Saturday, December 24, 2011
Christmas Eve Day
John Vanderpoel is back in Colorado. He posted yesterday that his last 3 days on Adak unfortunately did not bring him any more new year birds. Even worse, someone reported seeing a dozen whooper swans fly over the airport on Thursday a few hours before he was due to fly back to Anchorage. He had been looking for whooper swans for 3 days without success.
Having missed the whoopers, instead of staying overnight Thursday in Anchorage, and trying one more time for the erratic and elusive dusky thrush that was seen again on Thursday afternoon, he made the gut wrenching decision to go home on the redeye Thursday night. I just saw on NARBA that the thrush was seen again Friday afternoon. John had returned to Alaska in hopes that his success there in September and October--19 new year birds--would continue, and put him in a position to eclipse Sandy's record. Instead he came away with just 1 new bird for the year, and his YTD total is still at 741.
With 8 days left in his big year he still plans to fly to NC on Monday to be able to go out with Brian Patteson on Tuesday on the Stormy Petrel II in search of a great skua. From there he will probably head over to TN to see the hooded crane, and then onto AZ to try for the Nutting's flycatcher. It would be somewhat ironic if the flycatcher ends up being his last new bird for the year since that was Sandy Komito's first bird of the year back in 1998.
If he gets those 3 birds he will have done very well for the last few days of December. Bob Ake, Lynn Barber and Sandy each only saw 1 more new bird after this date during their big years, and I did not see any. Stay tuned!