Sunday, December 05, 2010

Pre-Christmas Goose

So a few weeks early we received a gift in the form of geese provided not by a reformed scrooge but by a cold snap that drove a lot of wildfowl south to us. This particular reserve always has a flock of geese on it, feral greylags who graze, don't fly and do breed and are apparently periodically reduced in number to avoid overpopulation. Hidden within the greylags this weekend however were a little flock of whitefronted geese. You can see three of them amongst the greylags below...


Wild white-fronts are rare here although the UK gets plenty. I'll be honest, I wanted to see these as a new species and local tick rather than because I was expecting to be impressed; in the field guide they looked basically like a greylag with white bits. In the field though the difference between the fat lazy domesticated birds and these smaller, lighter more delicate vagrants was remarkable. These looked like birds which had done some miles or at least like birds which could do some miles; apparently the pink bill is indicative that these are birds from the race that breeds in Siberia..... The little white facial detail and the white lines on the wing were also surprisingly crisp and neat looking from a distance in the field giving a very "refined" appearance overall compared to the "farmyard" looking greylags.

white front 

So all in all this was a rather satisfactory twitch and a rather nice looking flock of birds to see. Once again my expectations were confounded and once again I was pleased I'd made the effort to get out in the field and see something new.

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