Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ross's Geese Galore

This afternoon I drove down into the south county to look for widely reported white-fronted geese. The first place I stopped was the 3 Oaks ponds where it was quickly clear that there was a group of snow geese (about 25 total) but no white-fronteds. I started counting the snow geese and out popped the little guy towards the left side of the image:
This certainly appears to be a Ross's goose to my eyes. It's obviously much smaller (smaller bodied even than the Herring gulls) with a rounder head, shorter thicker neck, and much shorter bill without the deep convexity at the bill base that the snow geese are exhibiting. With closer inspection the blue bill base and very limited black along the cutting edges of the bill can be seen. As always, the pics at this site are limited by being shot through a chain link fence (though perhaps its presence is re-assuring to the birds and allows closer approach).

I called Tim about the bird and after I re-located white-fronted geese at a Galien farm pond he decided to swing down and try to pick the birds up. By the time he arrived at 3 Oaks, all the geese were gone, but he swung through the Scottdale plains on his way back (which I had also driven through on the way home), and in an impressive display of one-ups-man-ship, called me a few hours later that he had a mixed flock of Snow and Ross's Geese there about 6 miles from my house. He had counted 14 Ross's, and I independently also pulled the same number out of the flock. He had noted earlier that when the flock was more widely dispersed that the birds seemed segregated into pairs. When I arrived the birds were coalescing into a sub-flock amidst the 40 or so snows. You'll have to take my word for bird #12, though I'm personally surprised that as many of the birds are quasi-confirmable in one shot as it is; they spent the bulk of their time dozing or grazing. (The full resolution image is much better).
Now, assuming that Ross's are still write-up birds in Michigan, you'll have to excuse me while I go work on my homework...

1 comment:

Jeff Schultz said...

Ha! Writing up birds...one of my least favorite things to do. Better you than me tho!! Congrats to you and Tim!! Nice find guys.