Birds and Whales in San Ignacio

John Symons

Photo: John Symons

Neotropical birds and gray whales have more in common than the fact that they can both be found in the San Ignacio lagoon each winter/spring. They both migrate south in winter and north in summer. They both depend upon the smallest invertebrates to fuel their journey. El Nino Southern Occilations (ENSO) create La Nina and El Nino weather patterns and they each have a dramatic effect on many species, including birds, whales, and humans. Effects can be felt around the word in very diverse ways: changing water temperatures, varying precipitation distribution, and fluctuating air temperatures. The species that depend upon the smallest invertebrates are affected the most – birds and whales. Also, when the arctic ice sheets recede the whales must swim farther for food, and therefore can arrive at the breeding lagoons as ‘skinny whales’. For the birds, when the salinity changes due to increased ice melt (typically during El Nino years), the conditions become favorable for small inverts rather than their preferred krill. But the birds can afford to be more flexible, their wings allow them to search out many different ecosystems.

There have been over 225 bird species identified in the San Ignacio Lagoon alone, some of our favorites are: Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe,  American Coot,  Cape-Pygmy Owl, the Yellow, Yellow-rumped, Orange-crowned and Mangrove Warblers; Verdins, Green herons, Phainopeplas, Vermillion Fly-catchers; Ashy, Black, Least, and Leach’s Storm-Petrels; Caspian, Royal, Elegant, and Forster’s Terns; Peregrine Falcons, and Gila Woodpeckers! Cross through the Vizcaíno Desert where Crested Caracaras, Red-tailed and Harris’s Hawks fill the skies from the palm-lined oasis town of San Ignacio. Visit the coastal and riparian environments of Loreto, home to the Blue-footed Boobies, Cactus Wrens, and the endemic Xantus Hummingbird and Grey Trasher.

Come check them out on an incredible trans-peninsular bird watching trip that begins in San Diego. We escort you across the border in a luxury bus and meet our private plane, a Cessna Caravan twin engine beauty that will whisk us to the San Ignacio Lagoon. There we whale watch for a few days and then we cross over to the Sea of Cortez, checking out all kinds of habitats that house a very diverse array of bird species. Trip ends in Loreto, a charming town on the Sea of Cortez. March 22 – 30th – $2295 per person – min 10 max 12. Click to see a detailed trip itinerary.

Click here for more information on migratory birds.