Friday 1 September 2017

Budleigh Goose Safari

This morning I intended to look for migrants but was somewhat distracted by geese of captive origin! At this time of year the Canada Goose flock often feeds in the stubble fields above the Otter and this morning a flock of 450+ birds were present. The main distraction this morning was finding a "small-bodied" Canada Goose in the flock, known as Cackling Goose. 

On size and plumage it is presumably a Ridgway's Cackling Goose, a Pacific species fairly common in captivity and complete with green ring! It is also the same bird seen by James Diamond on Exminster Marshes on the 18th June on the Exe and then by Matt Knott a few days ago flying over Orcombe. 

Also in the flock this morning were the Bar-headed Goose now back for it's 3rd autumn and two Greylag Geese.
Regardless of their origins, the Cackling Goose and Bar-headed Goose are both very smart looking birds!

The following subspecies of Cackling Goose are now recognised: hutchinsii (‘Richardson’s Cackling Goose’), minima (‘Ridgway’s Cackling Goose’), taverneri (‘Taverner’s Cackling Goose’) and leucopareia (‘Aleutian Cackling Goose’).

A great article on the Canada Geese by David Sibley HERE

Migrants today included:
10+ Wheatear
4+ White Wagtail
1 Yellow Wagtail - over
Meadow Pipit - 10+ over
1 Black-tailed Godwit on the estuary
Plus a small movement of Swallow & House Martin this evening and at least 1 Sand Martin.

The Cackling Goose was on the Otter Estuary this evening.....

Presumed Ridgway's Cackling Goose in with Canada Goose flock - Budleigh Salterton Top Fields

Presumed Ridgeway's Cackling Goose - Apart from the obviously small size, the short neck,
stubby bill and dark breast also suggest this subspecies

Presumed Ridgeway's Cackling Goose - The green colour ring sadly suggests captive origin

Cackling Goose illustrating the tiny size against Canada Geese

Bar-headed Goose - This bird has been associating with the flock for a week
or so now and is presumably the same bird present for the last two autumns 

Greylag Goose - one of two birds in the flock plus a feral White Goose in the background

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