Thursday, July 28, 2011

California Thrasher - Western Birds

California Thrasher, Crystal Cove State Park, CA; 6/16/2011.
Three consecutive days during the week I spent birding in Crystal Cove State Park I saw a rather large bird with a long hooked bill suddenly appear in the brush then disappear just as fast. It was always on the ground under dense brush and never came into view except for a curved bill here or a tail there. Because of its bill, I knew it was a thrasher, and had to do some research to find out that the only Thrasher to inhabit the California Pacific Coast would be the California Thrasher, which then became #301 on my Life List.  Finally, in the late afternoon on the day before I was to leave the area, I heard a low harsh scratchy sort of bird call coming from the thickets. I wasn't sure what it was until I saw the Thrasher sitting on a branch about three feet off the ground. And there it was, the elusive California Thrasher sitting in a position in which I could get a photograph. I hurriedly snapped off several shots, but the bird was in a position with horrible back light (Below) and all that the photos produced were silhouettes of it. II thought if only I could get around to the other side of it, but that would mean bushwhacking through some thick thorny brush, and undoubtedly making excess noise, which would scare the bird into the underbrush.  I decided it was worth a try because the Thrasher seemed content to stay where it was and didn't seem motivated to move into a better photographic position - birds are selfish that way.  The bushes were anywhere from waist high to head high, so as  slowly scratched my way through the brush (it was more like the bush scratched me) to get to the other side, I moved one branch at a time out of my and tried to step over and in between as many brambles as possible so not to cause undue noise. After about five minutes (which seemed longer) of purposeful bushwhacking (actually it was not much of a "whacking" more like a "bushmoving"), I reached a point where I could see the Cal. Thrasher in better light. To my surprise, it didn't fly away, but kept up its croak like song. It surely must have known I was there - I wasn't very incognito, nor stealthy. But it stayed put and let me take  several pictures (Above). It didn't look very healthy as its head was very thinly covered with feathers. it was either molting or sick.

The clear silhouette of a California Thrasher, CA; 6/16/2011.

California Thrashers are only found in California and the northern Pacific Coast of the Baja Peninsula. I felt fortunate to find one in the open because several birding guides say that they are common but difficult to see.

Sunset of the Day
As seen from Watchman's Peak, the golden light of the setting sun reflecting off the mountains surrounding Crater Lake and casting a very defined shadow of  Wizard Island on the lake, Crater Lake Nat. Park, OR;  7/10/2008.

1 comment:

~Val said...

This guy's beak looks scary.