Sunday 12 April (Day 12, 30 Days of Biking) 2015. Delight and Discomfort Beyond the Barrier

The phone weather ap said it was 39 degrees F at 6:15 this morning, though it felt warmer. The sky with its half (the left half, that is, waning) moon was clear in places and filled with swaths of thin-ish clouds in others. The wind blew, mostly gently, from the north and east. “Light and variable,” perhaps.

Took Rhododendron, the road bike, for this trip; wanted to keep gradually extending the distance of these rides as daylight becomes more plentiful, and it’s nice just to check the odometer, with which Rhododendron is equipped. Also, if there’s any wind, it’s easier to ride in the forward stance. Just have to do shoulder work later.

Headed east on Washington again today, determined to go farther beyond the barrier at High Cross Road.

Smelled skunk in two different places on the way. Spring.

Just east of High Cross Road the sun rose and the road beckoned
through the gap in the barricade,

through which I passed.

A short way down the road was a flooded corner of a field in which there were 8-10 ducks, not mallards but was not sure what. The iphone could not capture a recognizable image, but did have my little just-a-camera with a bit of workable zoom. Got two shots, the second as they took off, revealing blue patches in the wings: blue-winged teal (Anas discors)!
Here is a rough sketch:

Was glad these migrants were availing themselves of central Illinois hospitality, which let me behold them.

Cut north on Cottonwood Road, over I-74 and along Trelease Woods.
Dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria) were at the peak of their bloom and widespread on the forest floor and slightly to the outside of the fence.

Noticed how the white flowers were tinged with pink just before they were fully formed and open.

Then rode on to Oaks Road, back west to High Cross and then south. Stopped along Brownfield Woods, where again were lots of Dutchman’s breeches.

Also, there was some tooth wort (Dentaria laciniata).

Farther down High Cross and over the I-74 bridge, cut through a subdivision and noticed more ducks (and only a pair of Canada geese) in the central pond. Figured they were teals and maybe also some mallards; here is an iphone photo of the pond.

Honestly, those are ducks in the water.

Got some zoomed photos on the little just-a-camera. (At home zoomed up the photos more and realized that there were three different species: blue-winged teal, lesser scaup (Aythya affinis),

and northern shoveler (Anas clypeata).

Way cool!

On the way back on Main Street, a smallish (so not a red-tail), rather stocky (so not a Cooper’s) grey-mottled hawk (I thought), flew about two feet directly in front of me, across my path. Maybe it was a screech owl. Love those close encounters.

But back home had a less pleasant close encounter as a result of this otherwise lovely 12-mile ride: discovered a tick, one of the small ones, on my leg. Wow. Good shots aside, maybe it would have been wiser not to kneel right in the vegetation.

When one gets carried away by the intoxicating beauty of nature, remembering skunks and ticks can lend a note of sobriety.


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