11th January 2016 – Snow Goose on my dog walk…

I think I said in a previous post that I’d tried for the Snow Goose that’s wintering on the Solway a couple of times so far and both times I’d dipped it. Such is the fickle nature of these things. Trying to find a rare goose on the Solway – even a great big chuffin white one, can often be – well, a bit of a wild goose chase. They move around the area all the time and are regularly flushed and spooked and just as they seem to settle into a routine of being seen in the same area for a few days they bugger off, sometimes disappearing for days or even weeks. Anyway, I’d joked with the missus that we had just as much chance of seeing this Snow Goose on one of our dog walks. To be honest it was half joke, half hope, we’re always seeing barnies on our walks on the marshes so I knew that it was always an outside possibility….

For once this morning it was a beautiful and sunny start to the day, and after the boy was seen off on the school bus the missus and I drove the few minutes to Easton to begin our walk with the pooch on the marsh. As we were walking back towards the car a small group of barnies flew close past us heading low west, and right amongst them was the flippin’ Snow Goose! I’m used to seeing the leucistic barnies in with the geese on the Solway but this bird was so close that the black primaries and structure was obvious even with the naked eye. I watched them until they disappeared out of sight in the direction of Drumburgh and Glasson. We’ve seen some half decent bits n bobs on our dog walks now, nowt too special but things like Kingfisher, Green Sand, Short-eared Owl, Twite etc, but this was without doubt our best ‘dog-walking tick’ so far!

However I cursed the fact that I didn’t have my camera with me, the light was superb and they were so close that it would’ve been a wonderful opportunity to photograph it. I had an idea where it might land, but equally it might just have continued flying west towards the Campfield/Cardurnock area. I remember a few years back when a Red-breasted Goose was watched at Drumburgh before flying off west. Minutes later it was seen by another birder heading west over Campfield Marsh, before eventually being located grazing in a field at Cardurnock. I headed home and quickly grabbed my camera before heading back to Drumburgh. The area I suspected it might have landed in can’t be seen from any roads so a bit of local knowledge and experience certainly helped here. Walking around the corner towards Glasson Point I noticed some barnies on the marsh and bugger me there it was! Get in! The last thing I wanted to do now was flush them so I kept right in amongst the gorse and hedge to keep out of sight, if anyone had seen me lurking amongst the bushes they must’ve wondered what on earth I was up to!….

IMG_9884-copyBut it paid dividends and the birds continued to graze undisturbed…

IMG_9801-copyIMG_9765-copyIMG_9855-copyIMG_9900-copyIMG_9894-copyIMG_9885-copyIMG_9822-copyIMG_9886-copyIMG_9753-copyIMG_9876-copyIMG_9792-copyThey did however seem to be quite uncertain about a light aircraft that was flying around over the Solway – many a time I’ve been watching something good and either a microlight or low flying plane has spoiled the fun. This particular plane circled overhead but I think it was too high to cause them to fly off, even so they kept a very close eye on it…

IMG_9780-copyIMG_9882-copyIMG_9735-copyHappy with my encounter I decided to leave the bird in peace to feed, I certainly didn’t feel the need to purposefully flush it to get the flight shot…

As I wandered back to my car the plane reappeared but a bit lower than before and I wondered if this might cause them to fly off. I could soon hear flying barnies and just as I was nearing my car they came into view flying east along the edge of the marsh. I watched them until they were lost to view flying over the Solway towards the edge of Burgh Marsh/Rockcliffe Marsh.

IMG_9912-copyIMG_9915-copyIMG_9918-copyBirding always throws up surprises. Having specifically travelled to see this bird twice and failed it’s somewhat ironic that it flew over us on my local patch when I was least expecting it. I suppose I’ve gotta thank our mutley for this one, I’m certain I wouldn’t have seen it had we not been out taking him for a walk. Cheers Alfie.

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