Disappointment in the Chambly Basin

Bland Liz spotted the goose first.  She yelled “I’m on it boys….try to keep up with me, okay”.  The Hitman came rushing out of the SUV, binoculars in his hand. Ken Petersen was tracking the dark goose flying among one thousand Snow Geese.  His elbows tucked in to his midsection, he’d created a rock steady platform developed over countless pelagic trips. Surely he wouldn’t loose sight of the goose.  Liz yelled “Is it the Graylag?”, but I thought it was too small.  Someone yelled “No, it’s a Bean Goose”.  That sent a chill down my spine, surely Jon Dunn would proclaim it was only a Bean Goose spp! A “Salton Sea Bean Goose”. But now I was tracking the bird myself. It was smaller- either a Lesser White-fronted Goose or perhaps the hybrid that Paul Sykes saw in St. Paul.  Confusing. So many images….so many possibilities.  But everything would soon become clear, Doug Koch was firing away with his “big gun”, the 500 mm – F/4.0 – Nikon F.   Just then a loud voice came over an intercom.  “Leave the geese alone, please return to your seats and fasten your seatbelts”.  I asked myself, why was a loud speaker system in the middle of a corn field in the Chambly Basin of Quebec? Suddenly I realized I was in a Jet Blue airplane about to land in Denver.  It had just been a dream.  Actually a bad dream – there had been no Graylag Goose.

We had driven back from Quebec, five people cramped in a Ford Escape.  The conversation was lively but all of us were disappointed during our return trip to Massachusetts.  The Graylag Goose was not there when we arrived at the lake at 6:45 AM this morning.  There were more geese on the water than yesterday (perhaps a thousand?) but not as many as before the Graylag vanished Sunday morning.  I certainly don’t know where the goose has gone.  Whether it migrated south with the north winds on Sunday or is simply roosting at a different spot on the Richelieu River.  If it returns, I may chase it again.  For now I’m happy to be back in Denver and am looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with my family.  My tentative plans are to stay home Wednesday thru Friday, then chase the Seward Redwing if it holds through the current blizzard in the Kenai Peninsula. Next would be a return to the Lower Rio Grande to hunt for the Golden-crowned Warbler.  I’ll also try to locate an Aplomado Falcon.

To all of you blog readers I want to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!  Eat that turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie. Then get out in your home patch and bird.  This is THE weekend for turning up rarities!

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15 Responses to Disappointment in the Chambly Basin

  1. Sorry you missed the goose, John. Happy thanksgiving to you too! I hope that Redwing holds on for you, that would be an awesome bird!

  2. Lamarr Eddings says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to you! Fuel up for the stretch run, knowing you will run off every calorie in the next few weeks! Thanks again for sharing the adventure.

  3. Neil Whiting says:

    Ouch, really tough dip on the Graylag.
    Thanks for the blog entries and a very Happy Thanksgiving.
    It’s about 80 degrees warmer in Texas than Seward, if you are deciding whether to chase the warbler or the redwing.

  4. Wes Hatch says:

    Golden Crowned Warbler TX

    On 21 November an ABA Code-4 Golden-crowned Warbler (Basileuterus culicivorus) was seen briefly at the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas. On the 22nd the warbler was photographed at the same location.

    Good Luck and Happy Thanksgiving!

    Wes Hatch

  5. Michael says:

    Happy Thanksgiving! I wish you luck in finding your next birds. I have enjoyed reading of your adventures!

  6. John Groves says:

    Happy Thanksgiving old boy! While looking for Golden-crowned Warbler, check our the Blue Bunting near Santa Ana.

  7. Liz Southworth says:

    A great blog post John. Sure wish I had seen that goose first!

    “Bland” Liz

  8. Deanna Campbell says:

    Sorry about the goose! Enjoy the turkey!
    Happy Thanksgiving! Deanna

  9. I’m so sorry about the Graylag, John. You could not have put greater effort into it, but the fates were against you this time, just as they have been with you on other occasions. The big Kenai blizzard passed over, roads are fine, our Redwing is holding steady (it’s practically charging admission for viewing, it’s just so reliable & solidly planted for the rest of winter). I’m taking it bags of mt ash berries from Anchorage tomorrow to replenish the Seward supplies. And introducing it to apples for a Thanksgiving feast! Thank you, Dave, for that tip and congrats on your nuthatch a few days ago!


  10. John Vanderpoel says:

    This is about as cool as it gets and begins to show the power of a blog. Here we have a guy in Newfoundland (birder extraordinary Dave Brown) giving tips to people in Alaska that will help the Redwing survive an Alaskan winter. Aleta, thanks for the update. Now I can enjoy my Thanksgiving Dinner without concern about whether the Redwing will hold.

  11. John Vanderpoel says:

    Hi John,

    I will definitely do that.


  12. Ken Tarbox says:

    This was posted on Akbirding a yahoo group by Joe Staab. Thought you might like this information.

    The thrush was out for a good twenty minutes on Thanksgiving Day and a gathering of Anchorage and Seward birders enjoyed awesome views. Tomrrow Peregine Joe will be out searching for the Kenai Great Gray owls, so please feel free to contact Jim Herbert, yes the Jim that found this bird!, His numbers are 907-224-8000 or 362-0020 and he is friday’s keeper of the thrush.

  13. John Vanderpoel says:

    Thanks for the update, Ken.

  14. Nick Block says:

    There’s a Streak-backed Oriole in your backyard (well, close enough)! I hope you get to see it!
    Good luck,

  15. Alison Quinn says:

    I hope that you had a great Thanksgiving. I hope that the whole family is well and that they were able to help recharge your batteries for the month ahead. Keep up the good spirits and go find those birds! We are cheering you on! And please keep up the great updates (dream sequences included)!

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