gray Thrasher, all species endemic to Baja California.

Gray Thrasher, a Baja endemic

Of the three, Gray Thrasher is the most widespread, occupying most of the Baja peninsula. To find the hummingbird or the yellowthroat, one must journey to Baja California Sur. (Tough work, but someone has to do it!)

We are based in two places about a half-hour apart: first, Cabo San Lucas at the very tip of the cape, with easy access to the Pacific coast; and later, San José del Cabo, near the airport, and on the Gulf of California.

Natural arch at the very tip of the cape, Cabo San Lucas

From Cabo San Lucas, we explore the countryside up to the village of Todos Santos, about an hour north of Cabo. Here we glimpse a Xantus' Hummingbird, but the best looks come later, at Miraflores.

Along the route to Todos Santos, we stop at kilometer 80, and explore back roads which run toward the mountains. This stretch of desert habitat is home to California Gnatcatchers, Gray Thrashers, Verdins, Northern Caracaras, and other typical desert birds.

This California Gnatcatcher wouldn't sit still!

Gray Thrashers look like Sage Thrashers with big bills.

Verdins are as common here as in Arizona's desert.

A Northern (Crested) Caracara finds a prickly perch.

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