Friday, 19 December 2014

Goose for Xmas

It seems ages since I've had a day out birding. Work gives me a day off for my birthday so as I was unable to take it on the day itself itself I rewarded myself with a trip out to the Norfolk coast.
To be honest, there's not much around at the moment but the weather looked good and I had a couple of targets to add to my year list.
The first one was taiga bean goose at Cantley marshes. Bean geese are a problem. They are part of a complex with pink-footed geese and as well as being closely related are very similar in structure. Bean geese are currently two sub-species, taiga and tundra, although they may well be formally split into full species eventually. The easiest way to tell them apart is that in Norfolk if it's at Cantley it's a taiga, elsewhere it's a tundra. They are very loyal to areas!!! I got to Cantley about 8.30 and the geese were easily found by the railway track, but were miles away!! So, without any photographs I wont go into the fine details of telling them apart and move on to the coast. Oh, but with a slight gloat that this took me to 250 for the year again.
Winter on the north Norfolk coast means geese. You get massive flocks of brent and pink-footed geese. Anywhere you can finds them in the fields or the sky, often numbering thousands. These are pink-footed geese which form the largest flocks. The lower one was probably over 2,000 but they get up to 8,000 or more!

  One of the rarer geese it the black brant. This is still a sub-species of the brent goose but again will probably be upgraded to full species eventually. The flock below is all common brent geese - dark neck, paler flanks and a white collar.

Black brants are very similar but you have to look for two characteristics. The first is a very sharp demarcation between the white-flanks and the dark back. Compare it to the bird behind and in the photo above.

The second thing to look for is the white collar. In "normal" brent it in only partial. In black brants it is much wider and prominent and forms a complete circle on the front of the neck.

Add them all together and you get this handsome bird present on the eye field at Cley.

 To be honest there wasn't a lot else around. The wind was blowing very strongly over the marshes so a hoped for short-eared owl didn't appear. With decent light ~I did take a few photos of waders at Burnham. In order you have turnstone, redshank, grey plover and curlew.

So only another week or so to go of this year. Been a pretty good one so far but would be nice to finish with a lifer before starting all over again next year!!