We left Bahía San Quintin in the afternoon and headed for Cataviña. We drove through the Valle de los Cirios (Valley of the Boojums). Boojum trees remind me of a Doctor Suess story with their crazy spikey trunks and wild growth forms. The drive through the valley was pretty spectacular and hot, a true Baja experience.
We arrived in Cataviña around 3. We set up camp at the Santa Inez campground and causally birded the campground while we also rearranged and repacked some of our belongings. We waited for the temperature to drop a bit before we headed out for an evening walk. From the campground we headed down to a richly vegetated wash and found two roosting Great-horned Owls! The Cataviña/San Inez area is a migrant trap during the spring and has attracted hundreds of migrant species, including some really surprising birds. Three Sapsucker species, a Varied Thrush, a Clark’s Nutcracker, and a Dusky Warbler among other wayward birds have shown up at the Cataviña/San Inez wash over the years. We did not see any crazy migrants during out visit, but we did see 33 species. The highlight of our stay in San Inez was the two Lesser Nighthawks that visited our campground at dusk. The two flew in when there was still a lot of light left to watch them in awe as they hunted in circles around our camping, getting so close we could hear their little peenting contact calls as they repeatedly flew and landed within about 10 feet of us. It was a truly amazing experience. That night just before we headed to bed we also heard a Common Poorwill off in the distance.
The next morning we woke up really early to beat the heat and walked from the campground to the main highway in the wash. We saw Gilded Flicker, Scott’s Oriole, Loggerhead Shrike, a Greater Roadrunner warming itself atop a bluff in the first morning light, Black Phoebe, Song Sparrow, Say’s Phoebe, White-winged Dove, Rock Wren, Hooded Oriole, Sage Sparrow, Black-throated Sparrow, Vermillion Flycatcher, Verdin, Cactus Wren, nearly 40 California Gnatcatchers (!), over 10 Bell’s Vireos, many Ash-throated Flycatcher, tons of California Quail, Gray Thrasher, and Gila Woodpecker. Bird activity died down as the morning progressed, so we had a very hot couple mile hike back to camp and then headed south to Bahía de los Angeles.