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Curve-billed Thrasher and Butterbredt Spring

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  • William Bouton
    Hi All, I went to Anza-Borrego State Park this week particularly to photograph butterflies, flowers and scenery. As long as I was so close I decided to take
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 19, 2004
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      Hi All,

      I went to Anza-Borrego State Park this week particularly to photograph butterflies, flowers and scenery. As long as I was "so close" I decided to take a chance of going to Parker Dam to look for the Curve-billed Thrasher that had been inhabiting the cactus garden of the Black Meadow Landing Resort earlier in the winter. The last report that I could find for this bird was from February 20, nearly a month earlier.

      On March 18, I arrived at the resort around 16:00, I was told by the registrar that the bird was "probably still around". I was directed to "Ernie" who has been spending the winter at space #25. Knocking on Ernie's door and asking about the thrasher, I was told by Ernie that he had seen it twice that day, but that it usually wasn't seen so late in the afternoon. Walking across the street to the cactus garden I immediately saw the bird foraging for handouts among a group of quail.

      Ernie has been spending the winter season at this resort for 10 years. He's been doing the garden rock wall work and propagating cactus, and he regularly feeds the birds. He says that in the morning, he calls the bird when he throws out seed and the thrasher comes right out to feed.

      I had heard that this might be the second winter the bird has come to this location and I asked about that. Ernie said that he doesn't know if it ever leaves, because Ernie leaves for the summer.

      I was curious about how he recognized the bird as unusual and he told me that he had been a career U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee and had been interested in birds.

      I spent the next night above Butterbredt Spring hoping to find early Yucca Giant-Skipper (a butterfly) flying the next morning, March 19. Only a trickle of birds were moving through, mostly Orange-crowned and Yellow-rumped Warblers. There was one SCOTT'S ORIOLE in the Joshua Trees just up canyon from the spring and another about four miles further up canyon.

      Apparently the gazillion acres the state has sacrificed to the off-road motorcyclists isn't enough, as they have been through the preserve, driving on the dam that impounds the spring, and up and down the canyon below. On the other hand, the regeneration since the cattle have been fenced out is quite impressive.

      Bill Bouton
      San Luis Obispo, CA USA

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