Base and Meridian WA and the Thrasher Spot, Feb 2, 2018

Fr. Charlie, Dave, and I went to some birding spots on the west side of town. We left at about 7:10 AM, and got to the Base and Meridian Wildlife Area at about 8:00. This is a riparian and desert habitat along the Gila River. It was a very nice spot, with a lot of water, and the river flowing fairly strong. Some fishermen said the river was lower than usual, but it looked like a lot of water to us. We didn’t get any great photographs this time, but still, I think it’s a nice place to go back to. I included two pictures of the Golden-crowned Kinglet. The pictures aren’t great, but this is the first time I’ve seen one, even though I guess they aren’t uncommon.

Next we went to the Dean and Beloat Riparian Area, which is a 25 minute drive from Base and Meridian WA. I saw on that this was close by, and had a lot of species, so we thought we’d try it. We didn’t see any birds while we were there, except some raptors in the distance. The area consists of a dirt road that you hike along and look for birds in the trees that line the Gila River. You can’t hike along the river – the underbrush is too dense.

From there we went to the ‘world famous’ thrasher spot at Baseline Rd and Salome Highway (about a 20 minute drive further west). ‘World famous’ is a bit of hyperbole, but it is a well known spot to birders nationwide to see a grand slam of four thrasher species. The main attraction is the Le Conte’s Thrasher. The range of this bird is a pretty small area in the desert southwest, and you’re almost guaranteed to see it at this spot. If you’re lucky, you may also see the Bendire’s Thrasher, Crissal Thrasher, and Sage Thrasher. All four of them is the grand slam. Interestingly, the most common thrasher around here, the Curve-billed Thrasher, can’t be found at this spot.

I wouldn’t call it a pretty place.  It is barren and nondescript, with desert shrubs and a few desert trees, such as Mesquite and Palo Verde. There is no water nearby. At first glance you wonder if anything can live here. We started wandering around in the desert thinking we must be crazy, when voila!, we saw the Le Conte’s. They dart around between desert shrubs with their tails raised. They spend almost all their time on the ground. I only saw one short and low flight. As we approached them for photographs, they moved away, so it was difficult to get a close up photograph. We saw the Sage Thrasher, but weren’t able to get a photograph. We also saw a lot of wildlife trails, maybe used by deer, javelina (a wild pig native to the area), coyotes, and jackrabbits. I saw some large jack rabbits, which usually attract coyotes.

Photography on the trip wasn’t very good, but we had a great time, and explored some new areas. I saw a couple of first-time birds: the Le Conte’s Thrasher and the Golden-crowned Kinglet.


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One Comment

  1. Mary Jill
    Posted February 4, 2018 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Yay! LaConte’s Thrasher!!!!!! (I know nothing about them except that is was my brother’s first time!!!). Looks great. Great shots.
    I loved the Golden crown. Looks like fun time.
    PS: When I first read your title I thought you were in Meridian,Washington (WA) and didn’t come to see us!!

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