A Birding and Beach Getaway
The Estero de San José del Cabo, located at the southern tip of the peninsula of Baja California, Mexico is the only freshwater coastal lagoon in the State of Baja California Sur. It has long been an important refuge for birds, other wildlife, and people. In 1994 it was designated a State Ecological Reserve. It is also recognized as an Important Bird Area in Mexico and a Sonoran Joint Venture Focus Area. The 1166 ha Reserve is surrounded by the town of San José del Cabo, agricultural lands, and many tourist developments, which pose challenging threats and obstacles to the estuary’s conservation and making it even more important to the region’s birds.
The Estero de San José del Cabo is a unique oasis in the arid environment of the Cape District and the largest remaining area of suitable habitat for the endemic and critically endangered Belding’s Yellowthroat. It is also an important wintering site for the endangered Least Bell’s Vireo, an important nesting site for the threatened Least Tern, and a stopover site in the migratory route of many waterbird and shorebird species. Other important bird species in the area include the endemic Gray Thrasher and Xantus’s Hummingbird, Virginia Rail, White-faced and White Ibis, Yellow-crowned and Black-crowned Night-Herons, Green Heron, Least and American Bitterns, Snowy and Wilson’s Plovers, and Gray Vireo.
Habitat: Freshwater marshes with reed beds including cattail, or tule, giant reed, fan palm, date palm, ragweed, and adjacent marshy growth.
Best Seasons to Visit: Year-round
Amenities: There are few amenities at Estero de San José del Cabo, visitors should be prepared with ample food and water for the day. There is a well marked hiking trail around the Estero.
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At the Estero de San José del Cabo, researchers from Pronatura Noroeste and the Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada, Baja California – CICESE, along with other partners, have been working to help protect the Estero de San José del Cabo Ecological Reserve, with a special focus on the status and distribution of the Belding’s Yellowthroat. They have developed a Species Action Plan, outlining needed conservation actions for the survival of this endemic bird, as well as a Conservation Area Plan, to include priorities and responsibilities for action for the long-term management of the estuary.