Like a Bird on the Wire - Northwest passages: riding out the storm - CycleBlaze

June 26, 2020

Like a Bird on the Wire

Another hot one, but hopefully the last of these we’ll see before we skip town and move north next week.   The sort of day that works best if we each deal with it in our own way.  

Rachael, sensible as always, grabs the best hours of the day by leaving early before it heats up.  She’s off on a lucky horseshoe ride, biking down the east side of the river to Peoria Park and its convenient restroom again, and then backtracking to town before continuing down the west side to Kiger Island.  43 miles later she’s back at home by noon, happily loafing around in front of the fan.

Insensible Scott considers an early start also, but the lure of breakfast and coffee is too strong.  He doesn’t finally hit the road until about ten, and when he does he thinks he’ll head south to the Finley Refuge again.  It’s still comfortable out, but it doesn’t take him long to conclude that biking the gravelly, dusty roads at Finley lacks appeal after all.  Instead, he starts aimlessly wandering the backroads, planning just to put in enough miles so that he won’t feel sheepish when he reports his distance to Rachael when he returns home.

Actually, this sort of aimless drifting has become one of his favorite types of outing.  He likes taking his time, looking around for something new or unusual to catch his interest.  It’s a trait that augers well for him in the future, when he becomes too rickety and enfeebled to hop on his bike and climb the nearest mountain.  He should still be able to entertain himself while getting a bit of fresh air and exercise.

Oh, wait.  Perhaps that future is already here?  How long has it been since he charged up a mountain anyway?

Biking on Kiger Island, he looks up and sees a kestrel on the wire ahead of him.  He considers stopping for a photo, but as kestrels will this one immediately flies off and teases him by realighting a hundred yards further down the line.  Not long after, he comes across a morning dove perched above, but it too quickly flaps away.

Finally, he looks up and sees a goldfinch above, just sitting there.  He’s been hoping for a photo of this bright bird, a common but elusive presence here in mid-summer, but they’re always too flighty.  The moment you see them, they’re gone.  This one though - it’s like he’s inviting him to take its photo, so of course he does.

An American Goldfinch, in an uncharacteristically still moment.
Heart 6 Comment 2
Bill ShaneyfeltNice! They continue to elude me with their flighty ways.
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1 week ago
Jen GrumbyA very handsome bird!
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1 week ago

A minute later, Leonard Cohen’s great song Bird on the Wire pops into Scooter’s head, implants itself in a hollow space there, and accompanies him for most  rest of the ride.  It nags at him, and a theme for the day’s ride emerges: how many species of birds on the wire can he spot today, and get close enough to for a recognizable photograph?  

It’s a shame he didn’t think of this earlier and try harder with that kestrel and mourning dove.  I won’t see another of either species all day.  He does acore a few more over the next hour though, on Kiger Island and then a bit further south on Smith Loop.

Two!! House finch? I’m not sure here, because I didn’t get much of a look before he quickly moved on.
Heart 2 Comment 2
Bill ShaneyfeltLooks like it might be a Cassin's finch.

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Cassins_Finch/id
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltI think you’re likely right, after comparing the female house and Cassin’s. The notched tail and eye ring seem like pretty good indicators.
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1 week ago
On Kiger Island I briefly cross paths with Rachael nearing the end of her ride. I have to shoot fast, as she doesn’t slow down at all as she races past. Does this bird count? Probably not - a steel tube doesn’t really classify as a wire.
Heart 4 Comment 4
Ron SuchanekThe swift Rachael was gracious to tolerate our relatively sluggish biking pace when we rode with you guys last week.
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6 days ago
Scott AndersonTo Ron SuchanekI’ve conditioned her well. She’s gotten used to sluggish company long before now.
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6 days ago
Rachael AndersonTo Ron SuchanekI thoroughly enjoyed bicycling with both of you and it was a perfect pace.
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6 days ago
Ron SuchanekTo Rachael AndersonIt was a great ride.
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5 days ago
Three!!! Scrub jay, of course.
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Four!!!! This bird was a ways off and backlit, so I didn’t get the best look. At first I thought it was a Brewers blackbird, but now I think crow. Nice bug, too!
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Jen GrumbyA bird on a wire with a bug
A cricket? A fly? Or a slug?
He looks down with a smile
As I turn the focal dial
And asks, "Hey! Is that Brian or Doug?"

(Clearly that bird needs some glasses!)
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1 week ago
Five!!!!! Violet-green swallow.
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Scott’s feeling optimistic at this point, and starts mentally running through the local bird species he can hope to see wired up; and starts ruminating on why some species will perch on wires and others won’t - differences in foot structure, eyesight, security needs and diet must all play a role.  He’s thinking that if he’s really lucky he might get up to ten today.

But then, after a run of five species, the wire scene dries up.  It must be getting too warm out, and the birds have all headed for cover.  He gives himself a mental kick for not getting an earlier start, and cycles on.

It’s OK though.  Five is respectable, and there’s more to life than birds.  By the time he makes it back home he’s stumbled on a few other sights to excite him, discovered some new roads he’s anxious to share with Rachael, and covered a respectable distance that he’s not embarrassed to report out when he finally rolls in.  

Image not found :(
Majestic oak and modest mountain.
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Tandem act.
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This was really great. This youngster was hiding in the shade up ahead, and just let me keep getting closer after I dismounted and inched forward on foot. I’m pretty sure I was within thirty yards of it before it finally cantered away.
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I’ve been hoping to see another bottle tree after reading an interesting article about them: https://www.wideopencountry.com/bottle-trees-uniquely-southern-tradition/.
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Have we seen this before? I don’t think so.
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Bill ShaneyfeltNew to me. Might be vervain.

https://gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org/species/verbena/bonariensis/
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltLooks convincing to me. A pretty plant, isn’t it?
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1 week ago
Bill ShaneyfeltTo Scott AndersonYes, most Verbena species I've looked up are quite pretty.
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1 week ago
Six!!!!!!
Heart 2 Comment 0
Biking east on Decker Road, a new one to me. I like this type of terrain, at the margin between the valley floor and the foothills.
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The Independent School, now the Independent Community Center. Opened in 1919, closed in 1952.
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Ride stats today: Scott: 40 miles, 700’; Rachael: 43 miles, 400’

Rate this entry's writing Heart 8
Comment on this entry Comment 8
Bill ShaneyfeltNice collection of nature shots today!
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1 week ago
Gregory GarceauI've been reluctant all my life, but your bird pictures today just might have convinced me that I should get an actual camera that can zoom in on wildlife.
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Gregory GarceauDo it! The Panasonic SZ60, with its 30x zoom and image stabilization, is still available and a super deal ($248 on Amazon) because it’s not the latest model.
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltThanks! The day surprised me a bit. I’ve ridden most of this already and wasn’t really expecting much. I wasn’t sure I was even going to bother writing it up.
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1 week ago
Ron SuchanekJohnny Cash did a great version of the song during his American Recordings work with Rick Rubin.
https://youtu.be/6eY7bGaccWI
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6 days ago
Scott AndersonTo Ron SuchanekYes, I heard that listening to versions for this post. I might like it better than the original, really. I loved Cohen and this song. I’ve regretted many times not going to hear him when he came to Portland on one of his final tours.
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6 days ago
Jacquie GaudetI went to one of his concerts in Vancouver. It must have been between 27 and 32 years ago because I went with Al before kids. He sounds so very young in the version you've linked. This one is quite different https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGvwvxA83Cs
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6 days ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetYes, I heard that version in looking for this one. I started listening to him in the late sixties, and owned the album this came out on. This is the sound I always associate with him.
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6 days ago