Lemon Lane Cranes, Hawks, & Herons

This Sunday morning we headed out to see how it would be to ride to Jojo’s spring job on Shilo Rd. Before I even got the BBC, I ran into Sue at the gates with a bunch of other riders, ready to head out, and to my surprise, Jason and Angela were in the group, that was great.

Jojo and I headed into Cascades Park, across Walnut, up Hillview Rd., then north on Old 37 to Dolan. We decided to go up Robinson Rd. then onto Miller Rd, which ends on Shilo. Robinson was relatively easy to climb, it comes in 3 steep climbs, with nearly level stretches in between, giving time to rest before the next climb. There is a great view through the trees of the wide Bean Blossom valley, but only in winter when the leaves are gone. We were hoping that Miller would be exciting to go down, it is a real monster coming up, but it was covered with sand, really curvey and steep, so we took it easy coming down. The lowlands in the valley were filled with peepers, especially near the streams and swampy areas, and great blue heron flew right over our heads. We climbed up Shilo, it just keeps going up in spurts, kind of like Robinson Rd.

We stopped at the world headquarters of wirelessmoosefence.com (it really works!), where we ate a little and drank some water; we had pretty much hammered the whole way there, with 3 climbs and no stops. We then rode out to Tunnel Rd, and headed for Lake Lemon, riding along South Shore Rd. with the lake and hills all around.

Clouds over Lake LemonBlue Skies behind the clouds

Riding the Causeway Video

We decided to go straight back on SR 45, just to see what it is like, usually I cut off and ride Mt. Gilead, it adds a mile and a hill, but is much quieter. But soon after reaching the ridgetop, just past Lanam Ridge Rd., we started to hear and see cranes flying in from the south, literally hundreds of them in groups of 20-75, they would arrive in a vee formation, then start circling and making their characteristic calls, then more would arrive and melt in, it was quite something. Then just before we left, we heard hawks calling, and watched them rising on the updrafts coming out of the valley, it seemed to be a mating display, they were definitely not hunting.

We goofed around a little, I did an impression of a raccoon climbing a fallen tree, then we hit the road, passing the B & B water tower. We made good time and were back in about 45 minutes. The highway can be a bit stressful, but most drivers were courteous, maybe because there were so many bikes on the road, training for the Little 5 has begun in earnest.
Resting our steeds before the last leg homeGoofing offB & B Water tower

Here is a video of the cranes as seen from the ridge on SR 45 in Brown County. Flock after flock were arriving in V formation, then breaking in the their peculiar circling motion once they hit the updrafts coming up the ridge south of Lake Lemon. Their calls were overwhelming, and could be heard for miles. They must have been reforming the ranks before heading out, as we had seen none done by the lake. We then heard a distinctive call rising above the crowd noise, and we were able to see 3 or 4 cranes in a little V heading away from the group to the northwest, and they were making a single loud, repeated call rather than the gobbling of the group, you can clearly hear the sound in the video below. As we watched the main body begin to follow the little V, we knew they were calling out “Hey everybody, I remember this, we have to go this way!” I guess they get so dizzy from flying in circles on the updrafts, that most of them get confused, and the few scouts have to lead the way.

[youtube 114lfN2OMXU]

Summary: 35 miles, 10 mph, 4 valley to ridge top climbs, mating hawks, no leaves, gazillions of cranes, and a lone blue heron. Mostly cloudy skies with blue showing through, west winds and 40 degrees and damp.

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