Malkolm is cycling on! He is now cycling from Alaska to Washington DC, and then continuing on to the UN Climate Change conference in Cancun in December.
It all started with Bird Year, Malkolm and his parents' year-long, fossil-fuel-free journey in search of birds. Cycling a total of 13,133 miles (21,144 km), they identified 548 different bird species and raised more than $25,000 for bird conservation. Bird Year turned them into confirmed cyclists and taught them that climate change was more serious than they had thought.
In 2009, Malkolm biked from Whitehorse to Ottawa as a part of Pedal for the Planet: the project called for the Canadian Government to become a leader in the struggle to come to grips with climate change. The Harper Government did not even meet with the young cyclists.
Malkolm is now 18 and just finished high school. On August 24, he dipped his foot in the Pacific Ocean in Skagway, Alaska. Then headed up and over the White Pass to the Alaska Highway on his journey to Washington and on to Cancun.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Oregon State Park Biker Camps – YEAH! (Wendy)

We have been in California for 3 days now, and I want to talk about Oregon before it is too late.
The photo has nothing to do with my story, but it does show that Oregon is cool. Have you ever seen a bike rest area before? I havn’t.

This happened awhile ago.We’d passed by two other state parks early that Saturday afternoon, and struck out for the Nehalen BayState Park, twenty miles further on. It was as far as we wanted to go that day. Our route took us up,up, up and up, over the second highest hill on the Oregon coast. Drizzly rain fell. My legs were tired. It was time to stop. Finally, I spotted the small brown sign I’d been waiting for: “ State Park Turn Left ¼ Mile”. Below it, “Campground Full”.

“We’ve got to got check it out”, I said,”There are no hotels or RV parks here”.

At the kiosk, another sign in block capitals: ALL CAMPSITES ARE FULL. THE ONES THAT LOOK EMPTY ARE RESERVED.

Dispirited, we waited while the ranger checked in a man who had reservations to camp with his horses.

“Do you have any space for bikers?” We tried not to sound like we were begging.

“Always!” the ranger replied cheerfully.

It feels so good to be the privileged ones.

The hiker/biker sites are cheap ($4 each includes hot showers)and are in the best location in most parks –quiet clearings in the trees, removed from the congested loops of RV’s. And, your neighbours are quiet, because they are dog tired, just like you.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bird Year Sporting News (Ken)

“When we were approaching the 19th hole, we wondered whether we’d break par, but birders in Oregon gave us 110%,” said Malkolm Boothoyd yesterday. “Tim Rodenkirk pulled off a string of birdies at the Coos Bay course (including Pacific Golden Plovers, Buff-breasted Sandpipers, a Baird’s Sandpiper and hundreds of Red-necked Phalaropes).”
With time running out in the fourth quarter, Diane Pettey in Florence pulled out all the stops. “Diane wanted it more than we did,” said Wendy. “We finished a strong second place with the Anna’s Hummingbird – but I admit to be Bitternly disappointed that no American Bittern showed its beak.”
Up in Seaside, Mike Patterson skated hard and really put the birds in the net. Well, he actually took them out of the net (gently) in an ongoing banding effort to learn more about songbird migration in northern Oregon. “I couldn’t believe how much Mike knows about birds,” said Ken. “No matter how many times we thought we had him down with a hard question, he always bounced back with the answer." As Tim later told us, “he’s a walking encyclopedia.” Mike was also enthusiastic enough to ride with us and show us Western Grebes, Clark’s Grebes and Black-headed Grosbeaks.
Thanks to all the Oregon Birders the ones we met and the ones we didn’t meet this time (and the birds)!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Lotsa Blackberries, no Hermits. (Wendy)

Serious birders talk in a certain way. Malkolm"needs to get Hermit Warbler”, and soon. The trouble is, Hermit Warblers are no longer singing. A local expert gave us some tips. He showed us the type of forest Hermit Warblers like. They hang out in mixed feeding flocks with chickadees. We would need to hear some chickadees, and then call them in by “pishing” or hooting like a screech owl. Hermit Warblers would follow the chickadees to us.
At Cape Perpetua, we found the right kind of forest. For two hours we climbed through that forest, hooting and pishing. Plenty of chickadees came to see us, but no Hermits.
Cape Perpetua is also the home of the most profuse, luscious, easy-to-pick blackberries on Planet Earth. Our Hermit Warbler search suffered as a result.
Next morning, we ate a gourmet breakfast: commercial whole wheat (just add water) “crepes” heaped with fresh blackberries and whipped cream.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Refreshing weather (Ken)

“It has rained 14 of the 16 days we’ve been gone so far,” said one of the cyclists we met at the state park campground near Manzanita, Oregon. “We’re staying put until the sun comes out.”
Those cyclists have been on approximately the same route as us – so I guess we’ve had the same number of wet days. On the other hand, there has been some sun on all of those days. Plus, as Malkolm learned in A.C.E.S, his Outdoor Ed course, there is no such thing as bad weather, only different types of good weather! Apparently rain is “refreshing.”
During one of those wet days, we had a great day of observing bird banding with Mike Patterson in Seaside, Oregon. Mike is the kind of expert who can tell you not only what species of bird you are seeing, but what sex and age. He kindly took us out into the rain after the banding was done to look for Hermit Warblers, Clark’s Grebes and anything else we could find. Thanks Mike!
Since we met the two cyclists, we’ve had a several more “refreshing” days of peddling southward. I suppose they’re still back in Manzanita.

Oops (Malkolm)

After Mike Patterson read my blog about finding the house wren, he noticed a mistake. “This is a very common mistake that I've seen some pretty high-end birders make,” he emailed to me. “What you photographed is a hatch-year MARSH WREN. Note the yellow gape which gets you to hatch-year. If one looks at the photo and thinks Marsh Wren there's the faint striping of mantle, the hint of broad, rather than fine barring on the primaries.”
Thanks for the correction Mike! Luckily we managed to reach 200 before we left Washington, we found and correctly identified (I hope!) a Snow Goose.

Friday, August 17, 2007

"Mile"stones (Malkolm)

We’ve reached two big milestones in the past few days, the first one a “mile”stone.
We passed our 2,000th mile in Ocean Shores, Washington after a day of birding in the dunes and beaches at the end of the peninsula. We had strolled along a beach, finding species #197, a Red-necked Phalarope amongst a flock of Least Sandpipers. After admiring the shorebirds we turned our attention to the ocean, where we found two more new species, a Red-breasted Merganser and a Black Scoter.
We looked hard for Pacific Golden-Plovers and Snowy Plovers, but the 200th species remained hidden. The next day we cycled to Grays Harbour NWR and walked along a boardwalk through a marsh. There were lots of Marsh Wrens, surprisingly easy to see, for a species seldom seen in the open. However, they were too far away for a good look. Finally one fluttered towards me. It was an overall reddish brown, with little contrast in its plumage. I suddenly realized that they weren’t Marsh Wrens but House Wrens... our 200th species.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Optics & Eating (Wendy)

It started out as “Bird Year”. Soon I came to think of it as “Exercize Year”. Those names still apply, but now I am calling this “Eating Year”. Being on our bikes all day is making us ravenous. (Hey, raven-ous, a bird word). I have always been an enthusiastic eater, and now I can eat as much as I want and not worry about my weight. I love it!
The raven in the photo was chowing down on grasshoppers, high on Hurricane Ridge.
Christianne brought new “optics” with her when she visited last week. What a difference good equipment makes! We are very grateful to American Birding Association Sales for donating a pair of Vortex Diamondback binoculars to Bird Year.
The high point for me has been the visit from the Tufted Puffin, that Ken wrote about in his last blog. We work so hard to try find certain birds, and that puffin gave us a great reward.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Puffin Search (Ken)

We’ve been away from internet access since Sequim and there are too many blog choices for me to write about. I could write about the steep bike ride up to Hurricane Ridge in search of the elusive Sooty Grouse. I could write about hearing the haunting hoots of what might have been a Spotted Owl in the old growth forest near the “Heart O’ the Hills” campground. I could write about the clear-cuts girdling Olympic National Park – part of the network of clear-cut forests that stretch through what was at one time healthy habitat for Spotted Owls from California to British Columbia.
But I think I’ll write about our search for a puffin. We were hoping to see a Tufted Puffin near La Push on the Washington coast. In the early summer, puffins nest on the rocky islands just offshore from the mouth of the Quilayute River. We set up our new scope and searched the grassy summits where their burrows should be. No puffins. We scanned the ocean below the rocks. There were Common Murres, Surf and White-winged Scoters, Pigeon Guillemots, cormorants and Marbled Murrelets – but no Puffins. We asked if we could rent a sea-kayak, but there were none to be had.
We hiked along First and Second Beaches where there were hundreds of gulls but no puffins. Then Malkolm and I decided to walk back to the marina in what I thought was a one in a thousand chance to find someone with a row-boat or a sea-kayak that we could borrow or rent. Maybe it had only been a one in a hundred chance. When we got there we found a sea-kayaking company just finishing a float down the river. We convinced them to rent us a single and a double.
I still didn’t expect to see a puffin. After a couple of hours of paddling though, a Tufted Puffin appeared, right beside our kayaks. We floated about ten yards away and watched as it preened its feathers. Its triangular orange bill glowed in the late afternoon sunlight. It stretched its wings and flapped, ducked its head under the surface and flapped again. About 15 minutes later it finally dove and disappeared.
Wendy said she thought the puffin had made a special visit to us. I don’t know about that, but it was a special time for the three of us, no matter what the puffin’s intentions.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Oars, sails and tides (Malkolm)

I leaned over the gunwale of the “Bear”; a replica of an 18th century longboat, like the ones Captain Vancouver used in 1792 when he explored these waters. The boat is part of the fleet used by the Port Townsend Sea Scouts, a group of adventuresome young sailors. The water of Puget Sound lapped peacefully against the side of the boat as we sailed forward.
“But how far forward?” I wondered. I glanced at a nearby peninsula to check our progress. We were no farther along the peninsula than the last time I looked. “Strange.”
“We’re not making much headway,” yelled a sea scout. “I think we’re going backwards!”
We were stuck in a strong current, created by the tide flowing out of the inlet that we were heading for.
“Take in sail! Out oars!” called the skipper, Norm. “We’ll head to shore.” I grabbed my oar, my blistered hands screaming in protest. We inched forward, all the effort that we put into each stroke seemed to be stolen by the current. But gradually we got closer, until finally the hull scraped against the bottom. We jumped ashore and examined the situation. Finally we decided to skirt the shore where the current would be less and then cross the inlet to Port Townsend.
Thankfully the plan worked and an hour and a half later the longboat and her exhausted crew slid into port. We had sore arms and blistered hands, but a great story to tell.