Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cranes scare bikers

On a recent bike ride on the 40 mile (64 km) Military Ridge Trail near Madison, bicycling traffic came to a complete halt due to some very agitated parents. There was a great hullabaloo while they called and strutted threateningly on and near the trail.
Was it respect for the birds or the fact that a Sandhill Crane is 4 to 5 feet tall (1.2-1.5 meters) and armed with a long sharp bill? It turns out that a chick that is only about a day old ignores parental efforts to herd it away from people—it likes the newly mown grass on the edge of the trail. Even there we could rarely see it because it was so tiny.
Eventually the parents switched tactics and tried to decoy us up a hill and away from where the chick  was. They just don't get it that bicyclists don't like to ride in tall grass, but at that point we felt it was safe to ride away on the trail and leave them in peace until the next cyclists came along. It looked like the new parents had a busy afternoon ahead of them.
Nitty gritty: Wisconsin had the very first rail-to-trail in the US and has gone one to develop an extensive system with hundreds of miles of car-free trails on former railroad beds. Most of them are surfaced with crushed limestone and a bike with fairly skinny tires can handle them. Between the trails and an amazing network of paved secondary roads, Wisconsin is heaven for bicyclists. And don't forget the cheese!


Grand Purl Baa said...


Evelien said...

What a bird! Quite impressive! I love birds, cheese and cycling (I'm Dutch, that says it) especially on former railroad beds. Wisconsin sounds like heaven.