Puerto Penasco, Mexico, known by many as Rocky Point, Mexico. Really hard to start this post as I really am not sure where to begin. Spent 3 days and 2 nights in this splendid ocean community. Guess it could be called Arizona's closest beach with sand. Just a wonderful little get away where life is much more relaxed and a place to turn off one's electronic devices such as cell phones (roaming charges will add up quick!). I did visit this spot about 3 years ago, but it was a short visit and most of our group was more into shopping and not birding. Finally got the chance to go back this year and this time got to spend more time birding. Being from a land locked state of Nebraska, many water birds were easily new life birds for me and with advanced guidance of a few experienced birders in Arizona, I had a great time and came away with 12 new life birds.
Arrived fairly early on a Wednesday and it was cloudy (which is very unusual) and windy, and I spent my time birding around the fishing boat docks and near to downtown. Sea gulls of many different species thrive here and they could be found all over. Many of them were juveniles and for novice birders, these birds can be very difficult to identify. Many species take up to 4 years to finally molt into their adult plumage, and they can look very different from year to year before they reach adulthood. Then to make it even more confusing, some of these species seem to be a bit promiscuous and will hybridize quite readily which just adds more confusion to the identification process. I decided to spend my time only trying to identify adult birds and leave the juveniles to the more experienced birders.
First birds I saw were large numbers of Eared Grebes on the water feeding on the fish in the clear water. While I have seen Eared Grebes before, most usually in their winter plumage, most of these were all decked out in their breeding plumage and they are quite striking. They were very active in diving for fish and the water was so clear that I was able to somewhat capture a photo of the fish in the water which they were feasting on.
Also located a Heerman's Gull along the rock near downtown. The red beak is unmistakable.
Both the Heerman's Gull above and the California Gull below are 4 year gulls indicating they need 4 years to completely molt into their adult plumage and both of these are clearly 4 years old.
After spending some time downtown we returned to the condo where we were staying and and I spent some time in the later afternoon under the dark and gray skies on Sandy Beach. It was approaching high tide and it was at this time that I discovered 2 of the birds on my 'want' list right on the beach following the waves that were rolling in and out. The first birds were a pair of Sanderlings and they were very active probing in the sand and while I was trying to capture photos of them a pair of Surfbirds flew in nearby and actually were spending time in and around the Sanderlings. I was able to get both species in one photo. The Sanderlings are the smaller, whiter looking birds.
Later on as it started to turn to dusk and the waves were a full high tide, the gulls flew in and became very active and it took a while, but I finally found out the reason. There were some fish coming in on the waves and beaching themselves in the sand and the gulls were feasting on those they could catch. Not sure of the species of fish, but did manage to capture a photo of some of them and also a photo of one of the gulls that had caught one and it proceeded to swallow it whole. The gull appears to be a a 2nd year Ring-billed Gull which are smaller than those earlier in my post. The Ring-billed Gull is a 3 year gull instead of a 4 year gull and they are all over down in Rocky Point.
So far this was just the first day at Rocky Point and the 2nd day which will be posted later was even more memorable.