Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Bean Geese are back!

Today was my only chance this week to see if the Scottish Bean Geese (sædgås) have arrived back at their staging ground in Akershus which is one of the highlights of each spring. I had an appointment at the physio at 1030 so I was not going to have much time at my disposal but when I received an MMS from Stig Helge with a picture of a White-fronted Geese (tundragås) from the flooded fields by Kjelle School I found it might be an idea to see if I could change the time of my appointment. No problem so I was soon on my way out east to Aurskog-Høland. I didn’t go directly to Kjelle but drove as usual the valet past Haneborg and Haugrim. And what do you know. At the first flooded field I came to there was a flock of 20 Taiga (fabalis) Bean Geese! They were in exactly the same part of exactly the same field as I discovered the first birds last year on 27 Feb when there were 13 here plus 15 a few kilometres away (which joined up a few days later). Unfortunately this year, as last, none of the birds were ringed so it is not possible to tell if they are from the Scottish population but what is clear is that this is a preferred staging post for a sub group of a population and they arrive here earlier than at Udenes/Horgen. In addition to the records from this year and 2014 there were 15 nearby on 14 April 2009 and 19 on 13 April 2002 which suggest this area may have always been used. The later dates of the earlier observations matches the dates of records from the larger staging area at Udenes/Horgen which have also started appearing much earlier in recent years.

I checked out the Udenes/Horgen area later and found no birds here although a small flock of Whooper Swans (sangsvane) were on the fields and the sandbank is exposed on the river so everything looks ready for them. Last year first observation here was 7 March, in 2013 30 March (late) and 19 March in 2012 (already a large flock as may have been around a while).
So the day started off very excitingly! I also had Great Grey Shrike (varsler), Stock Dove (skogdue) and Snow Bunting (snøspurv) in the Haneborg/Haugrim area plus singing Skylarks (sanglerke) so the atmosphere was good! When I got to Kjelle School there were good numbers of Whooper Swans on the floodwaters but no White-front but a phone call from Sig informed he was watching it now a kilometre away. And 2 minutes later so was I. It was amongst a flock of Canada Geese and was a well-marked adult albifrons. I wonder if this was one of the 2 birds that accompanied the Bean Geese last year? The area around Kjelle is great for birds and is a welcome example (and rare in Norway) of active nature management. Stig teaches nature management at the school and they are actively working to improve the wetland for both passage and breeding birds –exciting stuff!

So spring migration has no officially started as far as I am concerned and will only keep on getting better although falling snow at times today did still give a wintery feel.
I had good numbers of Whooper Swans during the day with a number of flock feeding on stubble fields. The largest flock was 152 birds and in total I had 408 birds but unfortunately no Berwick’s (dvergsvane) amongst them.
Taiga Bean Geese with their characteristic long necks and long slender bills

adult White-fronted Goose

a number of Whooper Swans today were heavily stained. It might be possible to work out where they have been wintering

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