Friday, February 4, 2011

Guide Report - 6 day bus trip: Jan 28-Feb 2nd

If someone said to me that I would have to pick my favorite experiences at CAMPO CORTEZ, it would be "muy difficil", to be sure. The Laguna San Ignacio Wetlands is situated along our beautiful Pacific Coast. Placed perfectly in the middle of the Baja Peninsula (California). The Vizcanio Biosphere Reserve is part of this whole area: "Whale Sanctuary of El Vizcanio". Of course we know of the lagoons for the meeting place of many of our Pacific Gray Whale, with many nick names one being "The Friendlies." They definitely did not disappoint. Friendly they were. And this is early in the season. Each day was better than the last if that is possible. The meals were outstanding,(Muchos Gracias to the lovely Katy 1, Maldo and the kindness and assistance of all the incredible staff at camp.

Let us not forget Francisco & Roberto as out perfect Ponga Drivers and Spotters) the weather couldn't have been better. Evenings had a slight chill at times followed by nice breezes mid day. The Wind came up a few mornings and was a distant memory by noon. Let's get to the WHALES. The latest count had been done that week (Jan 25 with 76 Adults, 35 Calves bringing it to +111) and it was true to form. Although the tides were pretty low most of the days, you were able to see the open end of the lagoon with a pretty consistent rate of blows to count. Quite a few Cow/Calf pairs and many pods of three's and a few mom's with another Adult in tow. Could have been a Male lingering or another Female moving right along with her and a calf.

We witnessed the typical behaviors of the Pacific Gray Whale, although there wasn't anything typical about them. Spy Hopping, incredible Breaches, logging and even semi-head stands (tail-lobbing). Some Fluking and a considerable amount of rolling right off the side of the boat. Some days the Great Gray would follow right along with the Ponga only to meet up with us and allow us to rub and scratch her and put our hands in her mouth to touch her Baleen. Sharing her calf, pushing her up for us to see. One day, a calf decided to stay with us while mom was moving out. The calf circled the Ponga,(our small boats- the Katy 2), attempted a spy hop and off it went. On another day we had a whale at every point of the clock. On each side of us, behind, in front, where to look? We were showered more than a few times by the blows followed by significant bubble blasts. At one particular point a mom had come over to the Ponga rolled over and went directly under us, just lying there. We all looked at each other waiting to see if she was going to continue on. When she finally did, her calf had moved in front as if to lead the way.

She gave a short spy hop with her calf on her back, amazing sight to take in. On another day, we also experienced a very close breach right off our bow as well as a very, very close spy hop. Although we were there to share with the Gray's let us not forget the Biosphere and all the other incredible animals that call it home. Not only did we have wonderful "Close Encounters of the Whale kind", we had ones of the "Dolphin kind", the Tursiops, Bottlenose Dolphin was in it's usual curious and playful mode. Many fish, rays, shell fish as well. Back at camp, the protected Osprey did not disappoint,any where from 2-4 osprey would be flying over, foraging for lunch. Baja California Sur is home to something like 17 different coastal bird species, gulls, terns, pelicans, phalaropes, so many... a birders paradise.

The colorful herons and singing oyster catchers were all so enjoyable. The coyotes were out in the distance indulging in the very low tide delicacies and with strong discussion I might add. As we walked within the allowed areas of the Biosphere, we witnessed galloping Hares, many tracks and the early blooms of the Cactus flowers. When you settle in and get yourself on lagoon time, all the rest is just where it should be, at the mainland, no phone, no loud traffic jams or even the buzzing of the typical traffic and noise we endure on a daily basis. I so hope you will come out and be with the Whales for a while. As early as it was, the Gray Whales were incredibly active and very interested in us. See you soon.

Norma Lira, Guide/Naturalist