26th February 2013 – The TODD’S CANADA GOOSE is back!

Back on the 27th October last year a Todd’s Canada Goose Branta canadensis interior was identified amongst newly arrived Barnacle Geese at Cardurnock – the first time this form had ever been seen in Cumbria.

https://solwaysandpiper.wordpress.com/2012/10/27/27th-october-2012-now-a-todds-canada-goose-on-the-solway-too/ 

Unfortunately though for Cumbrian birders it didn’t hang around and promptly moved on. Along with the Red-breasted Goose and Richardson’s Canada Goose Branta canadensis hutchinsii it was soon refound on the Scottish side of the Solway, and all three have remained there ever since – until now that is…

Encouraged by the vast numbers of geese I saw yesterday before I had to go to work, I vowed to return today on my day off. The number of Barnies and Pinks was truly immense, but also like yesterday most were just way too distant. I would have to play the waiting game, be patient, keep scanning and hope that eventually some of the geese would come within the range of my scope. Thankfully my patience paid off, and on my umpteenth scan I clapped eyes on this superb Todd’s Canada Goose Branta canadensis interior

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Apologies for the dodgy photos, but I was just pleased to get some record shots, the geese were never very close so anything was better than nothing.

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And a few flight shots too…

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This is a superb record for Cumbria, and it would seem logical to assume that this is the same bird that also wintered with Barnacle Geese in Dumfries & Galloway in 2011/2012. The photos below were taken at Loaningfoot in February 2012.

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Fairly dark upperparts, with some birds (like this one) also showing uniformly dark underparts.

Fairly dark upperparts, with some birds (like this one) also showing uniformly dark underparts. Note the long shallow bill.

Large, long-bodied goose with 'swan-like' neck.

Large, long-bodied goose with long ‘swan-like’ neck.

In western populations birds often show a dark line down the centre of the white throat.

Birds from the western populations of Todd’s Canada Goose often show a dark line down the centre of the white throat.

Compare the images of the Todd’s Canada Goose (above) to the Richardson’s Canada Goose (below) which appeared two days apart(!) on the Solway in October 2012. The differences are pretty obvious!

Similar sized to Barnacle Goose, with a short, thick neck. Note the steep forehead and flattened crown and small, 'Barnacle-like' bill.

Similar sized to Barnacle Goose, with a short, thick neck. Note the steep forehead and flattened crown and small, ‘Barnacle-like’ bill.

Contrasting pattern on upperparts feathers and obvious paler underparts with almost whitish breast.

Contrasting pattern on upperparts feathers and obvious paler underparts with almost whitish breast.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Red-breasted Goose was out there somewhere too, it doesn’t seem to have been reported from Loaningfoot for some time – and it was often in the same flock as the Todd’s, but with all the geese spread out on the marshes it really is a needle in a haystack jobby at the moment.

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Most of my time today was spent observing geese, but this is the best of the rest…

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And some photogenic Whooper’s close to the road…

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All in all a really enjoyable day, wall to wall sunshine and blue skies, and the spectacle of many thousands of geese taking to the air. Superb!

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One Response to 26th February 2013 – The TODD’S CANADA GOOSE is back!

  1. Neil scott says:

    You have the patience of a saint.
    We are going to Leighton moss this morning, hopefully see se interesting things down there

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