I had been wanting to explore the roads on the other side of the highway for birds, so Rob and I set out on our bikes yesterday morning. We had been notified that the road was a little rough, but hey, we’re not the types to shy away from a little adventure! The little dirt road parallels the highway for a short distance and then abruptly turns into a tunnel under the highway. Dirt roads here can be bad or terrible; this one is of the latter variety. The tunnel was steep and full of big rocks and trash, causing us to walk the distance. Once on the other side, we rode by dogs sleeping in the middle of the road and colorful roosters hastily running across. Some of the dogs chased us barking, while others barely registered our passage as we maneuvered the rocks and deep gulleys. Then — what’s this? A river to cross! Rob walked across the wide yet shallow water with shoes on, while I stopped to take mine off, not relishing squishy wet shoes and socks for the rest of the morning. We rode on, past what looked like a 3 story apartment building, and then – there was that river again(!), forcing us to cross a second time. This time, in the interests of time, I left my shoes on. And why not, because after a few more turns in the road, there was that river again, requiring a 3rd crossing!
We rode on through many rocky sections of road, past small farms and buildings here and there; thick, green jungle vegetation covering everything in between. In order to photograph birds, we need trees that allow us to see into them, but so many of the trees swallow the birds which completely disappear. Suddenly there were some weird sounds coming from our bikes and then Rob called out that he had a flat tire. Shoot! I had some tools but darn it, neither one of us had brought an inner tube! But, it turned out that having one wouldn’t have helped anyway, because a section of the tire was completely ripped. Oh well, nothing to do but turn back and walk the distance.
No sooner had we turned around than we saw some parakeets flying into a huge tree, one with smooth branches and spaces to see into it! A ficus of some kind maybe? We parked the bikes against some bushes and took the cameras quickly out of our backpacks. Way high up, two small orange-fronted parakeets were preening each other on a branch. Click click click; they flew off, only to return in a few minutes. Then a flash of yellow, as a yellow-winged cacique disappeared into the leaves, another one following immediately behind. Can I see anything from this angle? Or maybe if I walk over here? Then, the birds I’d been waiting to see, three magpie jays, swooped into the top of the tree. Magpie jays are amazing to see, blue, black and white birds with very, very long tails. Wow, I love this tree! But the sun was climbing higher and the light becomes harsher the higher it climbs, so finally we reluctantly decided it was time to head back home.
After walking together for a little ways, we decided I would ride back and get the car and Rob would meet me, probably about at the tunnel. After hastily locking up my bike at home, I drove the car back, but got to the tunnel and realized there was no way I would attempt to drive through it, so I turned the car around and parked, but was a bit worried about whether it might be in someone’s way. But where was Rob? Had he stopped for some photography and was waiting for me somewhere? I walked through the tunnel and started walking up the road a bit, worried about leaving the car. I glanced back one more time and there was Rob at the car! Turns out he had made it past the tunnel and had tried to wave me down as I drove by!
I dropped Rob off by a bike repair shop just a few blocks from our house where he picked up a new tire. At home he managed to get the new inner tube and tire on his bike in an hour; pretty good work!
We decided the next time we go shooting at that tree we’ll take the car. We just have to figure out how to get there without going through that tunnel!