Sunday, February 2, 2014

Feb 2 (Day 33) - Super Sunday, species demographics as I slowly move south.

This is going to be a very short post as I am using McDonald's internet and I need to run in a few minutes. Today was an absolutely fantastic day. The weather was perfect (minus a 10-12 MPH headwind in the afternoon), and I was on country roads for all 46 miles of my day. I made many birding stops and managed to tease out Chipping sparrow (#129), Savannah Sparrow (#130), and Wilson's snipe (#131). The snipe was a bit expensive as I forgot that I was clipped into my bike pedals when I stopped to see it. I fell onto the pavement and cut my hand, but its nothing too serious. Today was the first day that was warm enough for me to use my real biking shoes. They attach to the pedals, and they give me power in the upstroke in addition to the downstroke. The main drawback is that I must remember to unclip them before I stop the bike or I end up on the pavement as per the snipe. I have a couple of days on very quiet roads to get used to this adjustment.

One difference between my year and traditional big years is that I am not able to hop around at all; My route is completely continuous. What this means for me and for you as a reader of my blog is that birds are going to be added to the running list very slowly as I move between the specialty areas. There are a lot of specialty birds in the Southeast US, and it will take quite a bit of time to find them all. I know this is a lot less exciting than a four-day Florida blitz where I add 70 species to my total, but this is necessarily the way it is going to be given my mode of transportation. That being said, one of the really interesting aspects of my journey is seeing the changes in species distribution as I ride along. For example, I saw dozens of Red-tailed hawks in New England, but I only saw one Red-shouldered hawk. The numbers of the two species were probably equal in Maryland, and here in North Carolina it feels as though Red-shouldered have completely replaced Red-tailed. It has been interesting to see Black vultures increase steadily as I move south. The Chipping sparrows appeared everywhere today after being absent any further north. It is as if I am taking a very long transect line downy the east coast and sampling the birds all along it. Its very interesting, and I hope to post more on this in the next few weeks.

The weather tomorrow is going to be very rainy, but the wind is going to swing around and blow form the northeast for most of the day tomorrow. This means that I should have my first tailwind of the trip tomorrow, so even though it will be rainy and cold I should be able to cover a fair bit of ground. 


  1. Hi, I just learned of your adventure and site from a birding friend in New Jersey, who pointed out that you have combined my obsession with biking and his with birding. Best of luck in both. I look forward to following your ride. It's a great, and greatly ambitious, undertaking!

  2. It takes a while and a few falls to get used to those shoes. Try practicing while your riding on a quiet backroad. Be aware that your clipped in when you have to make a panic stop (car cuts you off or lose your balance after hitting a pot hole or obstacle in the road.
    Also be extremely cautious when riding over railroad tracks especially if its wet never cross them at an angle and be careful while riding the white line along the edge of the road if it is wet as they become very slippery. Also remember that SAND on the road is a cyclists ENEMY. Be very careful when riding over sand and railroad tracks.