Sunday, January 29, 2017

Wild Goose Chase

Last weekend we went looking for geese. Wild geese. In Salem County, NJ, which is an hour or so south of us. We were looking for some Greater White-fronted Geese, which breed in the northern tundra and winter in California and Mexico.

And occasionally in Salem County, NJ.

(Spoiler Alert: We found them.)

But first we found some Snow Geese. Lots of Snow Geese. Thousands of Snow Geese. Which also breed in the far northern tundra. As can be seen below, they are common in NJ this time of year.

Here we see them flying, spooked by a Bald Eagle (which is somewhere in this image). This is as about as close as they got to us.

We weren't looking for Snow Geese.

We have plenty right here in our neighborhood. Here's a [bad phone] shot I took of a flock on my morning commute to work, not four miles from the house.

They've been moving from farm field to farm field, eating and leaving.

No, the geese we were looking for were not hanging with Snow Geese. They were hanging with Canada Geese. So we first scanned the place they had been reported from on several occasions, Mannington Marsh.

They were not there.

So we drove around, scanning any groups of Canada Geese we came across (not many).

And then we found a flock, with an odd goose with the Canadas.

This goose.

It may not be obvious from the first image of the Snow Geese flock above, but it was a dark, cloudy, rainy day, and thus I left the big camera home. And I was reduced to digiscoping with my pocket camera. The results are not really even 'blog worthy'. But here they are.

A close up.

At first we thought we'd found the juvenile Greater White-fronted Goose (reports said there were three, two adults and one juvenile). But further study convinced us that we had no idea what this is. It is the white eye ring that is problematic. In the end we decided that it is a juvenile Snow Goose, in a transitional plumage.

So we went back to driving around. With no luck what so ever.

We decided to head on home. Mannington Marsh was on the way so we stopped to scan again.

And way off in the distance, (to far to even digiscope), mixed in a flock of Canada Geese that had not been there on our first pass, we found them. Two Greater White-fronted Geese. Both adult birds.

The juvenile that had been with them was nowhere to be found.

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