Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spectacular Bike Ride!

From the St. Mark's Rail Trail trail head just below town to St. Mark's National Wildlife Refuge. Perfect temps, a little breezy, blue skies, beautiful day. I stopped at The Wilderness Way in Wakulla (the town of) and spoke with those folks for a while, and they graciously answered all my questions about trips and put-ins and equipment and such. Then I got off the trail onto Bloxham Cutoff Rd (SR 267) to Newport and then on down the Lighthouse Rd. all the way to the end. It was marvelous.

Bike is definitely the way to see the wildlife refuge. In a car you'll drive by too many things while you go from spot to spot, and you can cover more ground on a bike than by foot. On a fat tired bike you can ride all the dikes, and there are miles and miles of them. I had the good sense to bring my field glasses (knobblers) and a bird guide, so I just went through at a leisurely pace to see what I could see. What I saw was: common moorhen, American coot, cormorant, lesser scaup, redhead (duck), little blue heron, snowy egret, tricolored heron, brown pelican, pied billed grebe, old turkey vultures, a pair of adult bald eagles with a juvy in the nest, laughing gulls, Forster's terns, kingfisher, eastern kingbird, boat tailed grackle, mockingbird, indigo bunting (!), red winged blackbird. I also saw a plant called a Horrible Thistle, not quite in full bloom yet, but deserving of its name.

On my way out I notice an armadillo coming out of the brush ambling towards the road. I slowed down (he didn't) and came to a stop a few feet short of him. Aside from a couple pauses to look me over, he didn't seem that impressed by me, so he carried on across and passed about 3' in ahead of my front wheel and then waddled into the tall grass on the other side. Stupid animals, them. They're by far the most common roadkill around here. Cute in a funny looking kind of way though, so I was pretty entertained.

The bald eagles must be a fixture down there. I've seen at least one every time I've been on the property (except with Mike a couple weeks ago, but we only touched on the end of the road to eat our lunch). The nest was up in a tall pine tree maybe 50 or 75 yards off the road, but clearly visible. It was huge and dominated the top of the tree. The juvenile was also huge, and was very active and bounced around in the nest a lot, fluttering its big wings and facing into the wind (working up the courage?). They were a highlight.

The ride out was pleasant but uneventful up until the last 5 miles or so, when I started to cramp a little and my ass started to go numb. But that's alright. Just over 50 miles round-trip. I came home and cut a salad out of the garden and Aimee made dinner while I took a shower. Chicken Marsala, the freshest salad possible with homemade honey mustard dressing, bread, and red wine. Damn y'all. That's a good day. Sure to be a good night's sleep now too.

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