Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cycling North Along the Coast

Today, I started with my usual 30 minute dog walk from home (52 species) and then loaded up my bike with my tripod, scope, lunch, day pack for my new pannier, and some walking shoes. I stopped a few routine bayside stops like the Baywood Pier,the overlook of the bay at the end of Seventh in Los Osos (see my map link), and on South Bay Blvd., on the way to Morro Rock to look for Canyon and Rock Wrens and a Red-necked Grebe that had been sporadically reported recently. My first new BIGBY bird was a Brown Creeper that sang a high pitched "trees, trees, beautiful trees" as I pedalled past Sweet Springs Nature Preserve. As I rode down State Park Road, near the Morro Bay State Park campground, a Lesser Yellowlegs flew along with me for a short distance and called for #2 (there are advantages to bike birding). I stopped briefly at Bayshore and Olive Overlooks of the bay and then continued on to Morro Rock. The waves were big and the mouth was very rough so it was difficult to scope grebes and impossible for sea birds. The usual contingent of tourists daring the waves on the nearby jetty was gone - swept out to sea or maybe the weather kept them in the Valley? A Canyon Wren did call a couple of times (#3), but no Rock Wrens (at least that I could hear over the sound of the surf). I scoped to the north of the Rock and could see birds, including many Surf Scoters and one female Long-tailed Duck (#4)that stood out because it was so white. Still no Rock Wren, but I did pick out one Herring Gull (#5) in a mixed flock of gulls. I stopped on the way up to Estero Bluffs at the beach near Old Creek mouth, but the people, dogs, and high surf chased away any Snowy Plovers that had been there earlier in the week (not a good weekend spot). I made a beeline for Estero Bluffs and locked my bike below the lot with a large fig tree adjacent to it. This is one lot past the windmill lot. From here, I thoroughly checked the coast to the north and south but found no Ruddy Turnstones or Wandering Tattlers (reported 2 days earlier). It was a nice day for a walk, but birding was slow at the bluffs trail. I was, however, surprised by the high number of Red-breasted Mergansers (at least 40) and a roost of almost 30 Royal Terns. Black Oystercatchers and Spotted Sandpipers were in several spots as well. The ride home was without much birding as I needed to get back. I always have to laugh as I go north on the main drag in Cayucos because there is a sign which shows the speed of all vehicles (including bikes). It is on a slight uphill grade and it always reminds me how slow I really am (14 mph at this spot)! In all, I biked about 40 miles and walked about 5 miles today.

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