Birding on the Bike Path

It’s been a dreary, drizzly winter in southern Oregon, and there have been few chances to get out on the trail. A consequence of that, for this blog, is a lack of anything substantial to write about. No trips; no hikes; no story. All our driving has been routine and mundane. In a sense, this is a good thing: it demonstrates perfectly that an electric car is just a car – like any other car, except that you fuel it up in your own garage, and you don’t have to take it in for oil changes. The Bolt is a perfectly competent vehicle for all the normal purposes any car would be used for – but, of course, that is the problem. There is nothing more boring than competence.

So I am happy to announce that we did actually get out of town and take a hike on Friday. Well, a little way out of town, and a sort of a hike. It was a mostly gray day, but there was a bit of blue sky and, though rain was expected, it wasn’t yet falling: so at about 2 PM we jumped in the car and headed for the Bear Creek Greenway, the bike path that runs from the north end of Ashland to just beyond the Jackson County Fairgrounds in Central Point. Someday it is expected to stretch all the way from the county park at Emigrant Lake to the banks of the Rogue River, but those plans have been on hold for a while. But the 25 miles that have been completed are already a pleasant place for an afternoon spur-of-the-moment outing.

We began at the Pine Street trailhead, at the edge of the fairgrounds and just off the main Central Point exit from I-5, and strolled south. It was gray where we were, but if we looked east, we could see snowy Mt McLoughlin shining brightly under an almost-blue sky. Occasional bikers and other walkers passed. The temperature was a comfortable 50ºF.

A small pond tucked between the paved path and the freeway held interesting reflections.

A mile or so south of Pine Street there is a large pond east of the path, and a small wildlife-viewing pavilion has been built there. We made that our goal for the day. It didn’t disappoint: the pond was busy with birds. Large flocks of canvasbacks and Canada geese; a few mallards; a scattering of other species. I spotted a small brown duck I couldn’t identify, and eventually realized that it wasn’t a duck at all; its shape and behavior were ducklike, but its beak was narrow and sharp. A bit of research later determined that it was a pied-billed grebe, a species I had not knowingly seen before. Not a red-letter day by birdwatching standards, perhaps, but a great relief from staying indoors. And the rain held off till we got home. Enjoy the pictures.

Pied-billed grebe.
Male canvasback.
Male (top) and female (bottom) canvasbacks, and a scaup.
Canada geese.

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