4th November 2013 – Red-breasted Goose – plastic or fantastic?

I was on a back shift today so when Nick phoned to tell me he’d just found a Red-breasted Goose I decided I had just enough time to see it before having to go to work. Thankfully when I arrived he was still watching the bird and I soon had it in my scope, I was a little disappointed it was so far away but nevertheless it looked a smart bird as it fed amongst a couple of thousand Barnacle Geese between Cardurnock and Bowness-on-Solway.

The geese were a long way away!! See the white specks above the hedge? That's the Barnies...

The geese were a long way away!! See the white specks above the hedge? That’s the Barnies…

There’d been a yellow-ringed Red-breasted Goose in Dumfries & Galloway about a month ago, first reported on the 27th September with Pink-footed Geese at Mersehead. But as this bird was with barnies it looked like the real deal to us, I think it was fair to assume that it was probably going to be the unringed bird that had wintered with barnies on the Solway in early 2012 (as a 1st winter), and then returned with barnies in  the winter of 2012/2013. Besides there was no way we’d be able to see a ring at this distance, it was hard enough to actually see the goose at times due to the lie of the land and the fact that it was often obscurred by loads of other barnies.

Even though it was hugely distant I thought I’d try to get some record shots of it, no matter how bad they’d be I always like to have a reminder for my own records. When I got home I began processing my photos, and for a start things looked promising…




But then I came across this one… 



 And these…




It looks like it has a yellow ring on it’s right leg, meaning this is presumably the bird seen earlier in D&G with pinks – what an absolute bummer! This really muddies the water actually, and raises several questions (to me anyway). Unless it’s seen well, how on earth are we going to tell whether the other (genuine) bird has returned? Or is this the ‘genuine’ bird and someone has put a yellow ring on it during the summer? Why has it left the pinks and joined the barnies? It’s all a bloody mess!! I mean this bird looks spot on at a distance as it mingles with thousands of barnies, it was only my crappy digiscoped shots that showed the ring. I guess that it just goes to show that no matter how crap they are, it’s always worth getting a photo. On flight views and ‘field’ views this bird might well have got past the rarities committee – which is scary. Any future sightings of Red-breasted Goose on the Solway this winter will no doubt be treated with caution and scepticism – which is real shame because they look superb amongst our Barnacle Geese… 

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One Response to 4th November 2013 – Red-breasted Goose – plastic or fantastic?

  1. Great stuff Darren and thanks for the post on my blog. We’ll have to check in Red-breast on the Solway carefully from now on and let’s hope a ‘blingless’ bird turns up soon!

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