Friday, August 15, 2014

Aug 13 and 14 (Day 225 and 226) - LATE BREAKING NEWS! Slow birding streak broken snapped!

As per usual, Sonia did a really nice job with the blog while I was disconnected. My motel claimed to have internet, but it didn't work worth crap. Thus, the time I had hope to spend strategizing yesterday was mainly wasted. As Sonia mentioned, it is very hard to be apart for so long. However, knowing that she is only a phone call away means that although we are apart, we are not alone. We talk at least twice per day, so we have a good handle on what is going on with the other at most times. I am looking forward to the day that this arrangement ends. It will be nice to resume normal relations when 2014 finally concludes.

Throwback Thusday! Halloween 2009 - the height
of the Swine Flu pandemic!

I currently find myself in what I certainly describe as the birding low point of the trip to date. There has been an incredible amount of riding in the last 10 days (722, to be exact) and not a single new bird. In fact, there have been very few birds period over that time. The terrain has alternated between completely desolate on one hand and agricultural on the other; Neither is particularly conducive to birding. New birds are clearly going to be harder and harder to find as the year progresses, but it is really had to keep focus on the big picture when my ass and legs are so sore from all the fruitless riding. I know this stretch is necessary to position myself in more bird-rich and birding-friendly areas in subsequent weeks. Its just hard to remember that when I'm actually in the saddle each day during this stretch. There was one very nice moment yesterday when at a roadside pond I was able to find 8 shorebird species (Semipalmated, Least, Western Sandpipers, both Yellowlegs, Stilt, Killdeer, and Phalaropes too distant to safely ID).

Columbia River yesterday - Power lines are SO awesome, this
shot would stink without them.

Madame Dorian Park!

Ride from yesterday 8/13
49 miles on the map + 5 back to town for dinner = 54 total

Ride from today 8/14
90 miles on map + 2 around Ephrata + 6 to sparrow = 98 total

STOP THE PRESSES!!! I wrote the above at around 4pm while I was waiting for my host for the evening, Matt Yawney, to finish work. Matt actually got in contact with me last night. He offered me not only a place to stay, but some insight as to where I might find Sagebrush sparrow right near his house. This was a no brainer! I met him at his house after work, and we headed out to his local spot. After sorting through a few Lark, Vesper, and Brewer's sparrows, a sagebrush sparrow perched and gave us s serviceable look for year bird #515! The bird flew down the road and perched again before it dove into the sage san disappeared for good (despite much pishing). He was a bit far off for a photo. I will be riding through more good habitat tomorrow en route to Bridgeport, so I will spend a bit more time trying to see a few more of these. 

I say it all the time - Can't beat local knowledge!

I have also altered the route quite a bit from the last time I wrote. I have decided to go "all in" on the boreal birds in the North Cascades. I will push north right to the Canadian border with the hopes of finding Spruce Grouse, Boreal Chickadee, White-winged crossbill, and Gray-crowned rosy-finch. I am confident I will find Sooty grouse on this detour, so I should get this bird out of the way as well. It will be a lot of riding for birds that are going to be admittedly difficult to find even when I reach the proper habitat, but given that I have the time, I think it is worth it. Picking up even 1 or 2 of these birds (in additional to Sooty grouse) would make the long haul worthwhile. I am going to need every single species I can find to think about reaching 600, so despite the difficulties associated with these particular birds, I absolutely must make the effort to tick them. The "Go Big or Go Home" rally cry has become incredibly overused of late, but in this particular instance, I think its absolutely perfect. The scenery in the North Cascade should be fantastic, and it will be nice to revisit many of the spots I birded during Camp Cascades with Victor Emanuel Nature Tours in 1992! If I could get the rosy-finch, it would also mean I could skip fighting my way up Mt Rainier. I will have still Rainier as a backup spot as I move south. I should also start to find a few other Pacific Northwest birds once I reach the mountains (Varied thrush e.g.). I figure I am never going to do anything like this again, so I may as well push as hard as I can. I have even told my parents to get my passport ready to Fed Ex to me should a dash into Canada become required!

As for exactly what is going to happen in the Cascades and afterwards, I am still sorting this out. It would be great to drop out of the Cascades to the West and then cut down near Seattle. I am prepared to spend 5-6 days chasing the boreal birds. I can sort out what's next once I determine how the boreal bird finding is going. Making it to the Seattle area has been in the back of my head for a few weeks now. I think it would be really cool to say that I reached Boston, Miami, Seattle, and San Diego during my bicycle big year!

OK, I'm happy that there was some excitement today! I'm also happy I was fired up enough to write a slightly more interesting bog entry today. Hopefully more exciting birding is coming the next few days!


  1. Hey Dorian! The year bird paucity you're riding through right now is only due to the extreme clean-up success you had in Colorado thru Idaho! You'll get back to the "bird zone" in no time!

  2. Hey Dorian, 11,000 miles in to it I'm interested in the health aspect of your journey. Do you know about how much weight you've lost? Also, have you checked your resting heart rate? I realize you aren't doing this for the health benefits and I'm sure the calorie intake has to be off the charts, but I would be interested in hearing about how you are feeling healtwise.