Saturday, 31 December 2016

Two helpings of Christmas Goose

I'm not usually a Goose person - not even sure I like the taste of them ;-). However, two "goosey" ticks were up for grabs in north Norfolk this holiday season. Despite once unsuccessfully searching through the Barnacle flocks in Lissadell, Co. Sligo, I have never seen a bona fide wild Canada Goose. So the Todd's Canada Goose at Docking would be a lifer as would the Red-breasted Goose. In fact whatever chance I ever had of seeing a wild Canada Goose back in Ireland, Red-breasted Goose is not even on the Irish list (Correction - there is one category A record of an individual that was present from 26th October 1997 to 16th March 1998 on the North Slob, Co. Wexford).
It took two attempts to see them both. On the 27th December I managed to see the Todd's Canada Goose. It was distant though as this heavily cropped shot bears testimony to.

Todd's Canada Goose, Docking, Norfolk
To my surprise, I actually enjoyed scanning through the thousands of Pinks, picking out a few Tundra Beans, a juvenile White-fronted Goose and a Barnacle Goose. But the Red-breasted was nowhere to be seen and hadn't been reported since Christmas Day. I finished the day off with a quick jaunt over to Titchwell where I headed straight for beach and enjoyed views of Common Scoter, Goldeneye, Scaup and a few Velvet Scoters mixed in.

Velvet Scoters on the wing at Titchwell beach, 27 December 2016
On the 29th December, I toyed with the idea of driving to Derbyshire for the Dusky Thrush, but the A17 with a heavy frost didn't appeal. Plus would I rather spend seven hours driving and three hours birding or six hours birding and only two hours driving? Easy answer there! The Red-breasted Goose had been seen briefly on the evening of the 27th December so I thought, if I give it time and patience, I'll see it. And so that's what happened.
It took maybe two hours of scanning before it was pinned down. As far as geese go its a stunner, in fact as far as any bird species goes its a stunner. Beautiful brick red chest and overall very dapper looking in the winter sunshine. Well worth the effort and I even got a flight view as it commuted from one field to another.

Red-breasted Goose, Docking, Norfolk - 29th December 2016
Once the goose was in the bag - so to speak. I had a little fun photographing the Pinks. The sheer numbers are amazing. At one stage, courtesy of some gun totting, pheasant shooting numbskull - the whole lot got up. They settled in the next field on but the noise and numbers were impressive.

Pinks in flight

Then the whole lot got up!
Once again, I finished off the afternoon at Titchwell scanning the rafts of Scoters on the incoming tide.