Thursday, March 13, 2014

Mar 13 (Day 72) - New tires, Short-tailed hawk, and Sonia's arrival!

Sonia is going to arrive in a short time, so I am going to keep this on the brief side. I stayed on the east side of Tampa last night. Sonia and I will be staying in Clearwater Beach for the next few days. There might be some birding, but as of right now most of the time will be spent relaxing with her. I must confess that my body is feeling a bit beat up at the moment. After two 100-mile days in the last week, I will certainly welcome these few days off. Never fear, the blog streak will continue with posts from Sonia and me in the next few days!
49 miles today

Today's birding activities centered around finding Short-tailed hawks at Sawgrass Lake County Park. There are almost daily eBird reports from this site (they are known to nest here). This would be my best crack at this bird before I start the run north, west, and out of this bird's normal South Florida range. I had not done any research on this park, but it turned out to be really nice. There is a fantastic boardwalk with an observation tower, a really well-done environmental education center, and a very good variety of birds (particularly waders). 

I arrived just after lunch and starting biking around the park to get my bearings squared away. I immediately found 3 Swallow-tailed kites foraging over the picnic area. Several vultures then appeared overhead. I decided I should get the camera assembled as there was apparently a lot of raptor activity in this area. As I fumbled to get my rig out of my pannier and assemble it, a small, dark Buteo came cruising over the tree tops and down the far side of the pond adjacent to where I was standing. I knew instantly that this was the bird for which I was looking. I was able to get a 2 second binocular view (but no photo) of the bird as it disappeared over the trees at the end of the pond. It was a fairly terrible look, but I was certainly able to identify the dark phase bird. I originally though that this was an ABA bird for me. However, after thinking about it for a while, I realized I have seen this South Florida specialty once before - in Arizona! A pair of these birds nested in the Chiricahuas a few years back. Although today's bird was not a life bird, it was #244 for 2014! It also means that I only need to find Nanday parakeet in the next few days to close out South Florida (minus the cuckoo). I still need to find Bachman's sparrow, but I can deal with that once Sonia leaves and I head North. I did take a few pictures of waders today including my first decent one of Roseate spoonbill.

Boardwalk at Sawgrass Lake Park

Roseate spoonbill

 White phase Little blue heron

"Normal" Little blue heron from Ding Darling 
the other day for comparison. I am not sure what
determines the phase switch from white to blue.

Lastly, I put new tires my bike today. The back tire typically wears out faster than the front since more of the weight sits over it. Knowing this, I switched my front and back tires after the first 1500 miles of the trip. I have ridden an additional 1500 since the switch. I have had several flats in the past few days, so I figured the tires were finally shot. I figured I could make it to Tampa and then deal with it. I hit two bike shops looking for new tires; Neither had exactly what I wanted. I then tried Flying Fish Bikes in Palma Ceia. This place had a great selection of stuff and a friendly staff that helped me get exactly what I needed. I previously had 700x37mm tires, but this time I went with 700x32mm. These thinner tires should contact the road at fewer points and help me move the bike along with less rolling friction. I removed the spare tire from yesterday and put it back into my bag for the next emergency. I highly recommend a visit to Flying Fish Bikes if you are in the Tampa area.

Bill, Steve, and Ross at Flying Fish Bikes

Ok, that's it for right now. Once last selfie with the beard since it is likely to get cut off tomorrow!


  1. White Little Blue Herons are actually just first year birds.

  2. You are in the heart of Nanday Parakeet territory so that one shouldn't be too hard to find in the next few days. I checked ebird for Budgerigar sightings and it sounds like there was only one bird left in Hernando Beach earlier this year. May be the last "wild budgie" as someone pointed out. Good luck and continued safe riding.

  3. Plenty of Nanday Parakeets here in Ventura County if you don't see any while in Florida. I'll be happy to point them out for ya. Or scratch down in your notes... Rancho Sierra Vista in the Santa Monica Mountains NRA. Corner of Potrero Road and Reino. Usually about 20 of them in a flock around there. I'm sure you'll be visiting Pasadena, Ca as well which is home to about a dozen different Parrots/Parakeets, and I think they're countable. Good luck, and let the romance begin!