Monday, October 29, 2012

West Coast Bird Makes Itself at Home in West Texas

It’s a long way from its home on the west coast. For now, a Varied Thrush is making itself at home at Christmas Mountain Oasis. It’s a mystery how the bird, which likely came from the Pacific Northwest, ended up in the Chihuahuan Desert. Imagine Carolyn Ohl-Johnson’s surprise when she saw this beautiful thrush hanging around her bird sanctuary. She’s worked hard to keep her oasis alive during tough years of drought, so it’s nice to see some reward for all her efforts.

My grandmother (Grana) and I traveled to the oasis last Friday, but we were not completely sure we would get to see the thrush. A cold front blew in the night before and Carolyn was not sure if the bird would stick around. Sometimes when there’s a significant weather change, birds will move with the weather. We experienced some momentary suspense when Carolyn reported on Texbirds that the thrush had not been seen all morning. We were just 30 minutes from the oasis when I read the post and we prepared ourselves for the worst – traveling hundreds of mile only to miss the target bird but a matter of hours.

Glad we did not miss it. Shortly after arriving at the oasis, I spotted the thrush near a water feature. When Carolyn arrived and I told her that I’d seen the thrush, she rushed back up to her house to alert birders that it was still around.

The thrush was tough to photograph, but very easy on the eyes with its blue and red plumage. Grana had missed the bird during her summer trip to Oregon last year, so it was a great moment for both of us.

The next day we ended our trip traveling through the Davis Mountains to Balmorhea Lake. We hoped to see a Sabine’s Gull and a Golden Eagle at the Lake, but unfortunately we missed both. But we really could not complain. Seeing Varied Thrush in Texas is not something everyone gets to do. 

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