Friday, December 10, 2004

Grey Geese on a Grey Day

A party of 9 grey geese have been seen off and on in the Nene Washes area since 4 Dec at least. By now they had settled down to feed on beet tops on a field at Bassenhally Moor (the farmland between the North Bank and Thorney Dyke Road).

Although these had been reported as Tundra Bean Geese up to now, longer views today showed one to be a large adult Pink-footed Goose. This just goes to show how closely related some of these 'species' are, since there is not much more difference between the Pink-foot and Tundra as between the Tundra and Taiga. In this case the Pink-foot may originate from the population breeding in Svalbard (rather than the bulk of East Anglian winterers, which come from Iceland/Greenland), which is more likely to come into contact with Tundra Beans. In total there were 5 adult and 3 juvenile Tundra Bean Geese and one adult Pink-footed Goose.

I have only seen Bean Geese once before locally and that was in exactly the same field - although on that occasion they were with White-fronted Goose and Bewick's Swans.

They were fairly distant and the conditions on this very dull and cold day made viewing difficult and photography even harder. The following shot of the 5 adult Beans (including one with an extensive orange bill and white base) and the Pink-foot is certainly what is usually described as a "record shot".

Tundra Bean Geese (Anser fabalis rossicus) and Pink-footed Goose (Anser brachyrhynchus) (third from left)

Digiscoped with the Nikon CP995, Leica APO77 and 32x eyepiece.

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