Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Feb 25 (Day 56) - Short day with some time for photos!

I had another great night at Best Western last night. This time it was at the Best Western Plus Aku Tiki Inn in Daytona Beach. The hotel was right on the beach, and the sound of the ocean through my open porch door last night was certainly welcome. I had planned a short ride today to give myself a bit of a rest. I had covered 230 miles in the previous 3 days, so the 26 miles I covered today hardly registered on my legs. Since I did not have that much riding to do, I took a short walk along the beach in front of the hotel this morning. There were loads of gulls with a few terns mixed in. I did not have a ton of light with which I could work, but I did scrape out a serviceable shot of one of the many Lesser black-backed gulls that dotted the beach. After my walk I returned to the hotel where I destroyed the free breakfast buffet. Pancakes, eggs, danishes, and so-forth stood no chance. One of the great things about biking is that eating doesn't really interfere with the activity!

The view from my room - note gulls along beach

Lesser black-backed gull

After breakfast, I started making moves south towards New Smyrna Beach. I had a newly made friend, Tom, who was going to join me for some bike-birding when I arrived. I actually stayed with Tom's daughter, Sherry, in Wilmington, NC. Tom was around when I stayed at Sherry's, and he invited me to stay with him when I reached this area. This was going to make for a perfectly relaxing afternoon of bike-birding since I did not have that much distance to cover in the morning. I cleared out of the hotel at around 10am (late for me!) and headed south out of Daytona Beach. I was not on the road for 10 minutes when I saw this.

Yes, this is, in fact, the first drive up church I have ever seen. Now, I know Americans are totally obsessed with cars, but this really takes it to a whole new level. They may as well just put up a Sonic and let people order food from carhops. Only in America......

Returning to birding, I did, on Tom's advice, look for and find Yellow-crowned night heron (#203) on the causeway out of Daytona Beach. I was able to snap a few quick shots of this guy before he bolted. I made it out to New Smyrna Beach around noon where Tom promptly bought me lunch. We rode our bikes along the beach to reach Ponce Inlet at the North end of the Island. We found a fair number of gulls, terns, and shorebirds as we cruised along. Notable were my first Sandwich terns (#204) of 2014! We also found 2 purple sandpipers on the jetty at the inlet. Tom says he occasionally finds these this far south. I was surprised to find one of these in Charleston, SC, but I was really shocked to find these 2 today. I simply had no idea they made it this far south. I did snap a few midday pics of one of them. I returned Tom's lunch treat and bought us both ice cream as we return to the center of town. It was a tasty finish to a very relaxing day.

***Click for bigger images***

Yellow-crowned night heron (#203)

 Purple sandpiper

Sandwich tern (#204)

Royal tern portrait 

 Willet, because why not?

OK, I'm a bit short on time after getting all the photos ready for you, so I'll have to sign off for the moment. I am going to make more distance south tomorrow, and I plan on making a stop to look for a Clay-colored sparrow that has been frequenting a feeder in Titusville. 


  1. So, who correctly predicted your 200th bird ? Was the Yellow-throated Warbler even listed, or would that bird have been a write-in ? Jerry

  2. They've done studies, you know. 60% of the time, it works every time.

  3. The sign on the church says "Blessing of the bikes". Have you done it to bring you luck or less flat tires for the next 10 months? ;)