Monday, March 14, 2011

Great goose round-up

There's been some decent year birds around lately though I haven't had a ton of time to write a lot about them. The goal for a Berrien year lister is always to find as much stuff out of the way in the spring so that a minimum of birding time can be spent away from Tiscornia in the fall when there's greater rarity potential (not that I didn't probably have a distant Black-tailed Gull a couple weeks ago).

It took an hour and a half of walking though the Sarett pines with my head cricked back before I found a Long-eared; owls and geese are among the earliest migrants though this bird could have wintered. This was at least my 4th trip into the pines this year though.
Speaking of geese, we've had some decent SW winds in the last few weeks which makes it a lot easier to find White-fronted and Ross's types.

Three Ross's types have been seen at a farm pond along Buffalo Road. Ross's are no longer a review bird in Michigan fortunately. I wrote a post a few years ago showing a range of birds and how they were viewed by the committee. I think these would be accepted if this was back then. What they actually are, may be another matter. Personally I think all eastern Ross's have at least some Snow in them given the massive population expansion Ross's underwent at a time when Snow Geese were moving into new areas both on the wintering grounds and in the arctic. That's not to say they're not Ross's Geese, I just believe that what a Ross's Goose is has changed. The other post reviews the literature I was able to pull off SORA regarding this.

I was somewhat lucky that I was delayed in being able to chase the Ross's Geese. Had I gone first thing in the morning I wouldn't have heard about these Cackling Geese in a holding pond in Sodus from another birder. There's another similarly sized group out of the frame. Note the vertical foreheads, stubby bills, and smaller size than the Canada Goose in the foreground. In life they were also slighly grayer than the Canada, but that doesn't come out that well in this distant backlit pic.
The other advantage of driving after these Cacklers was that a Mockingbird perched up in a fruit tree on the way back.

Finally a distant through-the-fence shot of 3 White-fronts at 3 Oaks.

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