The Tundra Bean-Goose breeds in the tundra of northern Eurasia. It winters in agricultural landscapes in eastern China, Central Asia and Western Europe. The only reason it is a “code 3” and not a “code 5” in North America is because one can get lucky seeing it in….ALASKA!

This morning I was walking our puppy (“Lucky”) on an extra long route before the impending snowstorm. I glanced at my phone for the time, thinking I was cutting it close for a scheduled zoom call. A text interrupted me….oh good, my call had shifted to 12:30. Just then another text came in from NARBA (North American Rare Bird Alert). It was reporting a Tundra Bean-Goose being seen on the Springton Reservoir in Media, twenty minutes from my house! No way!! I re-read it. It was true.

I immediately called my (retired) birding buddy Win Shafer, half-expecting he had reported the bird. Well, Win was out scouting birds for Saturday’s Christmas Bird Count, and he happened to be at Episcopal Academy on Route 252 near Springton Reservoir. But he hadn’t seen the alert for this mega-rarity, never-ever-been-seen-in-Pennsylvania goose!

Within fifteen minutes I was packing my car with scope, binoculars, camera AND “Lucky” the puppy, when my cell rang. Win was on the bird! “Go to Springton Middle School”. I was off. The 11 mile drive felt like forever. I imagined every car on the road had plans to see the goose. Why was everyone turning where I was turning? Hurry up. Hurry the **** up people!

I turned into the School driveway and was quickly sandwiched between school busses and the entire Springton Middle School parent population in line for early (say snow-day) pick-up. Ugh….I called Win. No answer. Expletive. I drove down a one-way drive, maybe it wasn’t a road actually….I had to get out of there and find Colt Road, the road originally mentioned in the text alert.

I literally drove past Win and then recognized Jeff Gordon – the President of the American Birding Association (headquartered in nearby Delaware). “Have you seen it”? Win yelled. “NO”, I responded frantically. “It’s behind that house” and he gestured across the street. Among the larger Canada Geese stood our bird. Its orange legs jumped out at me.

Absolutely incredible. And I was on my 12:30 work call without a problem.


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.
This entry was posted in Quest for 700 (*800!). Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to A FIRST for PENNSYLVANIA!

  1. david lincoln says:

    Congrats Georgie … made my afternoon!

    [212610_02_Element Logos3]
    Growth Equity for Energy & Industrial Innovation

    David Lincoln
    Managing Partner
    565 E. Swedesford Road; Suite 207
    Wayne, PA 19087
    •: 610.322.2100 • : david@elementpartners.com
    Asst: Patti Szczepaniak •: 610.574.9069 • : patti@elementpartners.com

  2. Man. You had me all angsted up. High stress. CONGRATULATIONS!!

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. 75ford76 says:

    Sweet!!! Well done Cat!

  4. Joe Weisbord says:

    Kismet! Has to be one of the easiest mega rarities you’ve ever gotten. Congrats!!

  5. jjshaws says:

    Love this! You’re so good that they now com to YOU! XOXO

    Sent from my iPad


  6. Nina Weisbord says:

    My husband is a STUD! ♥️

  7. Nina Weisbord says:

    My husband is a STUD!

  8. wistarwood says:

    Bro, LOVE IT! What a great story. Tied up in middle school snow-day pick-up – F*CK!

    W _________________________ Wistar Wood 617-291-1400 cell

  9. Julie Zickefoose says:

    Oh what a great writeup, what a great bird, what a lagniappe for you, George!! Whee! and hooray! I think Jeff Gordon has had a ton of fun with this bird, too. And George Armistead, both dear friends. Wish I could be there!

    Warm merry wishes,


    • JULIE! I’m flattered. I think of you often and the great BIG DAY we had in Carrington, ND with Bill. Lagniappe….SAT word. Had to look it up:)
      I do hope you and yr kids are well. As we Quakers say: “Hold Him in the Light”. Peace and warm wishes from 19041.

  10. Chris Coss says:

    Hi George it looks like Jessica and I were right behind you. We saw it at the middle school at 12:40. What an exciting day for PA birders!

  11. Kaiser, Larry says:

    Great story, George, and a great “get”. A very rare siting to be sure. And fortunately close by.

    Sent from my iPhone

  12. Julie Foster says:

    Wow! Congratulations!

  13. Jay Bennett says:

    Nice to see something good in 2020!!! ________________________________

  14. billwat55 says:

    Great post


    William J. Watkinson
    President & CEO
    Watkinson Capital Advisors LLC
    10 Valley Stream Parkway Suite 202
    Malvern, Pa 19355

    Direct: 484-588-0120
    Toll Free: 855-378-3429 ext 100
    Fax: 610-989-9092

    eMail: bill@watkinsoncap.com
    Web: http://www.watkinsoncap.com

  15. michael bradley says:


    Congratulations! I could feel your excitement in the post.

    Merry Christmas.



  16. Matthew Holmes says:

    Glad to see COVID travel Restrictions didn’t apply to your visiting friend!

    Merry Xmas Matt

  17. Dorothy Barclay Weisbord says:

    Thanks George. A wonderful bird and story. Great legs. D

  18. Absolute Beautiful… Beautifully written… Thank you for sharing..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s