20th October 2010 – A nasty surprise amongst the Rockcliffe Barnies…

Intrigued by yesterdays horribly distant views of a goose resembling the reported blue-morph Snow Goose, I was keen to try and get better views. I was also aware that a hybrid goose had been at nearby Caerlaverock until recently that had first thought to have been a Lesser Snow Goose. So with excellent visibility early this morning I trudged all the way out onto the very edge of Burgh Marsh – flushing a Green Sandpiper from a ditch on the way. At the edge of the river I obtained reasonably close views of thousands of Barnacle Geese grazing on Rockcliffe Marsh and on the mudflats. The Ross’s Goose soon gave itself up, and after a bit of searching I saw the strange goose I’d seen yesterday. With good views I could see that this was not a blue-morph Snow Goose, it was clearly the same bird that had been photographed at Cearlaverock, quite what it is though I’m not sure, some sort of horrible hybrid. I spent nearly three hours observing the geese hoping to see another ‘Snow Goose type’  just in case the two-bird theory was in play. The best I could find was a Pale-bellied Brent Goose, a handful of Pinkfeet and at least four leucistic Barnies as well as the adult Ross’s Goose. Eleven Whooper Swans sailed past on the incoming tide and loads of Fieldfares were along the hedgerows . Despite the disappointment of not seeing blue-morph Lesser Snow Goose it was a fantastic morning, the sight and sound of several thousand Barnies taking to the air is surely one of the best spectacles in birding, and all just a walk away from home. Nice.

Doing it’s best to hide


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