Thursday, 28 January 2010

Wild Goose Chase

I was surprised when I heard that there was a "Tundra" Bean Goose on the field next to Walmer Castle. While Bean Geese aren't rarities, they are scarce in Kent.

Bean Goose, Walmer

When I first arrived, I couldn't see the bird and thought I'd missed it, but then it put it's head up and I realised it was sitting in a dip in the grass.

Bean Goose, Walmer

Bean Geese are divided in to two groups, sometimes considered separate species, Tundra Bean Geese and Taiga Bean Geese, named after the habitat they occur in. Tundra Bean Geese are more usual visitors, Taiga' being scarce in Kent.

Bean Goose, Walmer

I was surprised when I looked closely at this bird that it appeared to have a fairly substantial and long bill, normally associated with Taiga Bean Geese. Tundra Bean Geese normally look small billed, rather like the Pink-footed Goose I photo'd the other day, they were once considered conspecific, after all.

Bean Goose Walmer

On the other hand the neck looked quite short and the yellow on the bill wasn't very extensive, good for Tundra Bean Goose.

Greylags, Worth Marshes

Three more Bean Geese have been reported from Worth Marshes so I went along the Ancient Highway looking for them. The first distant Geese I found were two Greylags, half hidden in the long vegetation.

Three Bean Geese with a White-front, Worth Marshes

Just beyond the Chequers I found a group of five Geese, Three Bean Geese, a White-fronted Goose and the Pink-footed Goose (not in this picture) that has bee around for a while. Again I was surprised by the Bean Geese. These did seem longer necked and larger billed than the Pink-footed Goose, but again the yellow on the bill wasn't that extensive. I was quickly realising that I was finding separating the two forms of Bean Geese more difficult than I expected.

Pink-foot and White-front Worth Marshes (click for bigger image)

The Pink-foot and the White-front wandered off to the left, through the flock of Lapwings, the back of the Pink-foot looked very pale in the sunlight.

Fieldfare and Redwing on Worth Marshes

The fields were full of Fieldfares and Redwings, the water-logged pastures seemingly making prey readily available.

Song Thrush

There also seemed to be a good number of Song Thrushes with them. These may well be continental birds, but you need to examine them in the hand to see the differences.

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