Monday, October 9, 2017

Post #119 - Fall Bay Area bike-birding, including DUSKY WARBLER! And Bike-Bird Photography too!

I moved from Los Angeles to San Mateo in May of this year. At that time, I had a partially torn calf muscle and did not do any biking for the first month that I was here. Once June rolled around my leg was well enough to do some local bike-birding, mostly along the flat shores of the San Francisco Bay right out the back of my apartment. My leg has since fully healed, and I have been getting correspondingly more adventurous as the summer has transitioned into fall and the birding has picked-up. Right now, I shoot for one 40- to 50-mile ride each week and whatever shorter jaunts along the bayshore time permits. I've got my last three pelagic trips of the fall this weekend, so once those shut down I'll have a bit more time to dedicate to terrestrial bike-birding.

Seawatching from Moss Beach!

I had a particularly good ride last week, one that took me first over the mountains to Moss Beach. From that vantage I was able to add pelagic species such as Sooty, Pink-footed, and Buller's Shearwaters, 3 birds not traditionally associated with bike-birding. I also had Golden-crowned Kinglet, Fox Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, and White-throated Sparrow, all of which were county bike-birds for me. Later, I rode back through Half Moon Bay where I added Laughing Gull, a nice bird this far north, and another pelagic bird, Parasitic Jaeger. From there is was a bit further south to grab Common Gallinule before again climbing the mountains to return home.
A stop at the beach in Half Moon Bay

Map of my ride.
54 miles, 2500 feet of climbing.

This past weekend was particularly exciting as a Dusky Warbler was found just a mile up the bayshore from my apartment. I jumped on my bike as soon as I received word of the bird and easily bagged it for my San Mateo County Bike List. Dusky Warbler was actually a bike lifer as it was not one of the 618 that I found during my bicycle Big Year in 2014. So that was really cool. It was my first bike-lifer since that effort. if this sounds familiar, that's because Roger Schoedl and I found a Dusky Warbler in Huntington Beach last year. Amazingly, we found that bird on October 8, 2016 and this bird appeared on October 8, 2017!


Dusky Warbler record shots




So, with the addition of that Old World warbler and Merlin on that same morning, I've now pushed my San Mateo County bike list to 180 species (most recent additions at end of post). All of those were collected on out-and-back efforts starting and ending at my home, so zero use of fuel at any point. Minus occasional car-chases for would-be ABA lifers and driving to pelagic trips, I've basically abandoned the car for purely birding purposes. I still use it for photography as that pastime often requires me to lug a lot of gear to wherever I'm going, often before the sun rises. I have, however, found a couple of photographically productive spots on the bayshore to which I can easily ride my bike. So, in that respect I guess I'm trying to make bike bird photography 'a thing' now as well. I'm pretty happy with the results so far, but you can judge for yourself. Those of you paying attention to the shooting info might notice that I've recently added the 5D Mark IV to my arsenal. I'll write more about it at some point, but I'll say now that I'm totally in love with it.

AGAIN, ALL OF THESE WERE TAKEN 
USING MY BIKE - NO CAR!

CLICK ON PHOTOS FOR LARGER, 
HIGHER RESOLUTION VIEWS!

Black-bellied Plover - Pluvialis squatarola
Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO II + 1.4x III on EOS 5D Mark IV
1/4000 at f/5.6, ISO 1250

Willet - Tringa semipalmata
Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO II + 1.4x III on EOS 5D Mark IV
1/5000 at f/5.6, ISO 800

Marbled Godwit - Limosa fedoa
Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO II + 2x III on EOS 5D Mark IV
1/3200 at f/8, ISO 1600

Marbled Godwit - Limosa fedoa
Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO II + 1.4x III on EOS 5D Mark IV
1/5000 at f/5.6, ISO 800


Most recent additions to San Mateo County Bike List

OK, that's it for now. There's a lot of stuff in this post, and I hope at least some of it inspires at least a few of you to ditch the car for a day and try out the bike instead. It's way more fun and rewarding than driving everywhere!

4 comments:

  1. What an awesome bike bird. I am always incredibly stoked when I read about your continuing bike-birding exploits. My Allen County, Indiana bike list is currently sitting at 185, and I am kicking around the idea of how an Indiana green big year would work.

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    1. Thanks! I've been wondering when I'd get the chance to chase some asian super-rarity; I was just so surprised that I didn't have to go but a mile from my house!

      As for your Big Year idea, just go for it, especially if you don't have much holding you down. That's not to say it isn't worth doing if you work a lot or have a family, just that the logistics will be a bit more challenging - and in some ways more rewarding. If the idea is there, do it. Don't wait.

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  2. My bird bike's a Surly too. I haven't taken that far a ride yet, but I've done some bike-birding around south San Diego Bay, Cuyamaca State Park, Coronado, and around my neighborhood. I've even thrown my scope in my pannier for a a few spots on Silver Strand. It's a great way to see a lot of spots that aren't easily accessible on foot or car.

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    1. Yeah, Surlys are so great. I had zero problems with my the entire year save for normal wear and tear on cables and such. It survived many falls and crashes with no damage. San Diego is a great place for bike-birding. Its got a lot of habitats clustered close together, just like the Bay Area!

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