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Jan 12, 2009 | by Adrian Binns

Binos. Tripod. Scope. Camera. Backpack. Water. Snack bar. All birding essentials. Gloves. Hat. Bike. Bike? Yes bike! It is 30 degrees out and sunny – a gorgeous day for a bike ride. But in the middle of winter?

I pumped up the tires, put on the backpack and made the six mile journey to the John Heinz NWR aka Tinicum in southern Philadelphia. Birding by bike is certainly interesting. Though I would never expect to get anything out of the ordinary on this heavily built up suburban route, there were many common birds. I could hear the sharp pik of a Downy and a qwirr of a Red-bellied. Blue Jay screamed as they bounced about neighborhood trees. I did see one feeder with a Carolina Chickadee on it and Mourning Doves feeding at the base exploding in all directions as I rode passed. Then there was the occasionally raccoon carcass and other assorted detritus I had to avoid.

At Tinicum I took the 3 mile loop around the impoundment. A pair of Belted Kingfishers worked the adjacent creek where the only ducks I could find were located – Hooded and Common Mergansers and the ubiquitous Mallard. In the scrub along the path there were many Song Sparrows, Northern Cardinals, a Northern Mockingbird or two and a few Golden-crowned Kinglets. Most of the impoundment was covered in a sheet of ice. I stopped several times setting up the scope. Great Blue Herons patrolled their patch of open water, while Ring-billed, Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls were resting on the ice. I spotted a Red-tailed Hawk and an adult Bald Eagle in a distant tree. There is a lot of excitement here because for the first time Bald Eagles are building a nest on the refuge.

Not only was I able to take along everything I could possibly need, it was a wonderful way to get out and bird, cover a fair bit of ground in a short period of time and do it with the least amount of impact on the environment.

all photos © adrian binns

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