Home > Birdwatching, iPhone, Main, Nature > Now THAT Was a Bicycle Ride

Now THAT Was a Bicycle Ride

August 21st, 2008

Sachi and I both now suffer from sore butts, but we had a very nice day. We got to have our bike ride from Ikebukuro to Shakuji Park, planned for last weekend but canceled due to bad weather. And today turned out to be a perfect day for it; sunny, but not too much; hot at first, but with good breezes, and halfway to the park, the temperature dropped to a much more comfortable level. And we needed that: the ride, one way, was 8.4 miles (13.5 km), or over sixteen and a half miles (27 km), equivalent of riding a bicycle from Shinjuku to Tachikawa, or (in San Francisco terms) from Stanford University to SFO.

It was also a perfect example of the iPhone to the rescue. Without it, I would have had to lug around a giant map book, or at least make copies of the relevant pages, fishing them out of my pockets and unfolding and refolding them, trying to figure out what sheet was which. The iPhone and its GPS worked great to guide us there and back, allowing us to take the optimal route but change our path if we wanted to. I could easily just pull it out of my shirt pocket and turn it on with one hand, checking our route to make sure we stayed on the right roads.

But the iPhone really came to the rescue when we realized that Sachi’s tire was deflating again and again. She had not used her bike in almost a year, and the tires were flat, naturally we thought. So we pumped up at a gas station–but 10 minutes into our trip, they were deflated again. So we pumped up again at another gas station–but again, they started deflating. This would have been a big thing normally–we probably would have had to cancel the trip and head back. But the iPhone’s Map app showed us the nearest bicycle shop just a few hundred meters away–which we never would have found otherwise–and a few minutes and 700 yen later, Sachi’s bike was fixed, and we were on our way again. The little gadget is very much earning its keep.

The ride one-way took an hour on the way back, though a bit longer on the way in due to the bike issues. But we got to the park just fine, and I got treated to some very nice birdwatching. No new species or anything, but some nice birding nonetheless. The first event was the best, a family of Common Moorhens. At first, it was just the one bird, or so I thought at the time, and with such a lovely bird, that would have been good enough. (Some of the following images enlarge to 1200 x 800 versions on click.)



But then the Moorhen pushed out into the water and started doing something strange: it circled around and started making repeated calls. We didn’t understand why until a minute later, when we noticed a little fuzzball emerge from the reeds:



Still not completely covered with feathers (though its beak showed the distinctive red-and-yellow Moorhen trademark) and eyes looking like they were only recently opened, a tiny Moorhen chick tentatively waded out, but only so far.


Mama had to come in and encourage the little fellow. And then another chick came ambling out:




The hen then led the chicks out into the water for a little swim, followed by sunbathing (or whatever) on stumps a little farther out. But that wasn’t all of the Moorhen family; apparently, last season’s chicks had grown up, and were still milling around. What’s interesting is that these birds lose their red-and-yellow bill colors, but only in their “teenager” phase–then they get those colors back when they mature.



Soon after that, we were chasing some Little Grebes…



…when Sachi just happened to spot a Kingfisher nearby.



For a public park, there were a good many interesting birds to be found. We also spotted the usual crows, sparrows, and Spot-billed ducks, in addition to a Little Egret and a Grey Heron. So, not bad birdwatching for a non-birdwatching venue.

But birds were not all that were there; some domestic animals also came into view.


But the real pleasure of the day came when we spotted a couple with a little Shiba Inu puppy. Now, Sachi just loves Shiba Inus, can’t get enough of ’em (she’s always tuning into YouTube on her iPhone to check out the latest Shiba puppy videos), and puppies are the best of all. Whenever we see a Shiba when we are out and about, we consider it a good result for the day. So when we passed the seated couple with the puppy, I just had to ask if Sachi could pet it–she was too shy to ask herself.


(The string is intended to train the pup not to bark too much, so we were told.)

Well, Sachi got a bonus–not only did they let us pet the puppy, but she got to hold it, too. Her idea of heaven.


So, it was a good day.

Categories: Birdwatching, iPhone, Main, Nature Tags: by
  1. Paul
    August 21st, 2008 at 05:29 | #1

    I did a little reading on the iPhone’s GPS. As I suspected, it does use the cell tower positioning (that the iPhone 2.5G used) to predetermine its position, which greatly speeds up the acquisition and information from the full-fledged GPS satellites.

    I haven’t messed much yet with the GPS coding in pictures, but am looking forward to how that will work and integrate down the road with the various photo management programs.

    Opening up the map application and seeing it track right along the road is pretty cool, though. And as you point out, Google’s integration with their search function makes finding something you need *incredibly* easy.

    I’m going to try out a couple of apps that are on the iTunes store for our vacation in a couple of weeks- we’re going to Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Miami Beach. There are some apps that use the GPS for tracking, so it’ll be cool to see everything.

    Eventually, of course, it’ll all come together and when you snap a picture it’ll upload it to your blog with the GPS info and people can search your stuff by location, or find you by searching on a location, or blah blah blah… convergence is cool.

  2. Shiba Inu dog
    October 15th, 2008 at 08:56 | #2

    I love Japan! I love those sexy and beautiful Japanese girls like Ourei Harada, then, the Sushi and the Terreyaki! A Shiba Inu dog is the ideal pet for me but I can never forget those luscious looks and body of Ourei Harada….”My woman from To-k-yo…She makes me see….My woman from To-k-yo, she’s oh so good to me…” I remember Deep Purple’s song because of Ourei!

  3. Troy
    October 28th, 2009 at 18:43 | #3

    Heh, I was bored one weekend and made that exact ride from Ikebukuro to Shakujii.

    I never needed GPS to get around Tokyo. It’s pretty small and since there’s so many pedestrians if I got lost I’d just ask someone.

    Plus all the kobans make finding out needed info rather straightforward.

  4. Luis
    October 28th, 2009 at 18:45 | #4

    Yeah, but the iPhone GPS and Google maps is fun!

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