Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cackling and Barnacle Geese and hybrids (Feb 23rd)

Despite rainy conditions I decided to go goose-watching in Jamesburg at Thompson park just south of town.  I located a few large Canada Goose flocks and was digging the scope out of the car when a local birder drove up and point me in the direction of a Barnacle Goose at the far end of the field.  I'd seen a report of a Barnacle and three hybrids in the NJ RBA and so it turned out: what he couldn't pick out in his binoculars but was clearer in the scope was that the Barnacle Goose was accompanied by three Barnacle X Canada/Cackling Geese hybrids, which looked rather Cackling-like in stature, but were grayer on the back and flanks and with Brant-like dark breasts.  A small amount of white above the eye that was separated from the white cheek also indicated mixed parentage.  I snapped a couple of bad pictures in bad light and heavy drizzle.

On the way out of the field my eye caught something a couple of 'scope scans had not: a Cackling Goose in one of the Canada flocks.  This one had the square head and even a little white collar at the bottom of the black neck sock.

Barnacle x Canada hybrids are center and right in this photograph and the parental influence is most clearly shown in this photo with the feather coloration and the extra white in the face.  More pictures on Flickr.  Upon reflection the goose at left is a likely Cackling Goose but the head profile is not "classical" Richardson's - it's approaching that of Lesser Canada - but there's a fair amount of gray in the feathers, suggesting Cackling.

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