Saturday, April 4, 2009

Day of birds and bikes

Serendipity abounds ... This morning I sat up in bed with my coffee (ah, Saturday) and read more pages in the book I'm currently gobbling up, Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams. It's one of those newish classics that's been on our bookshelf forever, and I finally took it down. Williams is a Utah naturalist who, in the memoir, loses her mother and grandmother to cancer, which seems likely to be connected with the military toxic waste in the desert. In conjunction with telling those stories, she writes about the Great Salt Lake and the bird refuge, the marshes, and the human impact on that world.


In the afternoon, Annie and I decided to go for a bike ride. She'd heard about a route we'd never taken before, so we hopped on our bikes and the next thing I knew we were headed out toward the San Jose Municipal Airport, which we rode through on an unpaved side-road, and then followed a gravel trail for miles. The next thing we know we are in Alviso, a town north of us, which we'd never before explored--and shortly after that we are in the bird refuge there, a marshland with salt ponds. All around me I see the same flora and fauna I'd just read about in Williams' book that morning, including:

avocets galore



TWO of these amazing birds, great blue herons


Several of these gorgeous white egrets, with stunning wing spans


a huge falcon that landed right next to us on the bike trail (I'd never been that close to one before)

a lot of gulls and many other birds I couldn't identify.
What's amazing is that there is a trail all around the marsh and salt ponds (which were a gorgeous orange color from all of the minerals) that you can walk or ride bikes on. Because it's a marsh environment, there are hardly any trees; it was a crystal clear day so we could see three mountain ranges surrounding us.
85% of California wetlands have disappeared in the past 100 years. Thank god for the people who've cared enough to put so much time and energy into preserving places like this. Otherwise, the birds would have "failed migrations"--meaning they'd have no place to rest as they migrated and would become extinct.



We ended up riding 26 miles, a good training ride since we're doing the 36-mile Tierra Bella in a couple of weeks. We're going to enjoy spring and get strong for summer adventures if it kills us.

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