27th October 2012 – Now a TODD’S CANADA GOOSE on the Solway too…

I know it seems unbelievable, but the vagrant Canada Goose with Barnacles at Cardurnock today was NOT the same bird that was at nearby Whitrigg on Thursday. When I went to see the ‘Richardson’s’ that other birders had relocated this morning, alarm bells rang. Obviously I was in the fortunate position of having seen the Richardson’s just two days ago…


This bird didn’t look like that at all. Birders were leaving happily ticking Richardson’s but I felt uneasy. To be fair the bird was largely obscurred but from what I could see it was totally wrong for hutchinsii. I discussed the bird with Ian and Ronnie from Kendal. We all agreed that today’s bird looked big, dark, and it’s neck seemed long. The larger size of this bird seemed to me to point towards Todd’s Canada Goose Branta canadensis interior. Also the bill on this bird was very long and shallow looking.  The white cheek patch was in fact ‘dusky’, and not white like the Richardson’s and it appeared to have a slight chin strap. When feeding it had a distinctive kink, or ‘s’ shape in the neck, and looked very awkward and ‘Swan-like’. In all respects it looked like the Todd’s I saw earlier in the year at Loaningfoot on the Scottish side of the Solway:


I phoned Chris Batty at Rare Bird Alert whilst watching the bird and explained that it was definitely a different bird to Thursdays Richardson’s and that it looked like a Todd’s. After hearing my description of it he put news out to that effect. If birders were still in the area then at least they had the option to return and take another look and make their own minds up! Chris has also seen my record shots and concurred with the identification of the bird as Todd’s. Up until 2 days ago Cumbria had never had ONE vagrant Canada Goose before, so to get a 2nd just two days after our first is truly incredible. Interestingly 4 Todd’s Canada Geese were seen yesterday on Islay with Barnacle Geese, and earlier in the month 5 birds were in Co. Clare, Ireland. These vagrant Canada Geese are a minefield though, and our knowledge of the forms which occur in Britain and Ireland is certainly in it’s infancy. There is still so much more to learn and enjoy. It would seem reasonable to assume that our bird today is the returning bird from last winter.

Poor record shot – but shows the bill size…

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