A surprisingly hard 36-miles today
Heavy winds from the northeast were forecast for today, and, unfortunately, the weather folks were spot on. The wind was banging from the NE as soon as I hit the road at 8am this morning. The wind built from 15 to 20 MPH with gusts upwards of 25. This made the slow climb to Patagonia a real headache, and by the time I reached Patagonia, I had had my fill for the day. The winds remained at a steady 20-25 MPH all afternoon. This crushed any birding plans I had for the afternoon. I instead relaxed and spent time hanging out with my hosts for the night, Alex and Jill Johnson.
Tomorrow I am going to leave at 5am to to ride up to the San Rafael Grasslands to begin the search for Baird's sparrow. Everyone has told me that it is imperative that I be there right at sunrise as the birds often sit on the wire fences to warm up as the sun first hits the valley. They apparently utilize the fences for only the first few hours of the day before disappearing into the long grass for the remainder of the day. The birds can be flushed by walking the grasses, but they have a frustrating tendency to dive right back into the grass before a decent view is afforded. I am hoping to get one perched in the open and avoid walking the grasses. The only potentially confounding factor tomorrow could be the wind. It is again going be blowing from the northeast with some strength. It will certainly be calmest in the early morning, but I am hopping that it is calm enough that the birds aren't bothered.
Actually, the wind looks as though it is going to be a big problem for the next few weeks. I thought that the prevailing winds in the Southwest (AZ, NM, TX) at this time of year would be from the west. I figured that the eastbound transit of his region would be easier than the outbound, westbound, leg in May. This does not look like it is going to be the case. It now looks as though I will have to account for the wind during each day of journey to South Texas. Here is the wind outlook for SE AZ for the next few days.
What this means is that I will not be able to make the miles that I had hoped during these days. I can see that there is a general SE flow across Texas at the moment (Ugh). This means I will essentially be riding into the wind the entire way to South Texas. I am not happy about this. I am happy that I did not linger longer in California. I am SO glad I got across Western Arizona with tailwinds. I think it was very wise to start the journey to South Texas with time in hand. Even if the winds blow strongly and the crossing takes longer than anticipated (expected 12-14 days, but maybe it takes 18-20), I will still have plenty of time to bird South Texas. Should the wind issue miraculously disappear, then the worst thing that happens is that I have loads of time in South Texas. Right wind is the single biggest variable in the rest of my year. It is frustrating since I have ZERO control over it, and it has the potential to make my life a living hell on the days when it does blow hard from the east. Its never easy.....