We were eating breakfast at the little cafe about 9:00 AM. Bland Liz, Zeke, Doug and I were all hungry from standing out in the wind, rain and cold. The geese had all departed to feed in the fields and again the Graylag Goose was not to be seen. Just as the waitress was bringing us our food the phone rang. Susan Billetdeux from NARBA was on the other line. I smiled. An early Christmas present? When Susan calls it often meant another chasable rarity has shown up somewhere in North America. But she surprised me when she asked if we’d seen the bird. There was a report that it had been seen! Moments later, Leah den Besten was on the phone asking us if we’d seen the goose. It was apparently right in front of Zeke and I on the Richelieu R. on the east side. We’d missed it!
No one was smiling as we wolfed down breakfast. Yesterday it was personal. Today we hated that damn goose. I mean isn’t it the plainest goose in the world? Of course it was the type species for the genus Anser. Probably Linnaeus himself named it. We drove the fields trying to find feeding flocks, without any luck so we repositioned ourselves on the west bank at around 12:00 PM and waited….and waited. There wasn’t a single goose on the river. Things looked bleak. I promised myself that if necessary I would stay thru Thursday. 1:00 PM came and went. Then 1:30 PM. Soon after though, an odd sight appeared down the road moving towards us. I really couldn’t believe my eyes.
It was Santa Claus and he was running straight towards us. If Susan Billetdeaux didn’t have an early present, perhaps Santa did?
This gave us a small lift. We decided to cross back over to the east bank of the Richeliue R. and set up position where it had been seen this morning. Unfortunatly, the geese came in late. Around 4:00 PM, 15 to 20 thousand Greater Snow Geese pored out of the sky to alight on the Richelieu about 1 mile south of us. It was a mind staggering, incredible sight.
But where were the Canada Geese. At 4:10PM we heard them. Three thousand Canadas came in-now all at once and unlike yesterday when they staggered in over a period of 30 minutes. We had to work fast, light was fading. There were five scopes on the water, sifting through each Canada to find a goose without the white cheek patch. Leah spotted it first and believe me folks it was a hell of a spot. I went to her scope to verify and clearly saw the plain patterning, shorter thicker neck and orange bill. Soon everyone but Liz was on it, but the light was fading fast and the current was pushing the entire armada down river
Tomorrow, Doug will drop me off in Albany, NY where I will fly to San Antonio, then drive to Salineno for the Brown Jay. But before we go, we’ll help give Bland Liz an early Christmas present. Graylag Goose on a silver platter!