I arrived in Halifax last night at 10:00 PM Atlantic Time. Another long day both in the air and at multiple airports had me feeling pretty tired. But I figured that tired feeling would quickly fade under the adrenalin rush from seeing my target bird – the Pink-footed Goose originally located by Eric Mills on Oct. 22. Those of you who actually saw the movie The Big Year know that this particular rarity has a prominent role in the plot. And speaking of the movie, several people have asked me to review it. I’ll leave that to the movie critics, but I will say that from the perspective of a Big Year competitor, I feel that the movie successfully captured the essence of a North American Big Year. The thrill, the heartbreak, the camaraderie formed with others met along that year-long road. I must also add that although Angelica Huston did a good job in capturing one side of Debi Shearwater, she missed the other side of Debi – the warmth and humor that’s there if you dig a little
Anyway, David Currie picked me up at the airport and invited me to stay the night with him and his lovely wife Louise. It was easy to catch a good night sleep and I awoke refreshed this morning and ready to chase. Dave and I arrived at Falmouth after a forty-minute drive and set up in the church parking lot opposite the field that the geese had been flocking to the last few days. Visibility was clear with the sun positioned directly behind us. After a couple of minutes we were joined by Rick Whitman and soon after John Robertson who lives five houses down the street and has been keeping taps on the Pink-footed recently. Curt McNeil then joined our group as well. The Canada Geese began to arrive in the fields around 8:30 AM. Everything seemed on course for a stress free morning. Almost immediately though, the geese deviated slightly from their previous routine. The majority of the geese began to land in a field a half mile further west than usual so Dave, John and I drove over to check it out. Rick held fort at the original location since there were a few landing there as well. No luck and then incoming geese slowed down. Dave thought we may have to check the Falmouth dike road, but we stopped back at John Robertson’s house first. Then several other small groups of Canada Geese began to filter in. Around 9:35 AM we spotted a distant group of fifteen geese flying towards us. As they approached Dave was on the Pink-footed quickly, followed immediately by Rick and John. Bingo! The Pink-footed Goose landed in the field in front of us 100 yards away.
How good does that get? High fives were exchanged by all. I was ecstatic. A life goose and number 732 for the year! I’m sure they felt a wee bit relieved that my trip to Nova Scotia did not go in vain.
After our group disbanded, Dave and I birded Cape Sable Island where the best animal of the day was a Long-tailed Weasel crossing the road – a new mammal for my Quest for a Thousand! All in all a thoroughly enjoyable day. I’ve now moved ahead of Bob Ake into sole position of second place behind Sandy Komito’s 745 species. Tomorrow I fly to Boston to team up with Doug Koch and “Bland Liz” Southworth for a run at the Barnacle Goose. Stay tuned, it should be anything but dull.
A big thank you to Dave and Louise Currie for being gracious hosts, to Rick Whitman for getting this whole ball rolling and to John Robertson for keeping tabs on the goose and for hosting us in his front yard!!