Thursday, December 27, 2012

Wild Goose chases, either side of Xmas

A Pink-footed Goose at Assiscong Marsh found by Frank Sencher (possibly the Cushetunk Lake individual from earlier in Dec) had me braving the potential for bad mall traffic on the 24th - but I got through Flemington quite quickly and after 15 minutes of sorting through an infinite number of Canadas.  The early start was just as well - I saw the Pink-footed Goose at 7:20am, about 10 minutes before it decided to fly out of the marsh to go feed (it was re-found in a park nearby later on).  Good diagnostic looks, but I was hoping for pictures as well.  At least I managed to put the other birder present on the goose before it took off.  I've now seen Pink-footed in NY, NJ and PA.  Other waterfowl present included: American Black Duck, Mallard, Gadwall and Green-winged Teal.  A brief look around local roads didn't show any goose flocks but I didn't realize until later that there was a nearby park that I should have checked too.

On the 27th a report of a Barnacle Goose came up on JerseyBirds at Mercer Corporate Park found by Mary DeLia - this is just inside Mercer County near Allentown and within striking distance of where I was.  (This spot is also the Northern Lapwing location from this fall).  I'd seen Barnacle in NJ before (Califon) and Barnacle this year (NYC/Bronx) but the odds of getting another Barnacle Goose in Mercer Co seemed remote so I headed out to see it.  It had moved on to an adjacent field making for more obscured viewing but after a little walk up the hard shoulder I picked it out at the back of the Canada flock.  On the recent CBC there had been two Barnacles at Plainsboro Preserve and one at Lake Etra, so there are multiples here or hereabouts.

Both these birds are presumed Greenland-originated (although with Barnacle it's difficult to be certain), and increased numbers of both in the north-east are related to melting of the Greenland ice sheet due to global warming.  Nevertheless they remain some of the more prized winter geese by their scarcity.

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