May Birds

On Sunday morning, Jojo and took one of our bike loops to Lake Monroe, and it was the single biggest bird day I’ve ever had. By late May most of our migraters are back and nesting. We stopped for a moment on the trail that overlooks Jackson Creek, and watched while a pair of Mallard ducks waddled into the water and started floating down stream.

Once back on the road, and close to the lake, the birds started showing themselves. First a bluebird flew right in front of me, then we saw some goldfinches. Riding through the woods I heard the unmistakable sound of a red-breasted grosbeak (chick-burr) and then a vireo in the upper story of the trees. I often hear woodpeckers, in town we have flickers, red bellies, and downy woodpeckers at our feeder, but in the woods we get lucky and see the large pileated woodpecker.

So early the next day, I was outside our house moving the recycle bins, and to my surprise, a Cooper’s Hawk swooped over my head and landed in a low branch. The birds in the surrounding trees were twittering up a storm, and I could see why, the hawk had an adult starling in its claws, and was just waiting around to see if he was going to be hassled. He then flew to another tree, and from there I suppose to Dunn’s Woods, were I know a pair is nesting. (I am not being grammatically sexist, the males are noticeably smaller that that females.)

My other amazing encounters this month were a great blue heron flying up from one of the ponds in Miller-Showers park, a catbird in our neighborhood, a cedar waxwing near the Von Lee, and a broad winged hawk over the Hoosier Forest.

Stephan's Creek Waterfall

Waterfalls are special places, maybe it’s the ions, the water vapor, the sound, the whole experience is magical, waterfalls have a spirit, and each one is unique.

This waterfall runs most of the year, and is visible from Mt. Gilead Rd. The small branch that falls into Stephan’s Creek runs for about a half mile till it attains the Mt. Gilead Ridge. There are not that many waterfalls in Monroe county, I hope on visiting them all this year, but I don’t know where they all are. Let me know of any you are aware of, I would love to take a shower in each and everyone this summer.

From Waterfalls and Springs

Morgan-Monroe Spring Ride

After our great Virginia bluebell find last week, I was anxious to get to the Morgan-Monroe forest, where in years previous I’ve found the rare yellow lady-slipper. It was Sunday morning and we figured the highway would be pretty empty, so we headed out 10th St., and rode SR. 45 straight out to Tunnel Road, which we took to Shilo Rd, less than an hour of steady riding.

Shilo Rd. was repaved last year, and is still in great shape, a fine 3 mile ridgetop ride in the forest. We stopped for a break at Rust Rd., and has luck would have it Jason and Aaron Breeden came down the road, stopped and chatted for a few minutes. Jojo and I rode on to where Shilo ends on Anderson Rd., which we took over to Bean Blossom Rd. This road runs up the valley and then ascends nearly 300 feet over to the ridge which divides the White River from the Bean Blossom Valley.

From Flowers 2009

After climbing the first long incline, there is a level stretch of ridge that drop steeply on each side. Right where we found them 2 years ago were the same 2 clusters of the elusive Yellow Lady Slipper. I took some pictures, they are here. We climbed to the top, and headed west on Forest Road, and to our surprise we saw several other clusters of Lady Slipper on the north side of the road.

As we rolled along enjoying the crisp green, forest air, we came on a clear-cut right along the roadside, with a sign that just flabbergasted me, I can”t believe they are so ignorant!

We rode Old 37 back to town, coming in through Cascades Park, about a 30 mile loop, really satisfying with just 2 big climbs, Bean Blossom and Firehouse hills. The weather was perfect, and the ephemeral wildflowers were at their peak.

From Mitch's Bike Maps

Road Rash Alert

Last week Jojo and I took the 80 degree weather as a sign to ride to Lake Monroe and test the waters, and that’s what we did (it was mighty cold, but refreshing). We decided to ride down the bike route south to Rhorer Road, and then down Harrell to Stipp. We had not decided whether to go down Stipp Rd. (our favorite hill) or ride down Handy past the water treatment plant to the boat ramp.

As we approached the intersection of Handy Rd. I turned my head to ask Jojo which way to go, and bam, I was on the road in a pile of grit. I really did not see the 3 inch pile at the edge of the rode. After wiping the blood off, I took a picture from each direction, and as you can see, the pile is quite visible coming from Stipp Rd. but not going into it. Caveat veho!

Looking east, the road looks clear
Looking east, the road looks clear
Looking west, the danger is obvious
Looking west, the danger is obvious