You think that’s not possible? I’ll admit it has its challenges, but it’s definitely do-able. You have to listen more carefully to hear the birds over the crunch of your bike tires on gravel, and be ready to stop on a dime. And make sure to have your binoculars within easy reach. I wear mine on a binocular harness (like this), and Eric wears his just on the regular binoc strap around his neck. (I keep meaning to get him a harness too, as I think it would be much more comfortable for bike birding.) So with all those preparations and my camera stowed on the back of my bike, we hit the Polly Ann Trail today to see what we could find.
We did a round trip of 15 miles in two-and-a-half hours, so that should give you an idea of how much time we spent stopped for birds (either that or we’re really slooooow bikers, LOL). This trail is much more rural than the Paint Creek Trail (PCT) that runs through our neighborhood, with lots of horses, barns and fences to serve as photo subjects for me in between birds.
Even though it’s closer to home, some days it’s more hassle than it’s worth to navigate the PCT, with all the walkers, runners, and bikers with baby carriages behind them. We drove about ten miles north to get on the Polly Ann in Leonard, Michigan — a nice little drive through the resort community of Lakeville with its winding rural road. There were plenty of other bikers on the trail, but nowhere near the numbers on the Paint Creek Trail, which was another good thing.
So, you want to know about the birds we found, right? Here’s the list I’ll be entering on eBird later:
- Wood Duck
- Green Heron
- Cedar Waxwing
- European Starling
- American Goldfinch
- House Finch
- Northern Cardinal
- Black-capped Chickadee
- American Crow
- Eastern Kingbird
- Gray Catbird
- Turkey Vulture
- Baltimore Oriole – beautiful male on the top branch of a tree
- American Robin
- Northern Flicker
- Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
- Blue Jay
My favorites from today were the Green Herons and Baltimore Oriole. I had trouble finding Green Herons earlier this summer, even though a birding friend told me where they could be found “no problem”. And birders on our listserv have been speculating that the Baltimore Orioles are beginning to head south, so the pretty boy we saw was probably getting ready to go too. We’ll sure miss our summer birds, but I also love the anticipation of seeing who just might fly through our yard in the fall. Maybe some of the beautiful warblers we saw in May, although they’ll be in drabber fall plumage now and a bit harder to identify.
Right now we’re seeing lots more shorebirds and ducks coming through, and as I wrote in my previous post, I’m making a concerted effort to learn to distinguish them from one another. I’m writing up an account of our Oakland Audubon Society trip to Pointe Mouillee yesterday, and will post that in the next few days. It was exciting, overwhelming, educational, and more!
As I sit here on the deck typing this, I keep stopping to grab my binocs to check out the many birds who are living in our yard right now. At one point I see three Tufted Titmice on the birdbath with a hummingbird on a branch behind them. A moment later the two female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are battling over one of the feeders. And two Eastern Kingbirds are tittering high up in the tree beside me. The juvenile Blue Jays are making sure we all know they’re here too. And I just heard the Great Crested Flycatcher that Eric told me he’d seen this morning, right before two Northern Flickers came through. What an awesome Bird-tastic ecotherapy day!
Have you looked out your window today?