To reach the inn, I would have to climb nearly 3,000' over the course of ~44 miles this morning. I figured I could do this ride in under 4 hours. I left my motel at 6:20am and arrived at the inn at 9:45am - just as figured. From what I had been able to piece together from the posts about this bird, it looked as though the prime time was going to be 10am-noon. Over the past 4 days, the bird has been seen feeding in the tops of palms, drinking from the edge of the lagoon, and wandering about on the lawn adjacent to the lagoon. I was willing to take whatever look I could get today.
When I arrived, there were several other folks milling/walking about the the ground looking for the bird. The area was pretty small so if one person found the bird, it would be essay to tell others. I decided to start out under a group of fruiting palms adjacent to the lagoon. Not ten minutes after I had set up shop, a robin of some sort flew into the palm tops. It immediately disappeared into the fronds without being identified. After staring into the palm tops for ten minutes, the robin reappeared long enough for me to identify it as the Rufous-backed. Incredible! 14 hours of biking and a 15 minute search produced perhaps the most well-earned bird of the year. The bird moved around a bit, but, with a bit more patience, I was able to get a few decent shots of it. Year bird #583 was documented! Whew - this would have been an incredibly painful miss. I'm not sure if I was more relieved or excited, but I'll take it either way. This was not a lifer as I saw 2 of these in Arizona of few winters back.
Lagoon at 29 Palms Inn
Other birders enjoying the robin
The star of the day, Rufous-backed robin for #583!
There was also a White-throated sparrow hanging around the lagoon
I kicked around the ground until around 11:30 or so. I had several other views of the robin before it disappreaed into a thicket off inn property. At this time I decided to hit the road. I had a long way to get back onto my original track, and, the more distance I could make today, the less distance I would have to cover back to Brawley tomorrow. I spent the next 5 hours backtracking to Indio. I thought about trying to ride through Joshua Tree NP, but it would have required more climbing than my legs could have handled this afternoon. I was able to make it all the way back to Indio - just in time for the first pitch of Game 6. As it was, I ended up riding 114 miles today. That means I've done 225 miles in the last 2 days - ouch! I am now completely wiped out, but I can take solace in the fact that I "only" have 75 flat miles to reach Brawley tomorrow. I should have platy of energy for Game 7!
114 miles today for back-to-back 100+ mile days
The road today
Lots of hills today. I'm descending west in the afternoon here.
OK, that's it. Time for bed. I'm going to sleep like a rock.