One last hug from Sonia
A quick 45 miles to Las Cruces
I rode Highway 28 for most of the trip today. This road snaked around agricultural areas that prominently featured roadside pecan groves. Birding these pecan groves from the road, I was able to tease out a single Plumbeous vireo from hoards of Yellow-rumped warblers for year bird #367. Further down the road I had a flyover Prairie falcon (#368), a perched female Black-headed grosbeak (#369), and a pair of Phainopeplas (#370). Today's temperature was very mild, the road was in good shape, and birds were plentiful; This was certainly one of the best rides of the year to date. As a bonus, The Organ Mountains to the east of Las Cruces provided a very pretty backdrop to an essentially perfect day. I also knocked into and chatted with another cross country cyclist today. Steve from the UK is riding the Southern Tier from San Diego, CA to St. Augustine, FL. We chatted for a few minutes and then each went our own, solitary ways down the road.
Female Black-headed grosbeak
in roadside pecan tree
Small church along Route 28
Road view with Pecan grove on right
The pecan groves came right up to the
road in some places!
Steve heading east, me heading west
Tonight I am staying with two local birders, Nancy and Ralph. I was connected with them through two other local birders, Helen and Al. The five us spent some time birding before we sat down to an amazing meal prepared by Helen. It is really nice to be staying somewhere other than a motel/hotel for the first time in 10-11 days. Birding the area around the house was very productive this afternoon. I was able to add Greater roadrunner (#371), Say's Phoebe (#372), and Gambel's quail (#373). These are all common southwestern desert species, and I will likely add a few more of this sort in the next few days.
BEEP BEEP! Greater roadrunner. He just stopped
for a few seconds then ran off again.
Verdin with nest material
Nancy, Ralph, Al, Helen
Ralph is actually the chair of the Biology Department at New Mexico State University here in Las Cruces. We spent much time this evening discussing the pros and cons of careers in academia and my decision to leave my post-doctoral position to embark on this trip. There are times when I wonder if I made the right decision to leave academia. I really enjoyed the time I spent doing research in an academic setting, and there was a time when I could not picture myself doing anything else. However, as my interests and priorities changed, it became clear to me that a career in academia was not going to make me as happy as I thought it once would. Right now I am certainly still in limbo as to what professional course my life will take as 2014 draws to a close and 2015 finally arrives. I think that at some point in the future, I will find a new calling that is just as strong for me as academic science once was. For the moment anyway, it is equally exciting and terrifying to think about what potential courses my future professional life will take. I have been saying all along that Biking for Birds has the potential to open a career door that I do not yet know exists. Maybe I'll land in teaching, maybe I'll go into politics, or maybe I'll work in non-profit realm. At this stage I just don't know. However, I do no know that my scientific training coupled with ability to conceive, plan, and execute Biking for Birds will make me one of the more unique job applicants around. I'm just going to keep an open mind and see what opportunities present themselves.