Birding from VdF: Sierra de la Laguna

Sierra de la Laguna as seen from SJD International Airport

Sierra de la Laguna and its highest point, El Picacho, as seen from SJD International Airport

Check out my last post for an introduction to this series and to read about the San José Estuary.

Down here at the tip of Baja California Sur, some part of the Sierra de la Laguna mountain range can be seen pretty much from anywhere with a good view inland. In fact, when you land in the Cabos airport, it feels next-door. When we were last here at Villa del Faro in July, Jocelyn wrote about some spots in the southern region of the Sierra Biosphere Reserve, and for our second trip last week, we visited the north (the middle is the most mountainous, with no access roads that we know of, just 6-hour hiking trails).

eBird hotspot map for the northern region of Sierra de la Laguna

eBird hotspot map for the northern region of Sierra de la Laguna

About two and a half hours from Villa del Faro via the coastal road to the north, past Cabo Pulmo and Los Barriles, the entrance to the northern foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna Biosphere Reserve at San Antonio de la Sierra is off of the main highway, Route 1. Starting right there, eBird has a hotspot (the top-most green point above) with over a hundred species reported in a hundred checklists, including some of the Baja endemics, and plenty of migrant warblers and vireos from the west coast of the US.

Follow the dirt road from the entrance for almost an hour, and you’ll reach an immense arroyo, or seasonal riverbed that looks like a wide strip of sand, called El Chayo (the lower of the two green points together). When we were there, plenty of water was flowing through, and a big group of Acorn Woodpeckers was calling from the tops of trees that grow along the banks of the arroyo, while migrant Yellow-rumped Warblers foraged in the lower canopy.

Boulders and hills as seen from a crest in the road before reaching Arroyo El Chayo

Boulders and hills as seen from a crest in the road before reaching Arroyo El Chayo

Apart from serving as a more diverse habitat for wildlife, with different types of vegetation at varying elevation, the Biosphere Reserve also provides plenty of great mountain views and a glimpse into the “ranchero” life of Mexicans in Baja California Sur, since you’ll drive past many different ranches on the way.

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