Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Boyce Thompson Arboretum - Another Rarity
After such a great day on Saturday and chasing some rarities, I figured that my odds of anything special on Sunday were just about nil. But there had been a few reports of a Varied Thrush at one of my most favorite spots, Boyce Thompson Arboretum which is only about 45 minutes from my house. So it was not hard for me to decide to check it out, because of my love for this place. I arrived about 15 minutes early before they had opened the gates, so I parked my vehicle on the opposite side of the highway near the gate and of course got out of the car and started enjoying the birds that were found just along the road. The star of the road side was a male Pyrrhuloxia that paid a visit to me. Often nicknamed the 'Desert Cardinal', it is a bird that I do not see as often as I would like. What a great way to start my Sunday adventure!
While wandering around and looking for the Varied Thrush, I realized that this location had become a hotbed for another species of thrush, the Hermit Thrush. They were everywhere and even though they are not the most colorful of birds, they are always a delight to see. Not as flighty as the warblers, but can be sitting on a branch watching you and you could look right past them. They do blend in with their surroundings quite well but they are so stately sitting on a perch.
Of course there were other birds to entertain me while searching for my target bird. There were many Spotted Towhees, but they did not want to show themselves so I settled for some photos of a female Northern Cardinal and a Curve-billed Thrasher.
With the help of some others, we knew the vicinity where the Varied Thrush was hanging out and with the help of Bernie Howe, I finally camped out where he had seen it earlier and we waited. Patience and silence really paid off as it came into view foraging in the fallen leaves from the colorful deciduous trees in the area. The colors of this bird blended in so well with the leaves. Success on this find as well. This is a bird that breeds in the far northwest of the United States and extending all the way to Alaska. But in the winter some of these birds can wander far and wide, and this one definitely wandered quite a distance.
I figured my day was now complete and I could start making my way back to the visitor center, but along the way, I met a couple of other birders and they mentioned that they had seen a male Williamson's Sapsucker earlier in the picnic area. Well that peaked my interest as well as that is not a common bird to be found. So Bernie and I headed to the picnic area to try to find it and a couple of other birders from Idaho arrived just before us and had already found it in one of the pines in the picnic area. Last spring a female had made BTA its home for a couple of weeks and it drew many birders in to take a look. This time it was a male and was about 35 feet up in the tree.
Another successful trip to Boyce Thompson Arboretum. I love this place and will go back often. Its a membership that is a worthy investment.