Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Mar 11 (Day 70) - 100,000 blog hits, Mangrove cuckoo, Red Sox spring training

First, we went over 100,000 blog hits today! This is fantastic as it means many, many people are following this adventure on a day-to-day basis. Please continue to visit often, and please continue to spread word of the blog to anyone who might be at all interested in the project. Now, without further ado, drumroll please.........

Today I saw a Mangrove cuckoo in the same spot, Bunche Beach, where I looked unsuccessfully for the bird yesterday. Two minutes prior to my arrival it had flown into a banding net set by the Cuckoo Research Team from "Ding" Darling NWR. I could tell something was happening as I rode down the mangrove-lined entrance road to the beach. As I pulled up, Rachel, one of the researchers, was untangling the netted cuckoo. They were going to take some measurements on the bird and fit it with a radio transmitter. This was going to take upwards of 30 minutes, so I figured I would give them some space to process the bird. I headed further down the road to see if I could scrape up my own cuckoo.  

Despite several additional hours of searching, I was unable to either see or hear another cuckoo anywhere at this location. I am not going to count the netted bird since I was not part of the banding expedition/group. Instead, I decided to focus on finding my own bird, and as a result I did not even watch the release of the captured bird. I did not want to have the "Should I count it?" debate with myself had I watched the release. The Le Conte's sparrow that we caught (and I counted for 2014) during a banding session in Georgia was completely different.  On that day, I was part of the banding team. I actually saw the bird flying around before it was netted, and had we not netted it, I would have reflushed it and been able to see it. Today I was just riding by after the cuckoo was caught. I have decided that this is not the way I am going to see my lifer Mangrove cuckoo. I will return to Florida at some future time (hopefully with Sonia!), and we'll find one the old fashioned way. Barring a complete fluke sometime in the next few days, this bird will not be on my 2014 list. I did photograph another Western Sandpiper at this location today. This guy is already looking very sharp in breeding plumage.

Western Sandpiper

After Bunche Beach, I took a slow ride towards and around 6-mile Cypress Preserve. This area looked perfect for Short-tailed hawk, but I was unable to locate one. I did see several Bald eagles, loads of vultures, several Red-tailed and Red-shouldered hawks, 1 Cooper's hawk, and several kestrels. Judging by the number of cars in the lot, this preserve looks like a very popular spot. I could not help but take a picture of the preserve bike rack as it is by far the coolest one I have seen this year. 

In the afternoon I took a break from birding to attend a Red Sox spring training game at JetBlue Stadium near Ft. Myers. I had been put in touch with some Red Sox media people, and they sorted me out with a really good seat for today's game against the Florida Marlins. The ballpark staff let me store my bike and all my junk in the park offices. This made my life really easy and let me enjoy the game without worry that someone had walked off with my stuff. I also did both a TV and Newspaper interview today, so once these are up I will try to figure out a way to link them from this blog. Those who know me well know that I am a total attention hound, so they won't be shocked when I say that I think I did a good job of hamming it up for the TV camera. Here is a panoramic pic from my front row seat in the park. It is basically a replicated Fenway field within a much smaller stadium. 

After the game I rode 43 miles to Port Charlotte for the night (I covered 76 total). I am going to have a strong southwest wind behind me tomorrow, so I am going to try to make as much distance north as I can before the wind switches to blow from the north on Thursday. Sonia arrives in Tampa Thursday night so I certainly want to be around for that event! She is going to make a guest blogging appearance at some point later this week, so stayed tuned to hear what she has to say. She writes very well so I think everyone should enjoy her blogging cameo.

Staying on top of this blog is becoming more and more difficult. This is because the days are getting longer; This complicates blogging for two reasons. First, since there is more daylight, I stay out riding/birding much later than I did earlier in the year. It was pitch black in Northern Massachusetts at 4:00pm in early January. Today I did not arrive at my final destination until 7:15pm. This means I have 3 fewer hours to blog and to organize logistics than I did 2.5 months ago. Second, since I am staying out later birding/riding, I have less energy when I do finally arrive at my destination. I am noticing more typos as the year progresses. I am also having a harder time injecting humor into my writing when I am so tired. All of these challenges are going to compound as spring and summer approach and the days continue to lengthen. I am going to do my best to stay on top of the blog, but I will say that I can foresee that some off days will be required in the future. Many people have told me that they are more impressed with the blog than the riding, and I really want to keep the every-day streak alive. The blog streak is a real point of pride for me at this time, but I might need more sleep as I start laying down big miles in Texas in May. We'll see how it goes in the next few weeks. Bed time as I have to ride 80-90 miles tomorrow.

Here's a link to one of today's press snippets!


  1. I stumbled across your blogg by reading a boston website...I'm a weekend birder from the burbs of boston. I'm interested in your binoculars...I recently spent the cash for swarovski bino's and I was wondering what you used? I love you pictures and reading you blog...I will be a return reader...keep posting the pictures and stay out of the way of speeding traffic

  2. We are glad you saw the bird- exactly where we had been seeing it. We were afraid it had left the area. We hate to give others information and have the bird's location change- too bad the banding was not later on. Have a great safe adventure. Randy and Pam from Ky.

  3. I had a feeling something like that had happened with the cuckoo. So sorry it didn't work out better. I know I was giving you shit the other night about getting the blog done, but really you should be doing what's best for you. What's most important is your health and physical ability to complete this incredibly daunting task you've yourself on. You need adequate sleep and your readers will understand (though my breakfasts will be less exciting...and you might get some angry emails...) Glad you had a good time at the game! Funnily enough I was randomly given a free ticket to the Orioles game on Friday, which happens to be MY favorite team!

  4. I am impressed that you do stay on top of your blog. That is a lot of work. By the time you are finished the year, the amount of effort put into the blog could easily equal that of a small book.

    Your blog is interesting to me because I can relate to the bicycle part of it, even though all I do is my 8 km daily route about 100-150 times per year. I am keen to get out on the bicycle soon. As long as it stays above -10 Celius, it is not raining (even a little) or snowing heavily and the roads are not too wet I will go out at this time of year. I impress some of my coworkers with the cold I will put up with, but compared to others such as yourself, I am a wimp.

    Perhaps I might get that mythical Snowy Owl in North Bay that was reported a few times this winter. I got the Snowy Owl last Sunday as a lifer (# 239) as part of a double family birding trip but doing it on my commute route (currently at 118 species) would be even cooler.