Back in December I was in Orange County, California, enjoying the holidays with my in-laws. I have been relatively negligent about having blogged about the birding I did while I was there so I thought I would try to rectify my lackadaisical attitude with a quick post about a quick twitch for a rather stunning bird.

In 2012 I got my 500th bird in the ABA area when I twitched a Painted Redstart at Lacy Park in San Marino, California. I got brief, unsatisfying looks in the drizzlymist and, though I saw enough to put a satisfying check-mark on my checklist the bird was still a BVD – Better View Desired. Fortunately, a Painted Redstart was frequenting Irvine Lake, a mere fifteen minutes from my in-laws house, in December. (In fact, as of this post the bird is still present.) It would be an easy twitch, as the bird was very reliably foraging in the trees behind the bait-and-tackle store by the entrance to the lake.

Painted Redstart at Irvine Lake

Painted Redstart at Irvine Lake

And, yeah, it was no problem at all to see this bird. Several birders were already present and once I paid my $5 entrance fee to the lake I joined them and struggled to get decent digiscoped images of the fast-moving bird. It seemed frantic as it foraged and the only time it stayed still for any length of time is when it paused to preen high up in a pine, which you can see at the top of this post.

It was an enjoyable experience and the better views desired were definitely achieved. I got some intelligence on other local birds and enjoyed the southern California sunshine while watching a wood-warbler that I never get to see in New York. What more could I want?

Painted Redstart

Painted Redstart

Of course, I missed the Lewis’s Woodpecker that had been found at nearby Irvine Regional Park, which also would have been a second encounter with a species I hardly ever get to see but batting .500 would make me an amazing baseball star so I can’t complain too much. After all, I did see a Varied Thrush in lieu of the woodpecker so it wasn’t all bad. Man, I wish they all could be southern California birds…

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Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy, their son, Desmond Shearwater, and their indoor cat, B.B. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.