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