I have been riding the Tennessee Riverwalk twice a week for a few months now. It’s one of those places that makes me happy. It’s just a beautiful way to wake up. Riding along the river on the mostly quiet trail, exchanging smiles with the dozen or so pedestrians who also haunt the riverwalk just after dawn–there just isn’t a better way to start the day.
I have also been leading bird walks a couple times a month. And, I went on a biking tour of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park last year, which was organized by Outdoor Chattanooga.
Thus, it was only natural that, as I rode past great birding spots along the riverwalk, I would think “I should organize a bike and bird!”
Allow me to clarify for safety reasons: I am not advocating birding while riding a bike. That would be dangerous. However, a bird walk is a usually a slow meander through a relatively small area with a good bird population and does not afford the opportunity to cover much distance without driving. It seems counter-intuitive to me that we would increase the amount we drive in order to pursue an activity motivated by the desire to learn about and appreciate creatures quite dependent on an unpolluted environment.
To give credit where credit is due, a friend of mine back in Columbus, OH previously organized “eco bird walks” where all participants agreed to walk, bike, or take public transportation to the starting point and they walked from there.
So, I my idea was not exactly unique. Regardless, I get a special pleasure out of combining activities. I formed a plan: Outdoor Chattanooga organizes bike tours all the time. Why not ask them to do a bike and bird? They have a fleet of bicycles so even people without bikes could join. I would invite the Chattanooga chapter of TOS and the Audubon Society and we could have a lovely morning of riding and birding. Or, to be more accurate, riding, stopping, and then birding.
And so it was. It took a few emails and phone calls, but that was it. Outdoor Chattanooga did the rest–and what a great group of people they are!
Finally, the Saturday selected was upon us. I’m not sure which of the folks at Outdoor Chattanooga was in charge of arranging the weather, but they did a fabulous job. I suppose if it would have been a little less breezy, we might have had an easier time spotting small birds among the trees, but the clear blue sky with little humidity and the cool breeze kept me smiling the entire ride.
We saw quite a few good birds, although not quite the bonanza I was hoping for. As I told our guide from Outdoor Chattanooga, it was such a beautiful day that I would have enjoyed it even if we hadn’t seen a single bird.