a blog about what interests me! birds, baskets, butterflies, moths, biking.............

Monday, March 28, 2011

Winter Geese in Vermont

 5 Canada geese, 2 mallards and 4 greater white-fronted geese.

    My birding friends and I have been going to Herrick's Cove in Rockingham almost every morning to see the migrating ducks and geese. There's always a good chance to see a rare or unusual bird but there's a better chance of missing it unless you camp out there 24/7. Too cold for that!
   As we were setting up our scopes, Don said, "this might be our last chance to see those white-fronteds". They had been spotted in the area but usually these rare birds don't stick around too long. As luck would have it, the four that were spotted days before, were right in front of us. Yippee!  
   close-up of the greater white-fronted geese
    In the US, this goose is common only west of the Mississippi.  According to all about birds "The Greater White-fronted Goose subspecies that breeds in Greenland usually winters in Ireland and Scotland. It occasionally turns up on the East Coast of North America. It is slightly larger than the typical American form, and has a brighter orange (less pink) bill, but telling them apart definitively is difficult."  

   Snow geese are another migrant who stop in Vermont on their way north. The typical Snow goose is white with black wing-tips but there is a dark form or morph, once considered a separate species, the Blue Goose. In the above picture, the smaller, darker goose is a juvenile blue morph, the other two are adult snow geese. In the next picture you can see the white this juvenile's head starting to fill in.
  An adult blue-morph snow goose will look like this adult (picture below), that Don Clark took at the flooded meadows in Springfield. (note the gray body and white head of the adult)

   There are also hybrid ducks and geese, some are wild/domestic mixes. We're not too sure what this one was that we found in Brattleboro swimming around with all the Canada geese.
Canada in the front and the hybrid (notice the orange bill and lots of white on head).
closer view of hybrid Canada.
   There are web sites devoted to hybrids that are fun to explore. Here's my favorite; gobirding.eu