Full Chase Mode -All the Way To The Finish Line

Plans have changed.  I’m moving fast and I’ll stay that way through the rest of the year!  I might as well go out with guns blazing, right?  Right now I’m on one last crazyass chase with the Musketeers! Okay now that I’ve totally confused everyone here’s what’s happening.  Last night I received a call from Brian Patteson that he was postponing the pelagic trip yet another day-till Thursday.  That was a bit depressing and I wasn’t too excited about sitting around in the rain in Hatteras for two days.  My dilemma was solved when Doug Koch suggested that we drive to Tennessee and try for the Hooded Crane. That’s all the encouragement I needed.  Drive the 700 plus miles, see the crane tomorrow morning then drive back all the way to Hatteras to be in position for the Thursday pelagic trip.   It’s a Big Year right?  I can always sleep beginning next year.  Doug and I had breakfast in Buxton, NC with my Ohio birding buddies Jeff Wert, Jim McCarty and his son Bret, then headed west. Forty miles later and on a lark, we decided to give Bland Liz Southworth a call, “Hey Bland Liz!  Want to chase the Hooded Crane then join us for a possible Great Skua?”  She replied “Give me a couple of minutes boys to look at logistics and I’ll get back to you.”  Five minutes alter she called while in transit to Boston Logan Airport.  No moss grows under that lady, we are now picking her up in Chattanooga, TN at 9:00 PM this evening.  Dug and I stopped in Chapel Hill, NC to have lunch at Mama Dip’s Kitchen with Chris “The Hitman” Hitt.  Good Southern Cooking while Chris briefed us on the Hooded Crane.  Then we were off again.

And there’s more to this story.  I learned this morning that a Smew was found yesterday in Toronto in a harbor. I called Ron Pittiway and Jean Iron to get a current status of the Smew and low and behold Jean was looking at it as we spoke.  If the duck holds tomorrow, I’ll fly to Toronto from Norfolk, VA early Friday morning, hopefully nab the Smew. then still fly out Friday late afternoon to Phoenix where I’ll meet my brother, Bill.  We’ll drive to Lake Havasu and try for the Nutting’s Flycatcher on Saturday.  My map is now laid out in front of me and has become very clear. Try to stay with me folks cause I’m in “Full Chase Mode” and it’s a race to the finish line!

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30 Responses to Full Chase Mode -All the Way To The Finish Line

  1. Go John Go! Go John Go! You can do it! Chase the race to the finish line!

  2. Michael says:

    Good luck and Godspeed!

  3. Ike says:

    There’s been a lot of discussion on the Carolinas birding list regarding the implausibility of the Hooded Crane being a wild bird, although I guess there’s always a chance the TN committee will accept it despite the logical hurdles involved, and that makes it a tactical choice for any Big Year list.

    Smew and Nutting’s Flycatcher are great birds for the year – I hope they stick around and give you great looks.

    Good luck in these final days. You’ve had an amazing year, and all without Attu! It has been amazing to read about. Thanks for the blog and the updates.

  4. Jean Iron says:

    Hi John,
    We’ll keep you updated on the Smew at Whitby. We can pick you up at the airport if you wish. Otherwise if you rent a car it’s a straight run from airport to 401 eastbound to Brock Street in Whitby (not the first Brock Road you come to which is in Pickering.) then left turn south to the harbour. This is just east of Toronto, in good traffic about 45-50 minutes from the airport. All the best with your other birds.
    Jean and Ron

  5. Hallie Mason says:

    We are all with you in spirit. Best of luck!

  6. fred says:

    Pearson Airport is in Mississauga and the Smew is 40 to 50 miles away on the other
    side of Toronto in Whitby Harbor. On a Friday afternoon the traffic can stop and start
    on the highway across Toronto. Something to be considered on the way back, trying to
    catch a plane on time . Good luck

  7. Karen Cody says:

    Send us a signed copy of your book when you reach 746 (right?)! Good work, you have been working your tail off! We have been following you and can’t wait to read the last entry, just know it will be GREAT!
    Karen, Dave, Sam & Zac

  8. Terry says:

    Yes, go go go! I have followed your blog since January and was saddened to see your morale drop following your bad luck on Adak. But you’re on 741 and have a few days left – Hooded Crane, Great Skua, Bermuda Petrel, Smew and Nutting’s Flycatcher will take you to 456 – yes, you’ll need luck on the pelagic! And you end in Arizona where something else may yet show. (I had the Nutting’s Flycatcher quickly last Saturday.) Go for it!!

  9. Gary Matthews says:

    Exciting. Stay pumped.

  10. Loch Kilpatrick says:

    Thats a hell of a push, John . But your the man for the Job. Go John Go.
    Looking forward to the reports coming in the next few days.

  11. riley wyna says:

    We are with you!

  12. Rick Whitman says:

    This will work all week to follow the Smew:


    Ask your Toronto contacts if the 407 (north toll road) might be the quicker way to get from Pearson Airport to Whitby, and back. I think “fred” is talking about the 401 (no toll).

    Good luck, John.

  13. Marilyn Rhodes says:

    Your enthusiasm is contagious, John!

    Glad to hear you’re rallying after a disappointing few days. I suspect your sidekick Doug has had something to do with it, too…sounds like he’s been very helpful and encouraging…and I think he’s enjoying your Big Year almost as much as you are. Heck, after reading this post, I’m totally stoked again now, too, and I’m firmly planted in my easy chair in Evergreen, CO.

    Best of luck in these last few days…I’m going to savor each one of them and hope you do, too. Your adventure has made this a Big Year for me and many others and I, for one, am really going to miss the chase when the year ends. Apparently, the birding gods didn’t want you just breezing over the finish line. They’re making you work like the devil down to the last minute. I know you’re up to the challenge. You’re making history, John, and this opportunity won’t come around again for a long time. Enjoy the ride as much as possible while it lasts…

  14. Hi John,
    I saw the Nutting’s Flycatcher this morning. It’s a little tricky getting to the spot to see it. I would recommend seeing if someone could show it to you. Hopefully it’ll be a great finish to an awesome year!

  15. Al Trompler says:

    You can always count on the Musketeers, One for all and all for one!


  16. Brandon says:

    407 (toll road/ Toronto) is recommended! The 401 is apparently the busiest hwy in North America. Go north from Toronto Airport on the 427 to the 407 east. Follow to the end, which is Brock Rd. in Pickering. Go south to the 401 – and go east on the 401 to Brock St in Whitby (2 Brocks = confusing).. You’ll just have a stupid bill in the mail a few weeks later!

    Good luck!


  17. David White says:

    Now that’s what we like to hear! Back on track!! Best of luck!!!

  18. Tina Jones says:

    Another, Go John, Go, Go, Go, Go. Those birds are just waiting for you. Luck and Magic coming your way to the end.

  19. Nathan Goldberg says:

    Good luck John! I was wondering, what is the number you are trying to beat? 745 or 749?

    Whichever one, I think it is possible if everything lines up right! You can do it!


  20. Lamarr Eddings says:

    So all I have to do to meet Doug, John and Liz is blow off work? Ha no brainer. See you on the gazebo at dawn!

  21. Get those birds! Were all rooting for you!

  22. Brad Sillasen says:

    This is great stuff. Very best of luck John!

  23. Molly R says:

    Eeeeek!!! Go get ‘em! You can do it!!!!

  24. Andy Walker says:

    Awesome John, good luck for the final push!

  25. Anita Huffman says:

    Way to go John!!!

  26. Absolutely fantastic! It’s great to feel the renewed intensity. We are all behind you on these chases. I’ll work to scare up something rare down in Miami too. Good luck!

  27. Jason Cade says:

    Go get that record John! We’re all rooting for you!!

  28. Rob says:

    Since Smew is ABA listable but Hooded Crane isn’t, wondering about the thoughts behind chasing the crane vs. the duck today?

  29. Terry Ryan says:

    “Since Smew is ABA listable but Hooded Crane isn’t, wondering about the thoughts behind chasing the crane vs. the duck today?”

    So, what about Aplomado Falcon? ABA would question that bird as well. So what? Was the bird free and unrstrained? Was it in North America and not an escape? Count it.

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