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.