Mountain Bike Birding

Before three days ago, I had never mountain biked in my life. Now that I am a pro at my new sport, I have expanded my exercise to include birding. If you have never used a super zoom camera, getting away from a trailhead via hiking or in my case … mountain biking will immediately help you understand the usefulness of a bridge or super zoom camera. It would be 100% impossible to bring a DSLR with a decent zoom on a bike, but my Canon Sx-60 fits nicely in a camera case strapped to my handlebars. See my photo taken yesterday morning up atop a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Some things I have learned via my two birding rides which will be incorporated into tomorrow’s 6 am jaunt. First, I will strap my monopod to my bike. It is hard to hold a camera steady when the body is heaving from heavy breathing. Mountain biking definitely gets the blood running! Second, I will have a washcloth along to wipe sweat and condensation off my camera. A few photos I took this morning were through a steamed over lens. Drying same on a sweaty bike jersey is sub-optimal!

Thus, here are today’s images … and another bird ID challenge. I have named the first bird the Fork Tailed Bike Bird (edit addition: figured it out on my own …  Turquoise-Browed Motmot) while the second bird is a Blue Grosbeak. Apparently SW Minnesota in the extreme northern edge of this birds range, while Costa Rica is at the very south side of it’s range.

Finally, at the end of yesterday’s mountain bike ride I heard a loud hourse howling or yelling. Twas not a bird, but I

Upon looking up to the high canopy of trees,I was rewarded with the sight of Howler Monkeys. Cool!

Return of the Funky Petite Penguin

Yes … it’s that time again when I challenge my readers to help me ID birds found via my world wide travels. Last spring while bike touring in Scotland, I discovered the Funky Petite  Penguin! My rules are simple. I create names for the birds that I find, but cannot ID. You … my readers comment with the real ID. Please realize if I like my “made up” name better, perhaps I will never edit the post! 🙂

Thus … let the Costa Rican bird ID olympics begin! Cue the music. Today’s two competitors … the Yellow-Breasted Bug Eyed Grosbeak and the White-Throated Black Masked Finch.


In addition over the past 24 hours I’ve found (real bird names): the Gray Capped Flycatcher, and the White Throated Magpie Jay.

Many of these birds were found while mountain biking up and down the steep Pacific hills around 6 am in the morning … when both the birds are more active and the heat is not so oppressive. Thankfully the sun finally sets and one gets to watch both birds and humans fishing in the waning light of the day.

Not in Kansas anymore!

Dorothy … you’re not in Kansas anymore!!!

Early this week I was bicycling in a snow flurry along the cold, windy shores of Lake Superior. Yesterday, in 85F heat, along with Molly we both went mountain biking for the first time in our lives. I figured at age 61 it was time to try something new in life!

Given the name of the sport includes “mountain”, we biked up and down steep trails next to the Pacific Ocean. Uff dah! Scarier going down than up. In addition. without meaning to I often popped wheelies on the uphills during particularly steep climbs. Finally throw in 85F heat and humidity just to make things interesting. We both survived. Molly took two minor falls. I somehow avoided falling. Much messier sport than road biking. Dirt all the way up my shins. Now we will need a great sunset, a drink and dinner. Given we are in Costa Rica, that will not be a problem!

Here is a pic of my wife enjoying that well earned sunset … and yes, my camera is focusing on some birds too! Hopefully my ID’s are correct.

High up in the trees … Orange Fronted Parakeet, Red Crowned Woodpecker and White Tipped Dove

Just above me! Iguana.

Beachcombing … Spotted Sandpiper and Great Tailed Grackle

Sing Out for Spring! (videos)

After my failed red-throated loon quest in the Port Washington area of Lake Michigan, I returned to my cold Northland along the shores of Lake Superior. In between birding outings I took a bike ride along the shore … 35F, snow flurries, and a 20 mph wind out of the Northeast. Twas an ugly cold bicycle ride.

Thankfully my birding excursions yesterday to some of my favorite wetlands were much more favorable. Both the Roy T. Johnson Wetlands (near Cloverland, Wisconsin), and the MacQuarrie Wetlands (near Wrenshall, Minnesota) by virtue of their locations relative to Lake Superior are way ahead of birding habitat north of the big lake (read cold with little signs of Spring in evidence).

In addition to both lots of Meadowlarks and Wilson’s Snipes singing out for mates, I saw two big migration events. At MacQuarrie yesterday afternoon when the sun finally came out, I found a flock of 500+ Scaups resting on their northward migration, and a few minutes later 1,000+ tree swallows swarmed the air directly above my head as they fed in the late afternoon sun above one of the wetland ponds.


Wilson’s Snipe