Mason City, IA (11-07-11)

Their strategy was brilliant.  Rita Goranson would look for the partridge in her vehicle near Clear Lake while Curt Nelson and I would work the agricultural lands around his farm just north of Mason City.  Divide and conquer.  Both would work the territories they were most familiar with.  Curt picked me up at the Day’s Inn at Mason City around 7:15 AM. We drove slowly along the gravel roads for several hours checking the soybean and corn stubble, but without any luck.  It didn’t matter because around 8:45 AM Rita called us. She had seen five Gray Partridge feeding along the road edge and had let them wander into a thin strip of tall grass next to the road.  She awaited our arrival.

Curt and I actually walked right past the flock, but when we turned around to walk back towards the car, they flushed 15 feet from us. Bingo. It’s a little bit ironic that Rita has now found Gray Partridge for both my big year and Matt’s (from Ohio) big year.  It’s also surprising that Mason City would propel me into a tie with Bob Ake for the number two position all time at 731 species.

Tomorrow morning, I fly to Halifax  to search for the Falmouth Pink-footed Goose. Stay tuned. The tide is turning. By the way, a big thanks to Aaron Brees for hatching this unorthodox plan to try for the Eurasian Tree Sparrow AND Gray Partridge in Iowa.  Also to Rita and Curt for convincing me to return to Iowa Sunday night to try for the partridge.


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22 Responses to Mason City, IA (11-07-11)

  1. Vincent Lucas says:

    Congrats. Is the “Matt” from Ohio Matt Victoria? If so, he lives in Santa Barbara, CA now. I knew him when he lived in Ohio many years ago but perhaps it’s another “Matt”?

  2. fred says:

    Matt Stenger, who is driving along the gulf coast. I would love to be doing that right now.

    John, congrats on a great accomplishment.

  3. Alison Quinn says:

    Congratulations John! It’s a quite a feat!

  4. Congrats John! Good luck with the goose, or geese!

  5. Fr. Tom Pincelli says:

    Those are awesome numbers.

  6. Robert Martinez says:

    Mason City, model for the musical The music Man, and a little north of Clear Lake where Rock & Roll died in 1959.. One more thing, I enjoy hearing your Big Year exploits, good luck with the record.

  7. Edna Duffy says:

    Congrats, John. Wonderful accomplishment. I’ve been enjoying the blog since July. Good luck chasing the geese in Newfoundland and Massachusetts. I hope you find a Great Skua on your pelagic this weekend.

    In case this isn’t on your radar screen yet check out CNN. There is a major storm moving in to Alaska….one of the worst storms ever (hurricane force winds and more than a foot of snow.

  8. Joe says:

    Where is your reptile / amphibian list? Are you putting up photos of these species? I love the idea of the Big Year for us herp people.

    The web link is to our online Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Iowa

  9. John Vanderpoel says:

    Hey Joe,

    When I do see the herps I photo them, but you’d have to search for them in individual blogs. There is a Quest for a Thousand (non-bird) list under the list column.

  10. John Vanderpoel says:

    Thanks, Alison. See you in February.

  11. Jasonin DC says:

    I’d second what Edna said about the big Alaska storm:

    Any idea if enough good stuff would be blown east to make it worth your while?

  12. Sam Plew says:

    My 3rd Grade class and I are behind you all the way! Keep it up!

    Sam Plew
    LaGrange, Indiana

  13. Rob Fergus says:

    Good on ya! Keep it going!

  14. Casey says:

    Now you only need 1 new bird every 3.7 days to tie the record. It’s been great following you this year. Keep up the “hunt”!!!

  15. Lamarr Eddings says:

    SUPER accomplishment. I feel an absolute flood of birds coming in with this storm! Go get them!

  16. Mike Hendrickson says:

    14 or 17 species to go and you will catch up to 1998 Sandy’s record ( 745-748 ) and you still got several weeks to go yet. Good luck!

  17. Keith Brink says:

    Just FYI, a major storm is headed towards Alaska as I write this. Hurricane force winds and high tides. I just might bring in some Asian species or Pacific Pelagics. Congratulations on the #2 standing, keep up the good work and I wish you all the luck.

  18. Michael Boatwright says:

    Congrats John!! Bob Ake is a close friend and one of my mentors, so it is with mixed emotions I say “Go John, Go!!” Good luck with the Pink-foot..

  19. Marilyn Rhodes says:

    731 Woot! Woot! A tremendous effort, John! So proud of you! Just brilliant! You’ll get your tie-breaker soon, I know.

  20. Dave Brown says:

    Congrats John!! Hope I can help you add a few more birds later in the year.

  21. Aaron Brees says:

    Glad Iowa worked out for you John. I really thought getting partridge without snow on the ground was a long shot, but good local help obviously goes a long way!

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