Monday, April 20, 2015

Thrasher search, Part 3: Clark Dry Lake

Ocotillo
Ocotillo in bloom. Clark Dry Lake, California. March 22, 2015. Greg Gillson.
My search for Crissal Thrasher was finally successful at the Mesquite Bosque. So now I wanted to find LeConte's Thrasher. This thrasher hides successfully in sandy soils with scattered bushes. You'd think it would hard to hide in a such dry, sparse, landscape, but there aren't very many of these birds, and there is a lot of places they could hide.

First, I went over to the Old Springs Road Open Space Preserve and edge of the landfill. [See map for the Borrego Springs area in the site guide to the Borrego Springs waste treatment ponds and Mesquite Bosque.] LeConte's Thrashers have been found here in the past. However, as is often the case, no birds whatsoever after 20 minutes.

Leaving, I turned onto Peg Leg Road and immediately found other bird watchers viewing the Swainson's Hawks feeding on caterpillars and kettling into the sky. After a few minutes here I continued on S22 past Henderson Canyon Road, then turned left (north) into the Clark Dry Lake area.

I drove through the dry-camp area along the west edge of the dry lake bed heading north. I stopped just before the main road heads across a portion of the alkaline flats, maybe about 3 miles in.

Clark Dry Lake

I walked the edge of the dry lake bed where creosote bushes were sparse and the soil sandy. No luck on the LeConte's Thrashers. I'm not sure if I was in the best place, or not. Birds often sing at dawn; after the sun rises over the horizon, however, singing soon ceases. They may also sing again at dusk.

I did find two Sage Thrasher's, though, a rather uncommon wintering bird. I also found a new County Bird for me, Brewer's Sparrow. And I got a better photo of Loggerhead Shrike than I got at the Mesquite Bosque earlier in the morning.

Sage Thrasher
Sage Thrasher. Clark Dry Lake, California. March 22, 2015. Greg Gillson.
Brewer's Sparrow
Brewer's Sparrow
Loggerhead Shrike
Loggerhead Shrike
Well, I still didn't find the LeConte's Thrasher or the Lucy's Warbler. Theoretically, I do have until early May to keep looking, I guess. Then the summer heat arrives and breeding (and singing) season is over again for this year. Realistically, my chances of seeing these yet this year are poor; I'll have to try again next year.