August 6, 2017

Feathers and Friends

There was at least one club member who was disappointed to miss last week's outing. And the birds are still there, so ... let's do it again!

Cyclists heading north on the Bay Trail, Sunnyvale, California
Another strong turnout, including a couple of people who rode with us last week. Plus four biking friends who were curious enough to come over from the East Bay.

Snowy egret near the water's edge, San Francisco Bay tidal pond, Mountain View, California
This week, it was windy along the bay. Really windy. Which meant that most of the birds were hunkered down to hunt in coves where the levees offered something of a wind break. There were a couple of snowy egrets close to shore. The wind helped ruffle some feathers, giving us a look at the distinctive plumage that adorns the back of a snowy egret's head.

Red-tailed hawk perched on a fence post behind Moffett Field, Mountain View, California
Behind Moffett Field, this red-tailed hawk wasn't too concerned with us. “Wish I could get a better picture, if only it would turn around,” said one rider. “The bird needs to face into the wind, otherwise think what would happen with its feathers,” I suggested. Just as I'd put the camera away [of course], a brazen seagull swooped down over our heads to harass the hawk, leading to an aerial bird fight. (Just threats, no victim ... today.)

Last week I sensed that people would have preferred to head straight back after lunch, so this week we visited the Garden of Tasty Treats first. That worked out well, people were excited to pose for photos with their favorite droids. And as much fun as that can be, the birds are a tough act to follow.

Black-crowned night-heron perched on a tree branch, Mountain View, California
One of the Black-crowned Night-Herons was out of the nest, perched on a branch for all to admire.

Snowy egrets feeding their nestlings, Mountain View, California
The rookery more than made up for the meager sightings along the Bay. People laughed and rooted for some fledglings that were flapping around, testing their wings and making it a few feet off the ground to a window ledge. Commotion in one nest drew our eyes upward, where we had a clear view of snowy egrets feeding their young. I passed around my binoculars for everyone to get a closer view.

National Audubon Society logo on the back of the designer's bike jersey.
I was explaining how the National Audubon Society came to be, protecting these birds from being hunted to extinction. “Their logo features an egret,” I said. “Mike designed that!” exclaimed one rider, proudly. [Say what?!] We had a bona fide celebrity on our ride. The guy wearing the jersey that was covered with logos (for brands that you would recognize) was the graphic designer who created them!

For me, 52 miles with 1,000 feet of climbing. (For everyone else, 26 miles with 340 feet of climbing.)

Much to like about this route, if I do say so myself!

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