A bit farther south, though, there's a narrower channel that flows a bit more and thus stays open in a couple of spots. I didn't expect to see a lot of birds there, but there was only one way to be sure! I biked to Riverside Park in La Crosse and worked my way south for a few miles from there. Riverside Park is home to about 250 Mallards, which were there looking for handouts - but there was something else out in the water, too. It was a lone Common Goldeneye (#32) that had just caught a fish and was being chased in circles around a small patch of open water by a gang of hungry Mallards! The goldeneye finally managed to swallow the fish, which was large enough to pose a challenge.
The other FOGY (that's "First of Green Year") of the day was a juvenile Cooper's Hawk (#33). I was unknowingly right next to the hawk when I arrived at the park and stopped to put on some warmer layers. I saw the hawk when it hopped over a few branches to maintain a more comfortable distance, though it's clearly used to being around people at the park, as it quickly seemed to forget about me. I still made sure not to linger after snapping a couple of quick photos, as birds that appear unconcerned might still be experiencing stress.
|Juvenile Cooper's Hawk|
So, not a particularly birdy trip (14 species over 20 miles), but it was definitely nice to be out and not freezing to death! (Funny how balmy 34 F can feel after a cold snap - especially with no wind.) It was also a treat to ride on normal tires - I've been commuting on my studded tires for the past couple of weeks, and they are SLOW, and pushing them over the road is hard work (because of the studs, the knobby tread, and the extra weight versus my mostly-slick touring tires). I'm grateful for the studs when there's ice on the road, but today the snow had melted off the roads and nearly all the bike paths, so normal tires were fine. The ride today reminded me that biking is supposed to feel like freedom!