Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Oct 28 (Day 301) - The chase is on, part 2!

After covering 111 miles to North Palm Springs yesterday, I still had to cover the remaining ~45 to the Rufous-backed robin spot the morning. The bird has been seen four days running (as of yesterday) on the grounds of the 29 Palms Inn. The inn is a collection of cottages surrounding a small, tree-lined lagoon. This riparian/wet spot in an otherwise surrounding dry desert is a well-known migrant trap for local birders. The inn has apparently always permitted birders to walk the grounds provided that they don't pester guests. It is really nice to see an establishment allow birders access to such a nice good birding spot.

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.


  1. A big congratulations on this successful chase! I am very happy for you that you got this bird! Keep up the amazing year!

    By the way I think Brown Booby is a code 3 bird, your list shows it not to be.

  2. Unbelievable! An incredible twitch! -Dave

    1. So fricking tired. I could hardly walk out to get dinner....

  3. This is so awesome, glad you scored this bird!

  4. Congratulations, Dorian! Well done.

  5. Congratulations Dorian. Reading the comments from yesterday and especially those from Eric of Gothenburg Sweden, made me wonder just how many people around the world are reading your blog. I am in Canberra Australia have been reading it since early January. I thoroughly enjoy every daily update, keep up the good work and keep finding those birds.Alastair

  6. Woohoo! You started my day off with a big grin! Congratulations.

  7. Nice!
    Feral Cyclist