Nova Scotia (11-09-11)

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.

Pink-footed Goose at Falmouth, NS (Photo by John Vanderpoel)

Pink-footed Goose (Photo by John Vanderpoel)

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.

John Vanderpoel Smiling with Success (Photo by Rick Whitman)

David Currie, John Robertson, John Vanderpoel and Rick Whitman (with the Pink-footed Goose in Background)

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!!


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25 Responses to Nova Scotia (11-09-11)

  1. Ann Nightingale says:

    Congratulations, John! I’m liking your Canadian birds! I’m in Harlingen for the Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival. Ran into JD, and mentioned our discussion about the IBWO. ;-)


  2. Congrats on the Pink-footed Goose! Good luck on the Barnacle.

  3. John Berner says:

    Congrats on #732. I met you at the Elf Owl (Dugout Wells) in Big Bend in late april this year.

    Rose-throated becard which you need per your list was at estero llano grande in RGV today.
    Date: Wed, 9 Nov 2011 17:25:32 -0600
    Reply-To: Kyle Ohaver
    Sender: Birding discussion list for Texas
    From: Kyle Ohaver
    Subject: Estero Llano Grande- Rose-throated Becard and more
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset=”us-ascii”

    A Female Rose-throated Becard was found at Estero Llano Grande today by a guided trip from the RGV Birding Festival.

    Please check in with the front desk for more information on last known whereabouts and other great finds in the park.

    See ya on the trails,

    Kyle R. O’Haver

    Estero Llano Grande State Park

    World Birding Center

    Natural Resource Specialist

    154-A Lakeview Drive

    Weslaco, Texas 78596

    956-565-3919 (Phone)

    956-565-2864 (Fax)

    TEXBIRDS help file and Texas birding links at:

    Back to: Top of message | Previous page | Main TEXBIRDS page

  4. Nick Block says:

    I’m sure you already have heard, and I know you’re busy for the next few days, but a Rose-throated Becard was found at Estero Llano Grande State Park today on the first day of field trips for the Rio Grande birding festival. I hope it sticks for you! Congrats on the goose!

  5. Linda says:

    I have been following you all year and I’m so excited that you have made it this far! Here’s to the birds you’ve seen and the birds still to come! /opens a celebratory bottle of wine…
    Btw someday I hope to challenge your record and do a big year of my own…

  6. Jason Cade says:

    Yes just about to pass on the same info the Becard along with the sporadic Black-vented Oriole I’m sure you already have a trip planned. Congrats on the Goose! Keep tallying away.

  7. Deanna Campbell says:

    FANTASTIC! Congratulations! Finally a worthwhile Wild Goose Chase!
    Excited to see how much further you can take this – lots of time left!
    Good Pelagic Luck, Deanna

  8. Lynn Hemink says:

    Congratulations and well done, John! It looks as if you have a few good opportunities ahead as well. Don’t let up…Sandy is the only one on the horizon now. You can do it!

    Lynn Hemink

  9. Congrats on 732! What an accomplishment!

  10. Jim Mountjoy says:

    Congratulations! We will be in suspense to see how high you will climb, but this is already quite an accomplishment…

  11. Gary Matthews says:

    John, Congrats. What a fitting bird to move you into second place.

  12. Bob Ake says:

    Congratulations and best wishes for a bunch more.

  13. Congrats on the Pink Footed goose and I wish you luck on the Barnacle today. In case you haven’t heard, Whooper Swan have returned to Adak for the winter; a Dusky Thrush has also been spotted there this week.

  14. Sam Plew says:

    Congratulations, John! I feel a very very good year is still to come your way! My 3rd grade classroom and I are pulling for you!

  15. Jim Vanderpoel says:

    Way to go John! I am also pleased about the Long-tailed Weasel, as you have seen so many Ermine during this Quest. Before this year I had only seen one of each. Now you have to get the Striped Skunk–I mean “C’Mon, Man!!!”

  16. David White says:

    Second place on a life bird. Congradulations!!

  17. Marilyn Rhodes says:

    John, I’m thrilled for you! Your Colorado birding buddies are following your daily progress and rooting for you all the way. You’re within striking distance of the Komito record now…fingers crossed here. Go for it!

  18. Nick says:

    The “smiling with success” picture is great. What an accomplishment! May all sorts of newcomers keep you busy these next weeks…

  19. Ron Howard says:

    Congratulations John! It was nice meeting you on the Fort Bragg trip and I have really enjoyed following your adventure. Keep it up.

  20. Janneke Kimstra says:

    Hi John,

    Great!! Onwards and upwards!! It’s fun to read how exited you guys get over a species that winters here in de 10.000s every year and that the farmers get compensated for the damage they do to wintercrops…

    Keep going!!

    Janneke Kimstra

  21. Rob Fergus says:

    Now just keep up your 20+ new birds/month pace and you’ll be in good shape! :-)

  22. John says:

    Hey John, if you got the Barnacle Goose today like I think you did AND you get the Rose-throated Becard in TX, I may be willing to bump up my prediction. If you get a Great Skua, I definitely will have to.

  23. John Vanderpoel says:

    Thanks Ron. Next time we get together on a pelagic trip, I smell a rarity.

  24. George wood says:

    Congrats! I need pink foot for 600 life list. Can you plse provide phone or e of folks that could help me? I may fly tomorrow from Philly. Regards, George wood 610-331-1637

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