02/18 - Hermosa

No, that is not a big finger print on my lens.

That's a flock of birds heading west at sunrise this morning (picture taken ~ 2 - 3 mi away from my pation).

Nearly every morning I am out on my patio watching the sun come up and the village spring to life.  Right around (slightly before) sunrise I have notice a large black cloud moving from east to west above the lake.  I've taken out my binoculars quite often and I found out that it was a large formation of dark colored birds heading west toward Jocotopec.  Sometimes they are in round flocks and other times long lines.

I always wondered;
  •  what kind of birds they are?
  •  where are they coming from?, and 
  •  where are they going?
I don't have answers to all three questions, but someone over on Chapala.com gave me a lead on question # 2, where are they coming from.

Over the past couple of years the San Antonio malecon has developed into quite a nice wetland for birds.  There are now hundreds of acres of reeds along the shoreline and they provide a wonderful habitat for all sorts of birds.  I've gone by during the day many times and it is beautiful.

The post on Chapala.com mentioned something about birds leaving from the malecon area at sunrise and returning at sunset, which clicked in my mind as possibly the location my morning flock of birds comes from.

So, I drove on down to the SAT malecon around sunset the other night to see if it was true.  And boy was it true.  

By the time I got there there were already thousands of the birds settling into the reeds for the night, but hundreds and hundreds kept coming, mostly from the east.

They didn't return to the wetland in one, great big flock like I am used to seeing in the morning, but there was a solid stream of groups of several hundred that just kept coming and coming.

The sun was almost down so the wetland was no longer green, but a mixture of browns and golds.  And the sound was eerie, not a lot of chirping or squawking, but a constant hum-like noise that made the wetland sound like it as alive.

Since the wetland covers hundreds of acres, out into the lake and stretching down the shoreline there had to be thousands of birds settling in.

It's hard to see in the picture to the right, but there are more birds in the reeds than there are in the air.  You can see them when they are settling in, but once they are down and settled in you would never know they were there.

I'm sure most everyone has either seen in-person, or on an internet video flocks of starlings, or other birds, and how they make those beautiful murmurations (example).  Well I don't know whether this would fall into that same categor, but it sure was amazing to watch.

Just as the show was about to end and the sun was ready to dip behind a cloud I got to see a small pod of pelicans coming from the west, heading east back toward their evening resting spot, wherever that might be.  I sure hope they weren't heading to Petetan because that's over 10 - 12 miles (as the pelican flies).

Pelicans are beautiful birds and they typically fly in small groups, low along the lake during the day.  This pod was flying high enough that you knew that they were heading home.

And then, before I knew it the sun started to dip behind the clouds, and the sky over the wetland was empty and I guess everyone had found a place to settle in for the night.

It was getting just a little too dark to be able to get any good pictures and since the birds were all down.  I decided to head back to the house.

Instead of hearing the eerie sound, like the wetland was alive, all I could hear was:

"Buenas Noches Maria Elena"
"Buenas Noches niño Juanito"