First, A big "thank you" to Robbie Spencer from CaptivaSanibel.com. Robbie not only gave my adventure a great write-up, but was also instrumental in orchestrating my visit to see the Red Sox spring training game in Fort Myers last week. A link to his article can be found here. Big props!
Now back to your regularly scheduled blog update....
Total was ~67 miles with some unmapped riding
I started the day with a ~39 mile sprint north to Hernando Beach where a few of these birds have been observed in the course of the last few months. Here, I met up with Florida birding guru Bill Pranty who would help me search for the birds. Bill literally wrote the book on bird finding in Florida. I have used his guide on my previous trips to Florida and found it very helpful. Bill, two friends of his, and I looked around Hernando Beach without success. We did find a Yellow-throated warbler running around on a lawn. I have always seen this bird in its usual treetop habitat, so it was nice to see one so well today. This is the first time I have seen this bird this year although I did hear one in St. Augustine, Florida earlier in the month.
Yellow-throated warbler next to a house
D-rock with Bill Pranty
Bill's Florida Bird Guide
As a last resort, Bill called another friend, Leslie, who he thought might have Budgerigars ("Budgies") at her house. It turned out that she had observed Budgies at her house just a few minutes earlier. I immediately hopped on the bike and made it to her house in about 40 minutes. I arrived at 1:15 and despite sitting vigil at her feeder array until 5:45, no Budgies materialized for me this afternoon. Leslie was good company, and she had a very comfy deck chair from which I was able to observe her feeder array. The best bird of the day was a Hooded warbler (#246) that spent the afternoon bouncing around her yard. I was able to manage a record photo of the bird. I also had some fun trying my hand at hummingbird photography for the first time. Leslie had a particularly popular plant that 2 Ruby-throats visited frequently. As Budgerigar would be a REALLY good bird for me to add to my year and life lists, I think I am going to return to Leslie's tomorrow morning for one last crack at this bird. I feel that if I don't tick this bird for my year list this year, I may never tick it for my life list either. This will mean an extra 28 miles of riding tomorrow, so this decision does represent a significant detour for me.
D-rock with Leslie
Hooded warbler - just glad to get it "on film"
I survived 66.5 miles of my 67-mile ride today without incident. However, I did get a very sudden flat tire just short of my final destination. I walked the bike to the house, and I figured I would deal with the tire after a shower and dinner. When my host and I looked at the wheel, we immediately noticed that one of my spokes was completely busted. Earlier in the day I was riding along when I heard a sharp metallic "ping". I thought something had hit my wheel, but whatever it was had apparently caused no damage (or so I thought). I continued riding without incident. Later in the day, I noticed that my front wheel was running untrue. I did not make the connection between the ping I heard on the road and the untrue wheel until I saw the broken spoke. The "ping" I heard was the spoke breaking; Uneven tension caused by the remaining spokes subsequently caused the wheel to run untrue. My host (Alan) and I worked together to fix the spoke and retrue the wheel. Luckily my bike came with 2 extra spokes! Everything looks fine at the moment. I expect to proceed tomorrow as expected. Exactly how the flat might have been connected to the broken spoke I am not 100% certain, and, to be honest, I just don't care at the moment. The bike, much like the Death Star, is "fully operational" at the moment.