Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Ringed Scottish Bean Geese in Akershus

What a day!  Some great birding and I have hopefully contributed with some useful scientific knowledge.
Rune needed Bewick’s Swan so our day began by the Glomma (after a flyover Peregrine along the motorway). Far fewer Whooper Swans today (just 130) but the 2 Bewick’s showed well (in the evening 3 Bewick’s were reported amongst 330 Whoopers). Also a small flock of Bean Geese here. We counted 23 on amongst the high stubble but when they flew off towards the river (where we later counted 142) there turned out to be 46! The Beans were close enough to see that they were Taiga (fabalis) but most exciting was that I could read the neck collars of 7 of the birds and solve yesterdays puzzle: where do they come from?
Due to the wonders of the web I was able to find out that the seven birds had been ringed in Scotland on 14 October 2011 (15 were ringed in total) and belong to the regular Scottish wintering flock (the only other regular wintering flock in the UK being that in the Yare Valley in Norfolk which has carried a Lesser White-fronted Goose the last 2 winters). So, my thoughts were correct, they are from the UK. This sighting is the first away from the Scottish wintering grounds and seems to be a very important sighting. Here is the response I received from the WWT:
Hello Simon

this is fantastic news ! Many thanks for this valuable sighting. These are the first sightings abroad of birds from this small Scottish wintering flock. We are slowly putting together the life story of these geese and the spring staging area is of of the unknowns - now discovered by you.

We caught 15 Bean Geese in Scotland in October, and I hope that the other 8 collared geese are alive and well - and possibly also in Norway.

I attach details of the geese that you have seen. Please let me know if the details are OK.

Please keep me informed of any further sightings (even daily records are valuable for recording how long the geese stay in the spring staging area).

We think that the last sightings of Bean Geese in Scotland was on about 25th February, however, the seven collars you saw were last seen in Scotland in December - do you know when the first Bean Geese arrived on the Glomma River?

Can you also pass on this news to other local birdwatchers and goose enthusiasts who may be able to look out for these collars and the others.

Great news Simon !

Thanks again

Carl Mitchell
Here is a picture of one of the birds I saw “4Z” and I picture Carl sent me when he was ringed!
Taiga Bean Goose "4Z" in the field, Horgen, Norway 20.03.2012

Taiga Bean Goose "4Z" in the hand, Slamannan, Scotland 14.10.2011

Also a few other pictures from Horgen.
Some of the Beans taking off, with the 2 Bewicks underneath

Some of the Beans heading for their roost on the Glomma

1 Bewick, 2 Whoopers

We spent some time searching along the Glomma but failed to turn up any large concentrations with just a handful more Whooper Swans and a pair of Cranes.
At various sites in Aurskog-Høland we notched up more Whooper Swans, 3 Cranes and Canada and Greylag Geese plus a single Great Grey Shrike. Moving to Kallaksjøen in Østfold we had another 250 Whooper Swans, at least 9 Cranes, a singing Great Grey Shrike (what an usual song!), a couple of Buzzards and a new flock of 13 Bean Geese which appeared to all be fabalis.

During the course of the day we saw a massive 920 Whooper Swans, 2 Bewick’s and just a single Mute!! Geese were represented by 156 Bean Geese, 257 Canada Geese and 203 Greylag Geese. Ducks however were very few and far between with less than 150 Mallard, 2 Teal, a handful of Goldeneye and a single Goosander.
Some more pictures from a good day out:
13 Bean Geese (seemingly all fabalis - tundra) and a Greylag at Kallaksjøen, Østfold
Crane, Kallaksjøen

Whooper Swans

Bees attracted to the Hestehov flower

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