The habitat from this morning
12 miles for 2 birds - can't beat that!
Bell's sparrow for #571 and 680-something (4?) for
my lower 48 list!
my lower 48 list!
I had only been out for an hour, and already it was heating up. I hopped back on the bike and continued along the road. Le Conte's thrasher is a bird that I have seen only once before (a bit south of here in Maricopa), so I had familiarized myself with its song and call in my hotel room last night. Cruising along, I heard a distinctive two-sylable "Suu-weeeep" from the right hand side of the road. I immediately stopped, dropped the bike, and briskly walked out into the area from which the call came. I walked around for 5 minutes before I saw a larger bird (larger when compared to the ever-present Bell's sparrows) sprinting across the dry ground. I immediately gave chase. Eventually the bird popped out to reveal a beautiful Le Conte's thrasher! I chased it around for a bit and was eventually able to grab a few photos. The miserable ride from yesterday was actually worth it. This was a lot easier than I expected it to be. I really earned this bird after yesterday, so this victory felt incredible today. The bird streak remains intact!
Le Conte's thrasher for #572!
Characteristic high-tail posture as
this species sprints away
Later, what I think was a second bird did perch out in the open.
I guess its only appropriate given the setting......
I hung around a bit longer to look for additional thrashers. I did heard a presumed third bird call further down the road, but I didn't chase it down. With both of these birds bagged this morning, I decided to use the rest of the day as rest and recovery from yesterday before attacking the near 100-mile ride to Ventura tomorrow. There was a report of Yellow-green vireo from that area today, so that will provide additional motivation for me! As my right calf was very tight and sore this morning, I did about 30 minutes of leg stretching when I returned to my room. This felt very good. I will get a very early (~6:30am) start tomorrow to beat the heat that had rolled in full forced by the time I returned to my hotel at 10am this morning. Beyond Ventura, then it's onto LA to search for Spotted dove. This will require some diligence, but, luckily, Sonia's family lives not far from the best spot to look for it. I'll hopefully get the family and the dove!
I do want to mention that I have had a very nice stay here at the Holland Inn and Suites here in Taft. Since there isn't a Best Western in town, I figure that plugging this place isn't a conflict of interest. My main reason for doing this is that Mike, the guy who runs this hotel, really took an interest in my journey. He wanted to hear all about it, and he even helped carry my stuff up the stairs when I arrived yesterday. Additionally, he gave me a break on the rate for my second night. If you ever find yourself in Taft (looking for thrashers or otherwise), I would highly recommend a stay here. Most of the accommodations in town are fairly basic, but from what I can surmise from riding around, this place is as good as any!