Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mar 18 (Day 77) - Absent budgies, hooded warbler, bike issues

First, A big "thank you" to Robbie Spencer from CaptivaSanibel.com. Robbie not only gave my adventure a great write-up, but was also instrumental in orchestrating my visit to see the Red Sox spring training game in Fort Myers last week. A link to his article can be found here. Big props!

Now back to your regularly scheduled blog update....

Today I set out to find Budgerigar, an introduced parakeet that has its last toehold on the central west coast of Florida. This bird used to be quite numerous, but the numbers of this bird have plummeted in recent years. It is completely possible that this bird will become extirpated (locally extinct) in the next few years (there are plenty of these left in their native Australia). This bird currently is found in only one or two communities in this area of Florida, and it is more often missed than observed by even the most diligent of birders. It would be a real stroke of luck for me to tick this bird.

Total was ~67 miles with some unmapped riding

I started the day with a ~39 mile sprint north to Hernando Beach where a few of these birds have been observed in the course of the last few months. Here, I met up with Florida birding guru Bill Pranty who would help me search for the birds. Bill literally wrote the book on bird finding in Florida. I have used his guide on my previous trips to Florida and found it very helpful. Bill, two friends of his, and I looked around Hernando Beach without success. We did find a Yellow-throated warbler running around on a lawn. I have always seen this bird in its usual treetop habitat, so it was nice to see one so well today. This is the first time I have seen this bird this year although I did hear one in St. Augustine, Florida earlier in the month. 

Yellow-throated warbler next to a house

D-rock with Bill Pranty

Bill's Florida Bird Guide

As a last resort, Bill called another friend, Leslie, who he thought might have Budgerigars ("Budgies") at her house. It turned out that she had observed Budgies at her house just a few minutes earlier. I immediately hopped on the bike and made it to her house in about 40 minutes. I arrived at 1:15 and despite sitting vigil at her feeder array until 5:45, no Budgies materialized for me this afternoon. Leslie was good company, and she had a very comfy deck chair from which I was able to observe her feeder array. The best bird of the day was a Hooded warbler (#246) that spent the afternoon bouncing around her yard. I was able to manage a record photo of the bird. I also had some fun trying my hand at hummingbird photography for the first time. Leslie had a particularly popular plant that 2 Ruby-throats visited frequently. As Budgerigar would be a REALLY good bird for me to add to my year and life lists, I think I am going to return to Leslie's tomorrow morning for one last crack at this bird. I feel that if I don't tick this bird for my year list this year, I may never tick it for my life list either. This will mean an extra 28 miles of riding tomorrow, so this decision does represent a significant detour for me.

D-rock with Leslie

Hooded warbler - just glad to get it "on film"

Ruby-throated hummingbird

Ruby-throated hummingbird

I survived 66.5 miles of my 67-mile ride today without incident. However, I did get a very sudden flat tire just short of my final destination. I walked the bike to the house, and I figured I would deal with the tire after a shower and dinner. When my host and I looked at the wheel, we immediately noticed that one of my spokes was completely busted. Earlier in the day I was riding along when I heard a sharp metallic "ping". I thought something had hit my wheel, but whatever it was had apparently caused no damage (or so I thought). I continued riding without incident. Later in the day, I noticed that my front wheel was running untrue. I did not make the connection between the ping I heard on the road and the untrue wheel until I saw the broken spoke. The "ping" I heard was the spoke breaking; Uneven tension caused by the remaining spokes subsequently caused the wheel to run untrue. My host (Alan) and I worked together to fix the spoke and retrue the wheel. Luckily my bike came with 2 extra spokes! Everything looks fine at the moment. I expect to proceed tomorrow as expected. Exactly how the flat might have been connected to the broken spoke I am not 100% certain, and, to be honest, I just don't care at the moment. The bike, much like the Death Star, is "fully operational" at the moment.

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