Thursday, November 10, 2011

What an Amazing Birding Month! in Shoshone, CA 92384 near Death Valley

Wood Thrush at the Garden Hose Pond
October in Shoshone, CA area has long been known for it's excellent birdwatching. October of 2011 was filled with regular sightings of uncommon and rare birds. It seemed like each day brought new surprises to the doorstep.The now world famous Garden Hose Pond, hosted a variety of birds that made it seem more like an Easter egg hunt than Halloween. The highlight of October was definitely the Wood Thrush. This eastern bird has only 26 previous California records. I first spotted it on the lawn across the street, and was congratulating myself for having a camera around my neck, when a juvenile Coopers Hawk appeared in the viewfinder and  almost ended the 27th California Wood Thrush record's life! The Wood Thrush sounded it's pit-pit-pit alarm call, a familiar sound to me, a birder from Maine.Although I'm a huge fan of avian  aerial combat, and birds of prey in general, I was thrilled to see the Wood Thrush escape to deep cover in my own yard. I resighted it later that evening and after a few phone calls to the top of the birding food chain, realized that this bird was kind of a big deal. It was first spotted on Oct 25 and was last seen Nov8. Many birdwatchers who came to Shoshone Village from all over California and Nevada  were able to get great looks an photos of this extremely rare (in the west) bird.  It stayed around the pond and readily ate meal worms and oranges, probably regaining critically needed body fat  necessary for traveling. Nocturnal migrants, they  usually spend the winter in Mexico and Central America..A Wood Thrush in California should really be called a rare occurrence than a rare bird. The correct word is Vagrant. A bird that isn't supposed to be here in the first place. In most of  eastern North America, their beautiful EE-O-LAY song can lift even the heaviest of hearts during a quiet dawn or dusk  walk in the Maine Woods.
It is pure speculation to guess where this lost songbird may have come from. It seemed so comfortable here in the little pond, I'd hoped it would winter here. I will miss this sweet little bird more than most.

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