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!