Thursday, 17 November 2011

A wild goose chase

After identifying the four moths in my traps, I set off for a look over by the Three Sisters. The mist was closing in and I was wondering if I should head further down the coast where the forecast was better when I noticed some "lumps" in the first field as I left the village.

We don't get many geese on the fields round here and I was a bit surprised. I managed to pull over and I was pleased to see eight Greater White-fronted Geese happily grazing in the field.

In the UK we get White-fronts from two separate populations, the nominate subspecies, albifrons, from Russia, and the Greenland sub-species flavirostris, which mainly winters in Ireland and Western Britain. These had made the journey from Russia and were the first White-fronts I'd seen in St Margaret's.

As the mist got worse and I knew that it was much brighter to the west I drove up to Hythe and had a great view of the Rough-legged Buzzard that's been hanging round near there for a while, great views but I totally messed up my attempt to photograph the bird. At this time of the year its' worth checking the rocky groynes at Hythe. At the one near the Strade Hotel there were several Turnstones and at least one Purple Sandpiper, that disappeared between the rocks to an inaccessible, for me anyway, area.

Further along, at the rocks opposite Twiss Road I had a bit more luck and two Purple Sandpipers were extremely obliging allowing me to get a few pictures.

I've always like waders and these chubby little chaps with their bright legs and bills are right up there in my favourite list.

As I passed the Geese on my way back for a bit of lunch they were still in the same place, but seemed be resting from the exertions of eating. It was still dull so I didn't hang around long.

At about 2.30 I realised that the sun had decided to put in an appearance and that the White-fronts would now be bathed in the gentle light of a winter evening.

This gave a much better opportunity for some better, but still quite distant photos. The birds with the heavier black breast marking are the adults. Although not as spectacular as the large flock that can be seen in their regular wintering haunts there is something special about wild geese, especially when you consider that a few months ago they were breeding on the tundra in Siberia. More pictures from today here.


Derek Faulkner said...

Tony, Although I googled the name and found that you are right, that is the first time in my life that I've seen Whitefronts referred to as Greater. I can't say as I've ever seen that name used by the KOS anywhere either. Although I suspect I know why you've used the name, it'll be interesting today to ask a few bird watching chums if they've ever heard of that name either.

Tony Morris said...

I agree, but I was just following what has became the "rules". If you have more then one White-front, i.e Lesser and the normal White-front, then it needs a qualifier. So in BWP it is White-fronted Goose, but in Handbook of Birds of the World it is Greater White-fronted Goose. I have no strong feelings on the subject, what ever the English name it is Anser albifrons. The KOS uses the new spcies order, but remains confused in it's names. E.g it uses Common Redstart, and Northern Wheatear, also names which I doubt if you use.

Derek Faulkner said...

Fair enough Tony.
Went one better this morning 27 Anser brachyrhynchus along the Harty Road.

Tony Morris said...

I could do with a flock of Pink-feet here.

Derek Faulkner said...

To much, too soon spoils a person Tony. Just enjoy the Greater Whitefronts.