Baja wanderer – Gray Thrasher in Point Loma

[All photographs copyright, Gary Nunn 2015] – After receiving a somewhat blurry cell phone picture from John Bruin of his camera back this morning, showing a dark spotted thrasher that had been found by Lisa Ruby, I raced over to Famosa Slough to see if I could refind it. Whatever the dark spotted blur was it was bound to be of great local interest! Just as I arrived at Famosa Slough John emailed me over a much more detailed photo of a pale bellied thrasher with blackish chevrons smothering the underparts! I thought “there’s no way!” but following John’s detailed directions I soon refound the bird feeding by the pathway and it does indeed appear to be a Gray Thrasher Toxostoma cinereum! A detailed series of photos below show the field marks well of this species. The bird was happily feeding (“thrashing”) on the bank side under a willow tree over the path. In the photos you can see it probing deeply in the leaf litter and tossing leaves over its shoulder every now and then. It flew a little away along the path revealing pale corners to the tail. The bird is an overall dull biscuit brown color, a little warmer colored on the rump perhaps, with pale buffy white underparts boldly marked with blackish chevrons throughout. The median and greater coverts are tipped with fine pale edges. The eye is a mid yellow-orange color. The tail, concolorous with the upperparts, shows some evidence of mud sticking to it, but since we have had a recent deluge of rain a couple weeks ago it seems reasonable the bird might have ventured into muddy conditions in its normally dry desert habitat. Various reference texts state the bird can be found as far north as 31°N on the west coast of Baja California, Mexico. Reports in eBird show the presence of this species southeast of Ensenada along Mexico Highway 3 in Baja California. I mapped it out in GoogleMaps and it is 128 miles between this bird and the nearest reports, “as the thrasher flies”. So they are not so far away from San Diego! To me it appeared to be feeding very much like a wild thrasher would, excavating deep among leaf litter and tossing debris everywhere in search of invertebrates. In my opinion the plumage looks a little evenly worn throughout and there do not appear to be any particular broken feathers or signs of captivity.

Gray Thrasher – Famosa Slough, Point Loma, San Diego County, California 02 August 2015

Gray Thrasher – Famosa Slough, Point Loma, San Diego County, California 02 August 2015

Gray Thrasher – Famosa Slough, Point Loma, San Diego County, California 02 August 2015

Gray Thrasher – Famosa Slough, Point Loma, San Diego County, California 02 August 2015

Gray Thrasher – Famosa Slough, Point Loma, San Diego County, California 02 August 2015

Gray Thrasher – Famosa Slough, Point Loma, San Diego County, California 02 August 2015

Gray Thrasher – Famosa Slough, Point Loma, San Diego County, California 02 August 2015

Gray Thrasher – Famosa Slough, Point Loma, San Diego County, California 02 August 2015

Gray Thrasher – Famosa Slough, Point Loma, San Diego County, California 02 August 2015

Gray Thrasher – Famosa Slough, Point Loma, San Diego County, California 02 August 2015

Gray Thrasher – Famosa Slough, Point Loma, San Diego County, California 02 August 2015

Gray Thrasher – Famosa Slough, Point Loma, San Diego County, California 02 August 2015

Gray Thrasher – Famosa Slough, Point Loma, San Diego County, California 02 August 2015

Gray Thrasher – Famosa Slough, Point Loma, San Diego County, California 02 August 2015

Gray Thrasher – Famosa Slough, Point Loma, San Diego County, California 02 August 2015

Gray Thrasher – Famosa Slough, Point Loma, San Diego County, California 02 August 2015

Gray Thrasher – Famosa Slough, Point Loma, San Diego County, California 02 August 2015

Gray Thrasher – Famosa Slough, Point Loma, San Diego County, California 02 August 2015

Gray Thrasher – Famosa Slough, Point Loma, San Diego County, California 02 August 2015

Gray Thrasher – Famosa Slough, Point Loma, San Diego County, California 02 August 2015

2 thoughts on “Baja wanderer – Gray Thrasher in Point Loma

  1. Excellent photos Gary! When I was there it was also actively thrashing about in search of food. At one point it picked up a approx. 6 inch stick and tossed it out of the way to look for bugs presumably underneath it.

    Dan

  2. Well done, Gary. Excellent photos and description. I was there all afternoon on 8/2. My camera was not working so I could not get any photos. At 19:00 Jim Lomax and I observed the bird sleeping between two pieces of woody debris on the upper part of the hillside closest to the white house/apartments above the tree-tunnel area. It blended in perfectly. We could not see it without our binoculars. It was less than 6 meters from us,

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