LeConte's Thrasher


Gila Valley & Tacna
Feb 3, 2002 - 35-55 degrees, 8:00-12:00
narrated by Henry Detwiler

Aaron, Sharon, and I set out to find the LeConte's Thrasher and raptors east of Tacna and in the Gila Valley
species (list follows at end of page)

Click on thumbnail pictures for full-sized shots.

Aaron at the flats

Aaron is ten years old and already a fine birder.  He pointed out and identified raptors, egrets, and sparrows as we drove the country roads and canals east of Tacna.  He's learned from Arnold Small and some of the country's most renowned birders.

So along with his mom, Sharon, we headed to the saltbush flats five miles east of Tacna to hunt for the reclusive LeConte's Thrasher.  Our first nice bird was a Ferruginous Hawk perched on a power line along the road.  It didn't stick around long, but we got to watch it in flight.  Shortly after that I spotted a Prairie Falcon on top of a tamarisk tree, and we had great looks at this one as it peered down upon us.  I almost had my scope on it when a train came by and flushed it. Rats.

As soon as we reached the area of four-winged saltbush, we started seeing new birds.  Brewer's and White-crowned Sparrows were abundant, and a Say's Phoebe caught our eye.  Then Sharon saw a bird perched in the distance that turned out to be our target.  It was singing, too, so we got to listen while we watched it through Aaron's Nikon scope. 

LeConte's Thrasher in Saltbush

I also tried out taking photos through this very compact scope.  We walked around the area some in search of Sage Sparrows, which I knew were lurking somewhere in the brush.  It was very, very cold for the area, hovering just above freezing.  But NO wind, so it wasn't too bad.  We finally located some of the gray mouse-colored, long-tailed Sage Sparrows.  We even saw a few of them perched.  As we moved farther east we added Vesper and Savannah Sparrows, two Roadrunners, and got another peek at the Ferruginous Hawk.

Vermilion Flycatcher 
Close to the Gila River we visited a horse farm where two male Vermilion Flycatchers were snapping up insects.  At Quigley Pond we convinced several Soras to respond to our recordings.  Our final stop was at Antelope Hill, where we looked not at birds, but at some of the petroglyphs high up on the mountainside.
Bird List for Feb 3, 2002



1 Pied-billed Grebe
2 Double-crested Cormorant
3 Great Egret
4 Great Blue Heron
5 Snowy Egret
6 Common Moorhen
7 American Coot
8 Sora
9 Killdeer
10 Turkey Vulture
11 Northern Harrier
12 Sharp-shinned Hawk
13 Osprey
14 Ferruginous Hawk
15 Red-tailed Hawk
16 Prairie Falcon
17 Gambel's Quail
18 Mourning Dove
19 Rock Dove
20 Greater Roadrunner
21 Northern Flicker
22 Vermilion Flycatcher
23 Say's Phoebe
24 Black Phoebe
25 Horned Lark
26 Common Raven
27 Verdin
28 Marsh Wren
29 Black-tailed Gnatcatcher
30 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
31 Loggerhead Shrike
32 Leconte's Thrasher
33 European Starling
34 Common Yellowthroat
35 Orange-crowned Warbler
36 Yellow-rumped Warbler
37 Brewer's Blackbird
38 Western Meadowlark
39 Red-winged Blackbird
40 Great-tailed Grackle
41 House Sparrow
42 Abert's Towhee
43 White-crowned Sparrow
44 Vesper Sparrow
45 Song Sparrow
46 Savannah Sparrow
47 Brewer's Sparrow
48 Sage Sparrow
49 Lesser Goldfinch
50 House Finch

Photos Henry D. Detwiler