A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

Monday, 17 November 2014

Snow Goose!

Having decided earlier on in the year to make Snow Goose one of my targets, once the autumn influx of wild geese arrived I was on high alert for any being reported in Lancashire or Cumbria – much closer than those often reported at the icy lochs in the far reaches of Scotland.

Therefore when an individual at Eagland Hill, Pilling turned up I was keen to go, and with no sign of the Blackpoll Warbler at Easington making a reappearance it was all systems go up the M6.

Arriving at the potato field it had been frequenting, we quickly locked on to the bird, a fine adult white-morph busy feeding amongst the hundreds of Pink-footed Geese. The black tips to the feathers on the wing are a positive point for this bird being of wild origin, and with no sign of any wing clipping, rings, tags or a preference to coming to bread, as well as its wild geese companions, this is as good a candidate as any for being legit (unlike one in the Norfolk area a few years ago that hung around with some suspicious looking Barnacle Geese….).

Snow Goose
Record shot through the scope of the Snow Goose
This particular bird is being reported as a Lesser Snow Goose, a slightly smaller subspecies than the Greater Snow Goose, yet larger than the similar (though not accepted on the British list) Ross’s Goose. All three are alike in appearance, although the blue-morph is considerably rarer in Greater Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese. As well as the size difference, Greater Snow Geese tend to nest further North and East than their smaller counterparts, and are only found on the Atlantic flyway of North America.

Snow Goose
The black tips to the wings clearly visible
Lesser Snow Geese are actually considered to be the single most abundant goose species in North America with 5 million breeding in Canada alone, and although populations do also occur in Eastern Siberia, it is from here that our birds will have travelled from, getting lost on their migration route from southern Canada through to their wintering ground in the Gulf of Mexico – even more likely this autumn considering the fallout from Hurricane Gonzalo.  

Whooper Swans

Whooper Swans feeding nearby also offered great views as they dabbled in the small muddy puddles, although sadly we couldn’t locate any smaller Bewick’s hiding amongst them.

This brings me up to 307 in total, smashing my previous goal to see 300 birds before the year was out – and with 2 months remaining I can now surely reach 310 by the end of December. 

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