Monday, April 28, 2014

Apr 28 (Day 118) - Heading towards Austin, Lark sparrow at #334, need to drop weight.....

I decided to bypass the Attwater's prairie chickens for several reasons. First, I would have only moved 40 miles today if I had tried for them, and some of that would have been to the south - away from Austin. Second, the wind today was lighter than expected, so I could cover a decent distance towards Austin instead.  Third, the wind the next 2 days is going to be very strong from the northwest, and this would make the long, 2-day northwest ride into the wind from the prairie chicken spot to Austin very difficult. From where I am now it should only take 1 long day of riding into/across this wind to reach Austin. Fourth, my bike is showing some significant signs of wear and tear, and I want to get it Austin as soon as possible. I have scheduled a bike tune-up in Austin for Wednesday midday. So, in effect, I am trading the chickens for a day of time and a smoothly running bike. Fifth, I am going to save my next big bird finding battles for the Golden-cheeked warbler and the Black-capped vireo. The riding the next 3 weeks is going to be incredible difficult, and a detour right now only postpones the inevitable. Procrastination is not my style.

Today's ride ~75 miles

The prairie chicken scenario that I skipped

I did make one minor detour today to the Blue Bell Creamery in Brenham, TX. I was introduced to this ice cream a few weeks back, and I have been totally addicted ever since. I consumed a full pint each night I was in High Island! As today was very hot, I felt justified in a "quick" stop to sample a few flavors. I walked in with $20, and I walked out with much less. Scoops were only $1 each, so you can tell I did some real damage. Today's performance was not quite as epic as the 2013 Scooper Bowl  debacle in Boston, but it was close. 

At the creamery

Round 1 of ?

Looking a bit sick at Scooper Bowl 2013 in Boston!

Today, I encountered the first real hills that I have seen in months. These hills are only going to get more challenging as I move west in Texas this month and north into Colorado during subsequent months. I am definitely going to dump my tripod and telescope in Austin. This should save around 8-9 lbs. I should not need the scope much during my time in AZ, NM, CO, WY, ID, and OR. I will send it in to be serviced for these months and get it back when I reach California in September. I have also made the incredibly difficult decision to dump my camera for the summer months. This would save another 4.5lbs. I would love to have it with me, but if I am going to tote the laptop, them something else has got to go. A blog with no bird photos is better than no blog at all. Ditching the field guide will save another pound. Since it is a very old NGS book that is due for an upgrade anyway, I am going to tear out the flycatcher pages and bring those with me. I think I am pretty good on most other families. The bottom line is the weight is going to be EVERYTHING in the next few months, so I have to drop as much of it as possible. Today's stop at Blue Bell did nothing to help the weight reduction agenda. 

Today's ride became more scenic the farther I got from Houston. By the end of it, I was riding through rolling, grassy terrain that was dotted with oaks. I did manage to add Lark sparrow along the side of the road right at the end of the ride. It was a nice reward for a very hot 75 miles today (it was 92F).

OK, early to bed so I can get up early to start riding before it gets hot tomorrow. The north wind should keep it a bit cooler than today (~81F), so I've got that going for me!


  1. I got a few yellow-cheeks up in Balcones just northwest of Austin. I detailed it in my ebird report. I got the Viero today up at ft. hood on private property. Not sure where else I'd lead ya for that

    Good luck here in Texas.

  2. Dont ditch the camera! Ditch the ice cream pounds!

  3. I hope you reconsider the camera.
    There are some great light weight point and shoots available these days! Good luck!

  4. I suggest trying the mountains with the camera. Your legs have over 5000 miles of fitness in them, enough I think to be able to get that 4.5 lbs over the hills. And if not and the weight becomes the difference between making it and not making it to California there will be lots of opportunities to send away the camera at that time.

    The other reason of course to keep the camera is that you love taking pictures and we readers love looking at them.

    Lost Maples State Natural Area is where I've found both the Vireo and the Warbler in the past.

  5. You will be sad if you aren't able to take photos and share the birds with everyone, and your readers will be sad not to see them. Your photos don't have to be perfection. Isn't there a small digital camera you could use instead of your giant canon? Like a Nikon coolpix or some equivalent? Surely you know someone who has one they would let you borrow. I have a little canon digital camera that I don't use much anymore that you can borrow if I can find it and its charger. I recall it has a pretty decent zoom. Shoot me a text if you'd like to maybe borrow it and I could rustle it up and send it to you. Or buy the great Canon SX50!

  6. Kerr WMA is a great spot for Black-capped Vireo. The best spot I can think of that's open to the public. You can also find Golden-cheeked Warblers here although they are easier at Lost Maples SNA and this is a wonderful spot to bird. Good luck

  7. very nice looking website done a great job keep it up and then thank you for sharinig

  8. Hey Dorian! Nice to meet you at Anahuac 2 weekends ago. (You were admiring the Common Nighthawk perched on the fence post) My Mom and Aunt met you before you were off for the night. Thanks for snapping a pic with us. We are so proud of your adventure and it was a pleasure to see you in person!
    I live in Austin and saw 2 Golden-cheeked Warblers at Pedernales State Park recently. They hang out right along the path heading to "The Falls." From the parking lot near the falls, head down that path about 100-200 feet and you should hear them calling.
    Balcones Canyonland NWR is another great place to see both the Golden-cheeked and Black-capped Vireo.
    Can't wait to hear about your adventures in our neck of the woods. Safe travels!
    Brittney Hoch