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Whales of Baja
Highlights from the Field (2014)

San Ignacio Lagoon: Our Wild Spirit Journeys March 2014 trip was spectacular with lots of close encounters with gray whale mother and calf pairs. This year, the whales seemed to be hanging around the lagoons late into the season and reportedly there were 224 whales in the lagoon. Our group was thrilled by the moms' eagerness at bringing their young calves to the side of the boat. (We felt like maybe Mom was bringing them over to get a break for themselves! Mothering is hard work with any species!)
In the daytime, ospreys flew overhead, often with fish in their talons. Coyotes, those stealthy thieves of tennis shoes, visited the Whale Camp at dawn and dusk. At night, we stood by the shore and took in the sounds of surf and softly spouting mothers and calves in the upper lagoon.

Birds of Baja: Every trip is different. This year, many of our travelers were eager to observe the birds of Baja. We scheduled a bird watching excursion in the Loreto region and saw 52 species. For some of us, we were delighted with the shore and sea birds at both San Ignacio Lagoon and at the estuary near our Loreto hotel. Among the birds we observed and photographed were: snowy egrets, great egrets, reddish egrets, yellow- and black-crowned night herons, ospreys, white ibis, tricolor heron and a belted kingfisher. From the boats, we saw pelicans, tropic birds, magnificent frigates, blue footed and brown boobies, loons, two species of cormorants, and brant geese.

Cave Paintings: This was the first year we visited El Ratón cave. It is amazing to gaze up (way up) and see huge paintings on the undersides of very high ledges. Paintings included the half black-half red human figures, antelope, and a black cat that represents either a jaguar or a black puma. The picturesque drive to the caves through the canyons was spectacular. Around every turn was a photogenic view. Blossoming boojums dotted the landscape for an unusual treat.

Loreto Bay: You never know what you'll see in Loreto Bay. A couple of years ago, it was a huge blue whale (they can get to eighty feet in this region, one hundred feet long in others) that hung around us for several hours. This year, we again saw leaping bottlenose dolphins, as well as some of these gregarious dolphins riding the bow (soon out in video!). We'd never seen the short-fin pilot whale until our boat approached a lively pod just at the edge of Loreto Bay. They were breaching and spy-hopping, with the huge males on the outside edges of the "chorus line"—just like they describe in the whale identification guide.

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