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Puerto Penasco

24 August 1998

by Dick Palmer

This is a summary of a trip taken on August 22nd and 23rd, 1998 to the seaside town of Puerto Penasco at the northeast corner of the Gulf of Califonia in Sonora, Mexico.  There were three of us who went down this year, Brian McKnight, David Morrison and myself, Richard Palmer.

Major areas visited during the 2 day trip included Sonoyta, (just across from Lukeville, AZ) Cholla Bay, Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point) and the various sites accessed from the main road towards Caborca.  See last years trip report (dated 26 September 97) for more detailed directions and additional information to the sites.  Copies are available upon request.

The large-billed form of the Savannah Sparrow had a good year this year.  They were very easy to find in the tidal basin at Cholla Bay.  Blue-footed Boobies and Brown Boobies were numerous and easy to find also indicating a good year for them.  Perhaps the most surprising birds were the numerous Sooty Shearwaters feeding very close to shore and easy to observe with a scope.  Many of them rested on the water close to shore at Cholla Bay on the south side of town.  The Sooty Shearwaters were flying by at the rate of about 10 per minute indicating a major passing of the species with 600 per hour estimated.  Also noted were good looks at Black-vented Shearwater and scope looks at Black Storm-Petrel.  Who says you have to go on a pelagic trip to see sea birds?

I had always thought of Black Tern as being primarily a fresh water species but the 4000 plus feeding along the salt water beaches and estuaries has definitely changed my mind on this species.

The rarest bird of the trip would have to be the Northern Waterthrush which allowed careful scope looks for an extended length of time at the Puerto Penasco sewage basins east of town.

Also nice to find, especially for me, was a single Bank Swallow migrating south at Cholla Bay.  This species had eluded me in Mexico for 25 years.  (Probably due to the timing of my trips to Mexico more than anything else.) I was pleased to add it as number 747 to my Mexican list.

Next month the species list will be quite different if one were to go again.  Missing were many migrants yet to arrive.  Several species of shorebirds, grebes, loons, gulls and ducks are yet to arrive.  I look forward to doing another trip sometime later in the year.

12,100 birds of 109 species noted in the 16 hours of birding the area.

Species List:

10 Pacific Loon Gavia pacifica
36 Eared Grebe Podiceps nigricollis
650 Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus
9 Black-vented Shearwater Puffinus opisthomelas
3 Black Storm-Petrel Oceanodroma melania
150 Blue-footed Booby Sula nebouxii
490 Brown Booby Sula leucogaster
400 Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis
1 Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasilianus
4 Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus
24 Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens
18 Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias
8 Great Egret Ardea alba
3 Snowy Egret Egretta thula
1 Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
4 Green Heron Butorides virescens
1 Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
21 White-faced Ibis Plegadis chihi
10 Black Vulture Coragyps atratus
100 Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura
18 Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
5 Cinnamon Teal Anas cyanoptera
4 Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata
12 Redhead Aythya americana
80 Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis
21 Osprey Pandion haliaetus
3 Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis
7 American Kestrel Falco sparverius
23 Gambel's Quail Callipepla gambelii
12 American Coot Fulica americana
60 Black-bellied Plover Pluvialis squatarola
6 Snowy Plover Charadrius alexandrinus
1 Wilson's Plover Charadrius wilsonia
26 Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus
8 Killdeer Charadrius vociferus
90 Black-necked Stilt Himantopus mexicanus
110 American Avocet Recurvirostra americana
1 Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca
12 Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes
300 Willet Catoptrophorus semipalmatus
7 Spotted Sandpiper Actitis macularia
8 Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
54 Long-billed Curlew Numenius americanus
61 Marbled Godwit Limosa fedoa
16 Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
3 Black Turnstone Arenaria melanocephala
3 Sanderling Calidris alba
1 Semipalmated Sandpiper Calidris pusilla
85 Western Sandpiper Calidris mauri
11 Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla
48 Long-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus scolopaceus
3000  Wilson's Phalarope Phalaropus tricolor
8 Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus
225 Heermann's Gull Larus heermanni
25 Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis
5 Herring Gull Larus argentatus
1000  Yellow-footed Gull Larus livens
12 Caspian Tern Sterna caspia
28 Royal Tern Sterna maxima
40 Common Tern Sterna hirundo
20 Forster's Tern Sterna forsteri
10 Least Tern Sterna antillarum
4000  Black Tern Chlidonias niger
60 Rock Dove Columba livia
75 White-winged Dove Zenaida asiatica
65 Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura
12 Common Ground-Dove Columbina passerina
2 Greater Roadrunner Geococcyx californianus
3 Burrowing Owl Athene cunicularia
11 Lesser Nighthawk Chordeiles acutipennis
12 Gila Woodpecker Melanerpes uropygialis
2 Ladder-backed Woodpecker Picoides scalaris
1 Flicker species Colaptes species
1 Pacific-slope Flycatcher Empidonax difficilis
1 Say's Phoebe Sayornis saya
6 Western Kingbird Tyrannus verticalis
8 Loggerhead Shrike Lanius ludovicianus
12 Bell's Vireo Vireo bellii
45 Common Raven Corvus corax
4 Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris
2 Purple Martin Progne subis
20 Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis
1 Bank Swallow Riparia riparia
10 Verdin Auriparus flaviceps
12 Cactus Wren Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus
1 Bewick's Wren Thryomanes bewickii
1 Curve-billed Thrasher Toxostoma curvirostre
3 Crissal Thrasher Toxostoma crissale
20 European Starling Sturnus vulgaris
9 Phainopepla Phainopepla nitens
12 Lucy's Warbler Vermivora luciae
6 Yellow Warbler Dendroica petechia
1 Northern Waterthrush Seiurus noveboracensis
1 MacGillivray's Warbler Oporornis tolmiei
8 Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas
9 Wilson's Warbler Wilsonia pusilla
1 Yellow-breasted Chat Icteria virens
31 Savannah Sparrow; Large-billed form. Passerculus sandwichensis rostratus
19 Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia
4 Black-headed Grosbeak  Pheucticus melanocephalus
4 Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis
1 Blue Grosbeak Guiraca caerulea
7 Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus
17 Yellow-headed Blackbird Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus
35 Great-tailed Grackle Quiscalus mexicanus
15 Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater
28 House Finch Carpodacus mexicanus
30 Lesser Goldfinch Carduelis psaltria
60 House Sparrow Passer domesticus

12,100 birds,   109 species

Dick Palmer
370 South Avenida de las Sabinas
Green Valley, Arizona  85614-4701  USA