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.