Strategies – 10-26-11

Once again southward bound, I’ll arrive home tonight around 9:30 PM.  Tomorrow morning Boulder public radio station KGNU is interviewing me live at 8:00 AM.  In the evening, I’ll attend a function at the University of Colorado (Go CU) Museum with a theme of “Birds and Movies”.  Friday evening a bunch of us, including my son Scott, are going to see “The Big Year” After that I’m ready to roll.  There are several questions I’ll need to wrestle with.

  1. Should I chase the Cuban Bullfinch in South Miami?  South Miami has had some crazy weather lately so it could indeed be a wild bird – rarities such as Kirtland’s Warbler, Greater White-fronted Goose and Bananaquit have all showed up in South Florida within the last week.  However, Cuban Bullfinches are kept as caged birds in South Miami.  Maybe I should go for the bullfinch and try to relocate the Bananaquit?
  1. A Pink-footed Goose in Nova Scotia has now joined the Maine Barnacle Goose as sitting ducks (excuse the pun).  When do I pull the trigger?  Should I go now or on the front end of my Nov 12 Massachusetts Pelagic trip?  These geese sometimes hold for the winter, but a major snowstorm can move them put of an area permanently.
  1. When do I chase the Eurasian Tree Sparrow?  Can I fit it in to the Nov 12 Massachusetts Pelagic trip?
  1. Debi Shearwater has declared an “Emergency Pelagic Trip” for this Saturday out of Bodega Bay.  I’m tempted to give it a try. JLD will be on board as well as some of the Heavy Hitters and a host of other top seabird experts.

Or hopefully another rarity will have shown up by the time I land in Denver that requires my immediate attention.  How about a Marsh Sandpiper in Southern California? Or an Eared Quetzal in Arizona?  The list of dream birds could go on and on. By the way, if any of you readers would like to add your two cents then please feel free to do so on the blog.  I’ve also updated my target list under the “Lists” column.  You’ll notice that there are more “fantasy” birds in there than previously, but the “fantasy birds” are all at least logical as far as seasonality goes.  For example you won’t find White-eared Hummingbird or Flame-colored Tanager on this target list because records for these two species just don’t occur in the late fall/winter season.

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29 Responses to Strategies – 10-26-11

  1. Amy says:

    Hi John,
    I have been following your website for a few months now. Very exciting stuff! Have you seen a Red-Capped Cardinal at all this year? I could not find it on your list. There is one being reported at a feeder in Hereford, AZ. Just thought I would share in case you were interested. Good luck with the rest of your year!

  2. Scott says:

    Hey Hollywood…what’s with the numbered list?

  3. John says:

    Skip the Bullfinch (I can’t imagine it would be accepted). Go on the pelagic and/or chase the geese. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

  4. Nick Block says:

    Definitely go on the pelagic. Definitely don’t bother with the bullfinch b/c it has a 0.0001% chance of acceptance (although go ahead and see it if something else takes you to FL). Base the timing of the geese/sparrow chase on how efficient you need to be with flight costs. My 2 cents. :-) I can’t wait to see what you do!

  5. Bob Ake says:

    The pelagic is the best choice. I would have thought you’d have reserved a space already. Although pelagics are always a crap shoot, your chances for a goodie are far from zero. Those geese or others will be available during the next two months. When you pass 731, and you will, please give me a call at your convenience. You’re having a great year and believe me, it’s far from over.

  6. Jason Cade says:

    Go for the pelagic!! (and here’s why)…..

    From Seabirders and Calbirders will be interested in this report from Jeff N. Davis:

    > We did an aerial survey back and forth over the Davidson Seamount today,
    10/25. Bird and mammal diversity and abundance were relatively low. However, we
    did have some goodies. Highlights were a MOTTLED PETREL (JND) and a
    BOOBY–probably a Red-footed (Dave Lewis).

  7. Jason Cade says:

    By the way congrats on the 51!! life birds for your big year so far! That’s really amazing. Where does that put your US life list at?

  8. Cliff Hawley says:

    I’d skip the bullfinch. After seeing pictures of the bird showing what looks to be cage-wear I can’t imagine the FL State Records Committee would accept it. I think the west coast pelagic with Debi is going to find something awesome. I would combine the goose chase with the east coast pelagic because there is usually a Pink-foot and a Barnacle somewhere in the northeast. Someone just had a Pink-footed Goose in Turner’s Falls, Mass. so you wouldn’t even have to go all the way to Nova Scotia for it.

  9. Dan says:

    The Bananaquit has not been refound and is in a location (Cafe Florida) that is notorious for one-day wonders. You might want to wait until someone else relocates it.

  10. Morgan Churchill says:

    Do the Monterey Pelagic.

    Hold off on the Bullfinch. there is some evidence it is of captive origin (feather wear by some observers) and will not be accepted. However the I would probably go after the bird if something else is interesting causes you to head down to Florida

  11. I agree with the other people.

    The bullfinch is likely not going to be accepted. Go for the pelagic or chase the geese is what I say. Just my opinion though. Look foreword to reading about your journey, whatever you decide!

    Good luck!

  12. Amy Kearns says:

    Definitely the pelagic! And then the geese (if no other rarities show up elsewhere).

  13. Loch Kilpatrick says:

    Get your butt to California, Then check on the Bullfinch and Bananaquit.
    Go John Go.

  14. john longaphy says:

    the Pink Footed goose was still here in Nova Scotia, today, Thuursday Oct 27.

  15. Dave Brown says:

    Hey John,

    I’d have to say take the pelagic. I think the Geese will be here to get especially given that two Pink-Foots are now in the NE. I’m sure this won’t be the last we hear of Barnacle Goose either. The potential exists on this pelagic for something outlandish that you would have no chance at otherwise. It seems possible that you could combine Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Gray Partridge, Geese and the east coast pelagic in one eastward adventure.

  16. Linda Vanderpoel says:

    OR. . . #4 should I spend the week-end at home (and no “home” is not the latest hotel room) with my son who is here from Houston. . . . ????

  17. David White says:

    Linda Vanderpoel says:
    October 27, 2011 at 3:45 PM
    OR. . . #4 should I spend the week-end at home (and no “home” is not the latest hotel room) with my son who is here from Houston. . . . ????

    Maybe they would like to go with you out on the boat for a lifelong memory together. You know, white caps, green gills…survival as a family. Yeah, that’s it. Actually you’ve been incredibly fortunate to have such a supportive family. Best of luck.

  18. Mike Hendrickson says:

    “OR. . . #4 should I spend the week-end at home (and no “home” is not the latest hotel room) with my son who is here from Houston. . . . ????”

    Linda: I would rather see my son then chase any life bird in North America even if I was doing a Big Year or not. Family always come first over birdwatching in my world. But hey that is just me.

  19. John Schwarz says:

    John, I met you on several of Debi Shearwater’s trips in September (Monterey Bay, Bodega Bay, and Half Moon Bay. I’m the guy to whom you lent your cell phone to call my wife from the parking lot at Half Moon Bay. I am enjoying following your quest. We have had more than one Barnacle Goose here in Connecticut each if the past two Novembers. I’ll post a note here if we get one this fall.

  20. John says:

    Go west young man

  21. Mark Gabriel says:

    I think that my son would tell me to get me ass on the road, if it made sense, and keep on with the Big Year. No, I know that he would.

  22. I guess I would go with the pelagic, less cost, and at least if nothing shows up, you’ll be in good heavy hitters company. The geese will most likely over winter somewhere, and I don’t think they are going to return where they came from anytime soon, if not forever. You mentioned going to see “The Big Year”, and you lucky it’s still being shown in theaters, because it’s probably going down in film history as one of the biggest flops and money losers ever released. While you were away, I got a Blu-Ray burner and burned my first 73 minute authored Blu-Ray bird video. I’ll send you a free copy if you break the Big Year record. Good luck where ever you wind up….

  23. William Vanderpoel says:

    Linda does have a very valid and real point! She has been Miraculously supportive. Maybe Linda and Scott would like a nice trip to sunny California, it snowed in Denver!

    Speaking of birds, how about those Cardinals? Maybe a quick trip to St Louis, pick up the Tree Sparrow and then goes see the Cardinals!!!!!

    Bill V

  24. Jim McCarty says:

    Hey John:

    Subject: Pink Footed Goose at Power Canal now
    From: “Dave Small”
    Date: Fri, 28 Oct 2011 07:39:29 -0400

    Mark Taylor just called to report the Pink-footed Goose is at the Turners
    falls Power canal this morning. He asked I pass on the message…

    Dave Small

    Athol Massachusetts


    Dave AT

  25. Robb Welch says:

    Saw a Black Throated Magpie Jay at Borderfield Park Bird and Butterfly Garden in San Diego this morning. Saw one that then joined a group of 5-6 and flew south. Met a group of seasoned birders that told me they show up there from time ot time. I can’t even find it on ABA list, so I don’t know if it counts.

  26. Tuma Young says:

    The PFGO has been there since Saturday (a week now). I have some picture on my website if you want to take a look.
    click on the album titled “Pink-footed Goose” and click on each picture to enlarge it.
    If you are also inclined-check out our friends website “Cape Breton Birds”. The Murrants often have rarities up on Cape Breton


  27. Bruce Sherman says:

    I listened online to the 8AM show on KGNU this morning. No John. Do you know when your interview will be aired?

  28. Hi John, I am enjoying your adventure immensely. Keep going and good luck for the rest of the year.

    The word here in Florida is that there’s more chance of a democrat becoming governor than the Cuban Bullfinch being accepted by the FOSRC! The Bananaquit hasn’t been seen since the day it was first found and was not seen by birders searching later on that day.
    Save a trip to Florida when there is positive news on something you need.
    I would go for the geese now don’t wait. Don’t leave anything to chance. Weather, hunters, illness….could all play a part in thwarting a delayed twitch for these birds. Strike while the iron is hot and once there in the bag you can re-direct your efforts to other birds.



  29. Yousif Attia says:

    Hi John,

    You don’t know me but I’ve been following your effort. If you haven’t yet decided, I vote go on the pelagic. There’s always a chance you can get a Pink-footed Goose in an obscure hot spring on top of a mountain in Colorado on December 31…..or wait….that only happens in the movies….

    Good luck,


    P.S. If you still need Gray Partridge by the end of November, they are quite easy out of Calgary – I’ll hook you up.

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