Saturday, February 1, 2014

Feb 1 (Day 32) - 1,000-mile mark cracked, Feeling a bit lonely today

Its official, I today crossed the 1,000-mile mark as I made 52 miles from Richmond to Wakefield, VA! I figure that it will take about a 1,000 miles a month to reach all the areas that I hope to reach this year, so I'm off to a really good start. As the weather gets better and the days get longer, it will be easier to balance biking and birding. Unfortunately at the moment, my activities are heavily tilted to the former as I traverse the relatively bird thin areas of Maryland and Virginia.  I probably have another 3-4 days of moderate to heavy riding and very little birding. Once I get south of Greenville, NC I expect the birding to heat up. I did add American pipit (#128) in some farm fields along the road this afternoon. I saw them in three places over the course of a few hours.

American Pipit from my stock - click for bigger image

One bird I am starting to stress a bit about is American Woodcock. I should be able to find this bird somewhere, I just don't have a sure fire spot lined up. What I really need is someone who has them displaying near his/her house in North or South Carolina. There are currently 60(!) of them being seen in a residential neighborhood on Oak Island, NC south of Wilmington. It appears as though the unusually cold weather has pushed large numbers of these birds from inland areas towards to more temperate coasts. It is going to take me at least 5-6 days to get to this area, and I have no idea if these birds will stick around until I can reach them. So, any ideas on where to find these birds in the Tarboro/Greenville/New Bern/Washington/Jacksonville/Wilmington regions or anywhere along the South Carolina coast would be helpful.

Today's ride was very monotonous as I made about 3 turns all day. The first 24 miles or so were along Route 1 and endless strip malls while the last 28 were along Route 460 that connects Petersburg and Norfolk VA. Route 460 was in fairly bad shape and there was a bit of a headwind, so I spent a fair bit of time looking at the pavement to avoid potholes and minimize the impact of the wind. For the first time, I started to feel a bit lonely late this afternoon. As I had been sitting on the bike for 4 hours at that stage, this is not altogether surprising. I spent a lot of this time thinking about my girlfriend and the time I that I now do not spend with her. When I was in New England and the Mid-Atlantic areas, I did not feel that physically far away from her. Now, as I ride further south, the reality is setting in that she is getting farther and farther away. Yes, we can talk by phone, but we all know its not the same as seeing each other in person. She has been incredibly supportive, and today when I talked to her she seemed to give me strength that I did not think I had for the last bit of my ride. With her behind me, I know that I am never alone.

However, there is one BIG problem that we face in our relationship right now. Sonia is a HUGE Los Angeles Kings fan (Yes, LA has a professional hockey team. They are a bit "soft" but otherwise respectable), and I am die-hard Philadelphia Flyers supporter. The two teams play each other tonight so we'll see if we're still together tomorrow (especially if the Flyers trounce the Kings). Hopefully, the two teams will never meet in the Stanley Cup Finals or it could get ugly in our house! 

Every once in a while Sonia presses me into service as Kings fan. Here is a photo of us from the Kings television broadcast when we attended a Kings-Devils game in New Jersey (a friend took a photo of her TV in LA when we came on!)

*update Flyers won 2-0 and she's still taking my calls!


  1. Hey Dorian! I have yet to add an American Woodcock to my life list, so I'll be of little help in terms of a "sure fire spot", but according to the North Carolina Birding Trail site list, you may be somewhat likely to see one a few miles north of New Bern, NC at Weyerhaeuser's Cool Springs Environmental Education Center. They have it listed as "fairly common" in the winter, plus it looks like you may be able to arrange some time with the site manager, who may be able to help you find a woodcock. And since dusk seems to be a good time to spot them, you may be able to stop by there just before heading into New Bern for the night.

    I hope that helps, or that someone else has a more sure fire bet on finding one!
    Christi Mobley