John Vanderpoel reached 650 year-birds yesterday by finding a Red-naped Sapsucker on the Grand Mesa in Colorado. Accompanying John on the trip was Bill Kaempfer, friend and honorary member of “Rock Dove Tours”. Vanderpoel took some time out from his whirlwind schedule to discuss this achievement. “Not the hardest nor rarest bird in North America, but the 650th year-bird has special meaning because that was my original goal for the year; at least until my eighty-six year old Uncle, Robert Vanderpoel, chided me into raising the goal to at least 700”. And seven hundred species now appears to be within reach. In fact Vanderpoel’s current total of 650 species positions him ahead of both Bob Ake’s 2010 total of 649 species by the end of June total and Lynn’s total of 605 species.
The Grand Mesa also held special meaning for John. “This was my first visit to the Grand Mesa. My Dad always wanted to pull together a Vanderpoel family visit to Grand Mesa, but we weren’t able to pull it off before Dad passed on.” Vanderpoel added. John went on to share that Waid Vanderpoel was instrumental in developing a love for nature and wildlife in all five of his sons, so finding #650 on the Grand Mesa was icing on the cake.
The Red-naped Sapsucker became possible as #650 for the Big Year total after Kaempfer was able to hear a Gray Vireo at Devil’s Kitchen in Colorado National Monument earlier in the morning. The bird was even photographed on the nest.
Vanderpoel, perturbed by recent criticism that his herp list was “a little brief” took time to photograph this Tiger Whiptail.
When asked what his upcoming plans are Vanderpoel replied, “The Pawnee Grasslands tomorrow morning and then a red eye to Boston. My lovely wife, Linda, and I will drive to Freeport, Maine where I’ll meet Derrick Lovitch to try for the Bicknell’s Thrush at timberline. At least one boat trip to Bird Island out of Vinalhaven will follow.” He then suggested that viewers should stay tuned.