At long last, I’ve returned to the blogosphere. I’ve begun poring over the hundreds of posts from other bloggers that piled up in my RSS feed, and now here I sit, trying to peck one out myself, while my cat alternates between walking across my keyboard and head-butting me. Of course, he’s just a convenient scapegoat – the real thing that’s hard about writing is… writing.

It’s been over two weeks since I posted. Was I in some remote jungle in New Guinea where there’s no internet service? Was I sequestered as part of a jury in a celebrity murder trial? Was I in a coma?

You’ll never know. You should learn to live with uncertainty.

The point is, I’m back. When last we met, I was blathering about a bunch of travel plans I have for this spring. Well, some of em got done already. I was in the Dallas area for a little over a week, and did a bunch of birding there. I have two key takeaways about Dallas birding:

1. In Dallas proper, the birding-quality-to-traffic-frustration ratio (a measure that I may have invented, henceforth BQTF) is mediocre. Here in L.A., we have plenty of traffic, but there are also shit-tons of birds. When I get off work, I hop in my car and twenty minutes later I’m seeing cool stuff. In Dallas? Meh. Granted, I don’t know Dallas as well. Well, go ahead and prove me wrong, Dallas.

2. If you have time to go like an hour and change outside of Dallas, there's really cool birding. I used the weekend to make two such trips. First I went southwest to Dinosaur Valley State Park, in search of my lifer Golden-cheeked Warbler – which, after much warblerless hiking, I did in fact find. I also found some more unexpected stuff, like a Philadelphia Vireo and a rare-for-there Townsend’s Warbler. Plus, it was a gorgeous place. Then I went north to an area just shy of the Oklahoma border which has Harris’s Sparrows and lots of other cool shit.

Each of those weekend trips is worthy of a post on its own, but it’s too late for all that fuss so I’ll just give you a few photographic highlights. It’s probably better for everybody.

First a non-bird, but one of my coolest sightings in recent memory:
Saw that little beaut at White Rock Lake (thanks for the tip Laurence), when it swam across a creek. Dope.
Indigo Bunting
Not a great pic of him, but gives a sense of the spring-springing that was going on in D-Town.
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Seriously does not do the bird justice, but I had to include one of these. I love these guys and they're all over the place out there.
Dear Swainson's Hawk, 

You can fly, but you can't hide from my bird-crusher. 

Warm regards, 

In the end, I returned from Dallas satisfied, and frankly sort of birded out. The old familiar haunts were a little less exciting after that. Fortunately, I recently got a bike and have begun exploring the path that runs along the L.A. River, which puts me in position for some pretty decent incidental birding. That’s what I did today.

Although I’ve written disparagingly of the L.A. River in the past, I actually sort of love it. It’s been thoroughly transformed by human activity – deliberately so – and in many places looks downright depressing, but still there’s remarkable vegetation and bird life in some spots. My interest in it grew recently when I read Blake Gumprecht’s book, The Los Angeles River: Its Life, Death, and Possible Rebirth. Did you know that, in the mid-1800s, largely thanks to the river’s largesse, L.A. was known as a wine-producing region? The “City of Vines,” they called it. And as recently as the 1930s, the river was subject to frequent, catastrophic flooding. Hard to imagine for those of us who know it as a trickle in a giant concrete bed. Anyway, today the sun and the birds were out in force:
Green Heron
Not exactly the world's rarest bird, but pretty cool for such an urban setting.
Double-crested Cormorants, Western Gulls
Canada Goose with goslings. Come on! CUTE.
By the way, the place where I got my bike is great. The owner is a very interesting dude and seems to have a budding interest in birds to boot. He even name-checked me on his pithy blog. Everybody there is really helpful. If you’re in L.A., even if you don’t need a bike, you should drop by just to shoot the shit with these guys.

Anyway, this is how I’m spending the lull in my Spring Birdstravaganza. Not bad. Friday night I head off to High Island, Texas for what should be some sick migration birding. Until then, I bide my time, quiet, calm, but intent… marshaling all my resources in preparation for the frenzy to come.

U.S.A., you're about to get birded. HARD.


04/22/2013 10:13pm

Damn man, I didn't give forewarning about the traffic but yeah, driving there is the worst. Having driven in L.A., Chicago, and New York, I must say that Dallas is the worst I've ever had. More than once I saw an ass in a big-ass pick up miss his exit on the freeway, stop, and back er on up to the ramp, cause' fuck you guys is why.

NICE WORK with the Golden-cheeked Warbler. That is a sick esoteric bird. Having seen it puts you in a pretty elite group of specialists in this country.
You smashed that Swainson's, really creamed the poor bastard.

Looking forward to your High Island stuff, and those Golden-cheeked photos.
Bird Hard!

04/23/2013 11:41am

Seriously man, what is up down there! I also found people to be exceptionally fond of going slowly in the left lane forever for no reason.

Uh, about those Golden-cheeked photos. If I gave the impression that those exist, forgive me.... After hours of lugging the camera around and seeing almost *nothing*, I had put it in my backpack shortly before the little beauty made its appearance. Figures, right?

05/01/2013 8:38pm

Ah, you've established yourself as a very experienced birder/photog then if you also know the ol' 'put away the camera to flush out the rare bird' trick. Good on ya. Way to put the bird before the photo.

I mean, I'm still pretty mad at you, but it's a'ight as long as I get high of your Islands stuff.

04/23/2013 11:37am

i'm about to get birded... hard??

04/23/2013 11:42am

Um. Well, not you *personally*.

04/28/2013 6:55pm

Texas birding is so good...there is so much more I have to do, which includes High Island. Have fun out there, the most exotic locale (other than my island) I'll be getting to this spring is Galileo Hill.

Quality crush on that SWHA, btw.


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