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Bike Ride, 1-NOV-08

Posted by trktos on 1-November-2008

We got out on the bike trail today, headed west and rode about 17 miles total. It was almost 70 degrees out, not bad of the first of November. Finally, the leaves here have some vibrant color – almost all through October, they were just brown and dying and falling off too early. I’m glad some held on long enough to change … saw lots of brilliant yellows, reds and oranges today. Unfortunately, there weren’t many leaves on the trail yet, so I didn’t get to watch them blur by as I rode over them, looking down with unfocused eyes … I should really try to take a photo but I’m afraid that would end up in a tangle of bike and Jill and camera.

We didn’t see much wildlife today … a few squirrels and one very persistent lady bug, who kept landing on me, flying away, and returning while we sat on a trail-side bench … I think she was attracted to my sunscreen?

I did get a chance to watch a deer for a little while … Evin had rode on ahead and missed out. I suppose she was a doe – no antlers and it wouldn’t be hunting season if deer didn’t have antlers now, would it? – but she was kinda big. As I rode by, I saw her, off the trail, and down in a little valley by a stream. I stopped my bike, got off and walked back, pretending not to be looking at her. At first, she couldn’t decide if I was a threat or not and kept turning to look at me with those big, brown eyes. She was only, maybe, 40 feet away. I could see her swallowing (the food she had grazed before I came along, I guess.) While she was looking directly at me, I tried not to look directly back at her, so she wouldn’t run off. At one point, she lifted her nose high in the air, slightly bobbing her head, to get a better scent from me. Those big ears forward, listening. She eventually decided I wasn’t going to bother her, and went on about her deer business, which was eating leaves off the little scrubby trees along the embankment. After a few minutes, she slowly moved behind some bushes, and I couldn’t see her anymore.

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More Bike Trail Wildlife, 20 & 15-Jun-08

Posted by trktos on 20-June-2008

20th June:
We rode about 33 miles today, west on the W&OD, 08:30-14:30, between miles 8 and 23. Trail wasn’t too busy, since it was a Friday … today, we saw:

  • 2-3 chipmunks
  • Red Winged Black Bird
  • Hawk
  • lots of cardinals; few squirrels, including one who tried to run into my front wheel.
  • a bird either working on her nest, or feeding babies, in a nest close by a bench we stopped at; couldn’t tell what kind of bird, though.
  • groundhog, snuffling about, on the side of the trail.
  • some kind of big fish, over a foot long, in a pond we frequently stop beside … it kept surfacing and slowly swimming amoung some really huge lily pads.
  • a vulture, being chased by some kind of brave little bird, who, at one point, landed on the vulture, hitching a short ride, while pecking away at the vulture’s back! Immediately afterward, the vulture had had enough, and flew off.
  • a small, maybe young? woodpecker, who was flying around and pecking every tree he landed on. Maybe it takes woodpeckers a while to learn what types of trees have bugs? This little fella seemed to be using trial and error!
  • 5 deer! The first group was of 3 large does (unless bucks are without antlers at this time of year?) crossing the trail. The second group was a mom and a fawn, probably one of the smallest baby deer I’ve seen (certainly had spots, although I couldn’t see them in the light) … they crossed the trail right by the Vienna Whole Foods.
  • lots of white, yellow and orange butterflies … also, lots of tiger lilies in bloom.

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15th June:
Westward on the W&OD between 08:00 and 10:30. Trail was fairly busy and there weren’t as many critters about as last time. We saw a couple of scurrying chipmunks, along with the usuals.

We stopped at Whole Foods and got to watch some sparrows and a gray catbird “dumpster diving” – around the picnic tables, they would perch on the edge of the garbage can and then plunge in, looking for food. The catbird found something (really bright yellow, don’t know what it was but he thought it was worth flying off with). We also got numerous birdy-eyed stares from the sparrows – we were sitting at those tables and, clearly, should have been eating something and dropping lots of crumbs! Really cute, how they’d line up on a near-by bench, waiting to for their turn in the garbage can.

My bike’s in the shop, currently, for a week or so. :(

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Bike Trail Wildlife, 06-JUN-08

Posted by trktos on 6-June-2008

We headed westward on the W&OD, miles 8 through 17.5, between 08:30 and 12:00 and saw:

  • Six or seven chipmunks, very cute, with tails straight up; one jumped the grassy area beside the trail to get to the brush.
  • Two young/small cottontail rabbits, Evin spotted the first one and it remained frozen in the brush until Evin glanced at me – then it took off and I only saw its fast-moving rear end. The second one, we heard about 10 minutes later and further westward, scampering along the bike trail until it darted back through an opening in the brush.
  • One snapping turtle, crossing the trail, by a stream/bridge … he had a very long neck and was very green, mossy and scaly. Evin wishes to add that he was dirty, too!
  • One mama or papa groundhog with a young groundhog. I saw a big, bushy tail lumbering slowly into the brush when we stopped for a rest by a stream. The tail was too bushy and slow for a squirrel, so I went to check it out … the groundhog spotted me first and I called Evin over. He noticed more branches moving and that’s how I saw a smaller groundhog rump and tail, a little further away. After we all stared at each other a while, the adult groundhog went on about its groundhoggy business.
  • One Red Winged Blackbird, possibly with his mate and they were possibly watching a squirrel raid their nest. It was hard to tell.
  • One Indigo Bunting, on a branch, close to the trail, who let us both get a good look before flying away.
  • One American Goldfinch in breeding plumage.
  • Lots of male Cardinals, perched close to the trail, lots of rather bold American Robins.
  • One dove I got to see a little too closely – I thought she was going to fly into my face!
  • One medium sized, dark greyish bird with a dark blue rump and one small sparrow sized bird with an orangish rump, still trying to figure out what kinds of birds they are.
  • Lots of cute grey squirrels, who looked absolutely huge, after seeing all those tiny chipmunks!

We’re hoping to keep up with what we spot from now on but last real trip out, we saw a pair of Canada geese, with three fuzzy babies. They were grazing when we first saw them and then, the parents went out on the pound … the babies were hesitant to follow but eventually got too nervous to stay on the shore with the parents paddling away, so in they plunged.

This year, we’ve also seen a box-type turtle, Goldfinches, Red Winged Blackbirds, Blue Jays, two rabbits (one really big fella and a smaller one – both on an eastern bike trip), some fish in a stream in Arlington where we took a break amoung the rocks, a bunch of hawks, circling over the trail and some black squirrels, in two parks. We’ve also seen a small doe, running scared along the trail, in Alexandria.

We watched a solitary grackle, hunting for food in a little clearing, by a bench. Finally, it found a worm and began tearing at it, while holding the worm down by stepping on it with a foot. The grackle finally decided he should take his prize elsewhere to finish eating it, and flew away.

And I forgot to add – we saw two bikers today with lots of packs on their bikes and a laminated sign that read “Argentina to Canada”.

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