Wednesday, 19 October 2011

If you're totally fed up with reading about mega sibe chats and how spawny some people are to find them/receive early news about them/eat them (if cats count) then you've come to the right place I promise you you'll be back to the Punkbirder website before you've got to the end of the second paragraph of this shite!!!

Many people are getting themselves in a bit of a twist over the Red breasted Goose at Scaling dam, look (Lawts) it's fuckin dodgy innit.  The only reason the birders up there are giving it a second look is they've had fuck all else all autumn. do yourselves a favour and don't waste the petrol money.

What you should probably do though is go to Hornsea and look at a goose with (probably) much better credentials for being wild. First indulge me while I give you a bit of background.

For a long time now 15+ years in fact there has been a flock of Barnacles at Hornsea in the winter usually numbering between 100 and 200 birds.  They were always thought to be feral birds that come from Flamingoland, in recent years some have suggested they come from Whitton Sands.  Wherever they come from they turn up at the right time of year and aren't too tardy about fucking off either.  They always remain separate from the feral Greylags and Canada's on site and are wary and flush very easily, I know this because I've been trying to photograph them.

Anyone still here or has Punkbirder crashed under the weight of hits?  Just in case Lawts is still reading I'll continue.  In recent years a few people have been questioning the supposition that they were feral and a couple of winters ago Roy Lyon saw a bird with a colour ring.  His pics and views were insufficient to read the number on it but it intrigued Mark Robinson enough that he spent time trying to record it, bingo when the number was sent off to the BTO it came back with the news it had been ringed as a nestling in Spitzbergen.

So that means at least some of the birds at Hornsea in the winter are tickable.  The normal migration route for these spitzbergen birds is to come down the east coast to Northumberland and hang a right to the Solway but every year some overshoot and records come from many sites on the Yorks coast.  It appears some of them are staying to winter.

Right that's the history of Barnacles covered.  Now we know some of the Hornsea birds are genuine it's not too far fetched to realise they could carry other stuff with them, like vagrant Canada Geese.  And it appears they may have done just that, in fact they might have been doing that for the last 2 winters as well but it's just not been deemed worthy news by those that have seen it, understandably really it's a goose afterall.

Now I have to confess that until a week ago I knew fuck all about vagrant Canada Geese except that I once found a minima type at the Swan feeding point at Fairburn and it was the same size as a Mallard!!!  One week down the line I still know very little, in fact if you read Chris Batty's article in Birding world from 2001 and Martin Garners book of revelations then you'll know as much as I do.  Actually that's not quite true you'll know as much about Canada Geese though.

The Bird at Hornsea would going on Chris' 2001 article be a parvipes but for the dark line running under the chin and which should make it a taverni but the bill seems too long.  But nealry ten years on is this arrangement still valid?  Martin would suggest otherwise if I'm reading his article correctly.  It seems now that there are many more races than was considered ten years ago and many of the British records which seem not quite right for one race or another more easily fit into some of these new races.  The trouble is it's all a work in progress and I certainly don't have any answers yet.

All I know is the Hornsea bird appears to be a small Canada,Martin would label it an intermediate bird in his simplified 3 types. I have only seen it with the Barnacles but called it a small race bird on structure in flight when it's short neck is very apparent.  On the deck it's a bit more subtle with a long body making it look substantially bigger than the accompanying Barnacles but it's neck still looks short.  Funnily enough the pics perhaps make it seem larger than in the field when it's often overlooked on a first scan of the flock whilst feeding  Last winter during the cold snap a few feral Canada's where in the same field as the Barnacles and a couple of the other lads made a size comparison when they described it as fuckin tiny, elaborating further when pushed they said the normal Canada's dwarfed it.  In the pics it does look a little on the large side so the spectre of it being a hybrid between a normal feral Canada and one of the small races can't be ruled out but I'll bet with more research it fits one of the new races quite nicely.

I'll be trying to get better pics in the next few days when the wind drops, these are all with my mobile.  When I get some I'll be sending them to people who know more than me for comment.   In the meantime it's make your mind up time if you want to travel for it.

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