The graph of this ride is deceiving. It was not very hilly.
This morning I did some birding in downtown Durango. Lewis's woodpeckers were all over the place, and I did well on swallows with Barn, Cliff, Violet-Green, and Northern rough-winged all making numerous appearances. I also had a beautiful and very vocal kingfisher flying up and down the Animas river. Technically, the best bird of the morning was the continuing female Ring-necked duck that has been kicking around downtown Durango for some time.
However, the actual best sighting of the morning was the Great blue heron that flew into the Durango Fish Hatchery at around 8:30am. He circled the facility once, landed on the edge of one of the hatchery ponds, and in less than 2 minutes captured an 11" trout from one of the ponds. He fought with it for a minute or two, swallowed the thing whole, and then flew back off down the river. The entire sequence took less than 5 minutes.
It has taken a lot of food to fuel my adventure this year. The all-U-can-eat buffet is the holy grail of food options as far as I am concerned. These places have no idea what kind of damage I can do. They're thinking "This skinny guy won't rip this place up, he's safe". BAM!!! Before they know what hit them all the Crab Rangoon is gone, and an all-points-bulletin has been put out for the missing General Tso's chicken. Pizza buffets, Chinese buffets, and Golden Corral have all fallen pray to Dorian "the locust" Anderson this year. My face is now being plastered in buffets around the country warning proprietors of the carnage that will befall their establishments should I find my way through their doors. It's like this.....
I mention this because I, with my proven buffet destroying prowess, was in complete awe of the efficiency with which the heron struck the Fish Hatchery Buffet this morning. His method and execution were deadly - surgical, if you will. He had it down to an exact science. If I am to keep pace with this eating machine I will have to streamline my approach at the next buffet I hit. But I digest........
After getting my brakes tuned up, I returned to the house to watch Croatia get robbed by poor officiating in the opening match of the World Cup. After the conclusion of this debacle, I hopped on the bike and took a very slow and relaxing ride north out of town. It was not as birdy as I had hoped, but I did have a nice conversation with professional cyclist Krista Park. I got a bit startled as she roared past me on the road. She doubled back to say hello, and we ended up in a 20 minute conversation on the roadside as a result. She is actually a mountain biker, but is training on roads since she is recovering from a shoulder injury. You can check out her blog at kristapark.blogspot.com. I would be WAY too scared to do the stuff she does!
The single best bout of birding I experienced today occurred right as I arrived at my hosts' house for the night. Just before I turned off the main road to their house, I crossed a small creek that looked perfect for American Dipper. I doubled back, fished out the binocs, did a quick scan of the creek, and immediately located 2 dippers (#472) a distance upstream. My intuition was spot on! I will check the stream again tomorrow morning as I would love to get a photo of them. My second year bird of the day was the Red-naped sapsucker (#473) that landed in a yard across the street my hosts' house just as I arrived. It stuck around long enough for a decent look before it rocketed down the street. It was nice to find these 2 birds with essentially zero effort! All of the birds I have added in the last few days have been added from the bike which means I have not been able photograph them. I am looking forward to some birding-by-foot where I can get the camera out a bit more. For those that are interested, I am keeping a cumulative and chronologic gallery of the best images from my year.
The dipper creek! They were about 70 yards up from here.
Tomorrow I will climb up to 11,000 feet as I head to Silverton, CO. On this ride I could encounter any number of higher elevation birds, so hopefully I'll be able to find a few more new ones along the road.
And the best part of the day? The Miami Heat lost by 20, again! Chumps.......