Thursday, March 01, 2018

Country Views: The Migration Is In Motion

The roads South of town weren't too bad, but they weren't too good either!
I took some time yesterday to go out and explore some gravel roads South of town to see what condition things are in. The typical route was chosen- Aker, Quarry Road, Beck Road- roads I know well. However; I didn't ride to the gravel. Nope! I loaded up the Truck With No Name and hauled my bike to Prairie Grove Park, where the next Geezer Ride will start in just a little over three weeks.

The roads weren't too bad, but you had to really pay attention to your lines. Some lines were solid and you could really fly while some were soft and when you hit them it was like someone was holding your brake lever halfway down. I think the frost is coming out now, but it isn't all the way out. Some parts of the road were actually fluffy. You definitely do not want to ride into that out there!

I had heard about how some gravel riders in Southern Iowa had been seeing and hearing the snow geese migration. I also had heard rumors of Robins being back in Black Hawk County already. So,while I am no ornithologist, I do like to try to see birds out in the country. Besides just riding, this was one of my chief goals for the day. I hadn't ever heard or seen anything migrate other than song birds and Canadian Geese, which are a dime a dozen in Iowa.

Maybe the Canadian Geese need to actually become citizens of the U.S. I mean, they are here all year anyway. Oh well.......

Here you can kind of see how the roads are a bit soft and mucky, but really, they aren't unrideable at all.
I went to the parking lot of Prairie Grove Park and switched out shoes to my old Fasterkats. Then I took off. The wind was kind of out of the North, so I had a tailwind, but it really wasn't very windy yesterday. The sky was partially overcast with high, thin cloud cover. I was hoping I would catch a glimpse of the migrating geese, and I would crane my neck around looking skyward from time to time, hoping I would see them.

I didn't see any signs of Robins, nor did I hear them, but I don't doubt that they are here. The snow is largely gone with the exception of drifts in the ditches. I did pass a grove of evergreens that was producing the tell-tale warbles of the Red Winged Blackbird. So, they are back, at least. Then I heard my favorite call, the song of the Western Meadowlark. Those birds always remind me of my stays at my grandparent's farm as a child.

I even saw a Bald Eagle on the way South, but sadly, no geese! Maybe I missed them, or maybe they were flying at such an altitude that they were above the clouds? I don't know, but the video I saw on Facebook of migrating snow geese showed them very high up. I was not very confident I'd see or hear anything. I guess they sound like yelping puppies from afar.

Rest stop on Quarry Road.
I had decided to ride to the intersection of Aker Road and Quarry Road and then take a short break. I leaned my bike up against the bridge railing and then....... what is that? I turned to the North where I thought the sound I heard was coming from.There it was again! Yelping puppies! Only they weren't puppies, they were migrating geese waaaaay up in the sky! 

Now these geese weren't white, or obviously so, like the ones I saw on the Facebook video, these were darker colored. But they sounded exactly the same. It was a huge formation so high up I kept losing sight of them, although I could hear them clearly in the quiet of the countryside. I stood there gazing at the clouds untill I couldn't hear them anymore.

The Bald Eagle showed up again during my last rest stop going home.
I went East then back North up hilly Beck Road till I got back to Petrie Road and then back to Aker. The Level B section of Petrie is still under a blanket of snow. It will be a couple of weeks or so before any of us can traverse that stretch of road. I decided to stop at my usual spot on Aker before finishing up my ride, hoping I'd see some Robins. However; the place was deserted, and then I saw why. A big Bald Eagle flew up into one of the towering evergreens on the property. Eventually it took flight, circled around, and I got a pretty good shot of it.

It wasn't a long ride, but I am way out of shape, and I have to start working myself back up to the longer rides here. Gotta start somewhere. The migration of birds is in full swing, and my migration back to riding gravel is as well.


Cory said...

Nice article Ted. I know what you mean by out of shape. This winter season has hit me harder than any previous. I am approaching 47 and some days I feel like 57. The gravel around here is really sloppy. I went for a ride yesterday and chose to keep it on pavement on my road bike. A short little 10 mile jaunt with some good climbs. Talk about baby steps lol. Got to get ready for the covered bridges ride coming up! Thanks for the pictures.

Guitar Ted said...

@Cory Edd- Some days you feel like 57?!! Hey now! That hits close to home, because that's how old I am! LOL!!

Thanks for reading and I hope you get your fitness back soon and can enjoy that covered bridges ride. April 28th, isn't it? That will be here sooner than we think!

blooddoc23 said...

Bird watching is one of life's great pleasures. Was wandering if you all had a local Audubon society in rural IA?