I haven’t done a lot of rarity chasing this year. Coming from Brooklyn, there’s not a lot of excitement in finding a Yellow-breasted Sapsucker, an American Redstart, or an American Tree Sparrow, all of which are common park birds back east. Instead I’ve been focusing on local western birds that are still lifers for me such as Black Turnstone and Surfbird. However when I heard about a Painted Redstart over in Bonelli Regional Park, that seemed worth chasing. It’s a common southern Arizona bird, but doesn’t show up much elsewhere. However this one seems to be pretty reliable, and it’s less than an hour away from Irvine.
I got to the park about 8:30 this morning, and after getting a little lost–I think I was driving down a horse trail–I eventually located the correct parking lot. I luckily stumbled on the monthly bird walk at Bonelli park, and they helpfully pointed me to the correct tree in which to look. They’d already seen the Redstart. I drove to the other end of the parking lot, and scanned the tree. House Finches were singing noisily, but no Redstart. I walked across the road and picked up Hutton’s Vireo, and then came back to the Oak. About 10 minutes later, the redstart flies in with a quick “Che-wee. Che-wee”.
I got a brief look at it, before it disappeared again into the middle of the foliage. It’s a striking and unmistakeable bird though. Then, about a minute later, it burst out again with a lot more calling and activity, and I was able to grab some pictures and study it a bit.