Wednesday, May 29, 2013

READY...SET...OH NO!!! and Adios Pescadero

The past few days have been quite exciting planning and packing for a two month long bike trip.  I think I have everything I need now.  I'll be leaving in just an hour or two.
  Yesterday, however, when I was just about finished packing, I thought I'd go out on a test ride with all my gear piled on.  As I grabbed my bike, I didn't realize I had placed my binoculars on top of the ride.  These beautiful ZEN-RAY ED3 8x43 binos fell straight to the ground.  BROKEN!!!  Out of alignment and broken glass.  Yikes.  A terrible catastrophe the day before leaving.
  So now I'm left with my old trusty, but crusty Pentax pair.  They get out of alignment all the time,  but one only needs to scroll the focus back and forth to get them to work again.  Hopefully, they will survive the next couple of months and perform how I need them too.  Otherwise, I'll be stalking bird with the naked eye and probably not seeing anything new.
  Well, I'm sure they will do fine.
   So I change the route slightly.  Tonight, I'll head to Palo Alto and stay with my friend Heidi.  Sunol the next day to stay with another friend, Tanya, who just started a farm out there.  From there, the birding really begins with a ride up Mines Road and Del Puerto Canyon.  It's a hotspot for sure.  I'm hoping for a lot of great birds like Roadrunners, Rufous-Crowned Sparrow, Lawrence's Goldfinch, Blue Grosbeak, Yellow-breasted Chat, and who knows what else.  A few hummingbirds would be nice too.
  After that, I'll charge up through the Central Valley.  Not really too many birding plans there, but who know.  I'm sure a Swainson's Hawk will turn up somewhere over there.

  Well, I've got butterflies now.  Did I pack everything???  Probably forgot something, but it sure will feel good to get out on the road.
  More soon I hope... Adios Pescadero!!!

May review.

While May can be a great time for finding birds, I focused a lot this month on finishing up the school year, planting a summer garden, selling my old volvo, and planning my big summer bike tour.  I got some nice birding in certainly, but didn't find too many of my own new birds.  I chased a few good ones though...
  BANK SWALLOWS at Ano Nuevo show up every year.  It's just a matter of getting down there.  Finding them isn't too hard since they nest in the bluffs above the beach.
  A ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK was found by Ron Thorn just off Stage Rd. on Pomponio Creek Rd.  It was easy to refind the bird fortunately.  These birds were certainly not a given for the year.
  An INDIGO BUNTING on Cloverdale Rd. was a great bird.  Some visitors from Ohio found it and fortunately they ran into George Chrisman a few minutes later who posted about the bird.  I got a few photos.  Maybe I can get them up soon.
  That same day 5/26, I went to Pigeon Point and saw both SOOTY and PINK-FOOTED SHEARWATERS.  Finally!!!  My first of the year for Pink-footed.
  The nemesis bird continues...  David Suddjian emailed me after he found a Baltimore Oriole less than a half mile from the house.  When I got the email a few hours later and rushed out.  The bird was gone.  Thanks for the heads up David, but this bird once again alludes me.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cool Big Year in Spain!

I thought I'd highlight that comment that came in from my last post in case folks missed it.  This guy's doing an EcoBig Year in Spain.  And while I haven't yet translated it into English, I'm sure somebody who's interested will figure out how to have google do it.  He's blogging in Catalan, but the pictures are really cool and I can't wait to get to read what he's up to.  Makes me want to go to Spain.  Especially considering he's up to 248 species and 2100 miles!  Holy shit!  Nice work Ponc!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Route planning for the summer

In less than a month, I'll be headed out on an estimated two month long bike trip.  I'll be making a giant loop around the state, biking, camping and bird finding.  My general route will be to ride from here to Highway 49.  I'll be headed to the Sierra Nevada Field Campus just below Yuba Pass.  I worked in the kitchen at the field campus last summer and so I birded the area with some great naturalists and birders last summer.  This summer I'm stoked to be helping out Jim Steele with the Field Campus' Birding By Ear course.  It's going to be a five day course that's designed to focus on the nice variety of birds that area has to offer.  Between that course, and a few days on either side of the course, I'm hoping I'll add some great birds in what is now somewhat familiar territory. It's going to be really nice to get back there.  Willow Flycatcher??? We'll see.
  After the Field Campus, it's down to Sierra Valley for some great birding, then up to Truckee and Lake Tahoe.  Somehow work my way over to Monitor pass and down to Bridgeport Reservoir.  I'd love to find a Juniper Titmouse spot, but it sounds like maybe that bird is a longshot or will just be too far out to the way.  Down to Mono Lake, Mammoth, then south into new territory.  In 2011, I rode through Yosemite and birded the east side to the Sierra.  I made it as far south as Mono Lake and then up to Bridgeport.  This summer, I'm excited to explore the east side south of Mammoth, then Bishop, then south along Highway 395 all the way around the Sierra.  I suppose that means I'll be bike through some seriously HOT parts of the state in July, but I'm really hoping to turn up birds like LeConte's Thrasher and Scott's Oriole.  
  From 395, I'll head south and somehow make my way into the Transverse Range.  My friends Scot and Kristin live in the mountains around Frasier Park.  I figure by that time, I'll be needing a break from biking and the heat.  I'll probably be needing a little company as well after all that time in wide open spaces with just me, the birds, and my bike. 
  From Scot and Kristin's, I'll head over to San Luis Obispo.  I'm still looking into whether or not it is feasible to ride through Carrizo Plain in the summer.  I just haven't looked up if there is water available or not.  
  Morro Bay and then the Big Sur.  I'm not sure if I'll add many birds on that last leg home.  By mid to late July, things might be getting quiet.  Hopefully there will be some surprises that make riding into the wind on the coast for 200 miles worth it.  Watsonville, Santa Cruz, then HOME.  I'm guessing 2 months on the rode and hopefully tons of great birds. We'll see.

  Well, in between now and then, I better get down to Ano Nuevo and look for a Bank Swallow.  Hopefully, I'll turn up some Swifts soon too.  I saw a Vaux's Swift today at Worley Flat during a May Day festival with all the local naturalists, but I drove to get there.  That's a bird I see sometimes only once a season around here.  I'm not worried about finding a Yellow Warbler or Western Wood Pewee.  I know they'll turn up soon.
  As a quick update, I saw an OSPREY lately at Gazos Creek Beach.  SWAINSON'S THRUSHES are abundant here at the house now.  Lately, I've heard OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHERS demanding beer (song:  "Quick Three Beers") and LAZULI BUNTINGS.