PINK-FOOTED GOOSE – revisited (#600!)

Pink-Footed GooseI have always kept a North American “life-list” but balancing a career and family slowed  down my birding in the 1990’s and 2000’s. Additionally, I lived in England for six of those years. My kids encouraged me to focus on my “600 goal” so I picked up the pace in 2011. A weekend pelagic trip off Half Moon Bay, California in August brought me to 595. The “North American Rare Bird Alert” (NARBA) network alerted me by e-mail of several Autumn specialties. Four spontaneous trips to see these individual rarities in Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, increased my count to 599 in mid-November. Now my family and close friends demanded that number 600 be “really special”. But what bird should it be?

Coincidentally a birding movie (“The Big Year”) was released October 14th. At the end of the movie, actor Steve Martin tells actor Jack Black that the very rare Pink-footed Goose has been spotted “by his friend JEFF SHAW”. MY great friend since kindergarten at Haverford is Jeff Shaw! The answer was obvious to the Shaw’s who had seen this movie……#600 had to be the Pink-footed Goose. But this bird does not frequent North America every year. While sitting with Jeff and his family at the Princeton-Yale football game, I googled “pink-footed goose, 2011, north america” and astonishingly, one of these birds had been frequenting a Nova Scotia farm with thousands of Canada Geese.

I could not leave town for five days….but thankfully on November 18th, I flew to Halifax and friendly knowledgeable local birders (John Robertson and Dave Currie) helped me locate this “code 4” vagrant. It was feeding on soybeans a mile away but one time it flew overhead..and I nailed it with my camera. A champagne toast followed!Dave, John, GCW GOOSE!

About George C. Wood

A birder since age ten, but not necessarily an avid "lister", I am closing in on 700 (*800!) species seen in North America.....hoping to capture each sighting with my camera.
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2 Responses to PINK-FOOTED GOOSE – revisited (#600!)

  1. Gerald Rosenberg says:

    George-  I enjoyed reading your story and I think I nailed your goose in the picture.  I also remember playing tennis with Jeff Shaw at Rocky Fork about 20 years ago.  I’m heading back to work in a week, we’ll see what happens.  Might venture back for end of paddle season here, hope you are having a good one.  Jerry

  2. Wendy says:

    Brilliant!

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