Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Fantastic day with the Scottish Bean Geese

Where to begin? Well yet again the goal of the day was to localise the Bean Geese, count them and read as many rings as possible. Once this was in the bag I would then see what other migrants I could find. Yesterday had been very windy but today it was still and there wasn't a cloud in sight.

I checked a few favoured fields from previous years for the geese without joy and then headed towards the river. Instead of viewing distantly from Udenes Church I decided to walk down to the river as this would allow me to read off neck collars if they were there. As I approached through woodland I saw that they were on the sandbank. Using the cover of the trees I was able to get down to the river bank and was able to watch the geese at a little over 100m range without them being aware of me. Today there were 143 birds so a tripling from Monday. For an hour they mostly slept making it difficult to see rings but eventually I reckoned I had seen all of the marked birds. I had the 5 birds I had identified on Monday plus 7 new ones. The birds I had were:

6X & 6Z – a pair
7V & 3Y – a pair
06 (blue right)
07 (black left)
04 (yellow left)
In addition there was a bird with just a metal ring on its right leg so this is presumably a bird that has lost its inscribed collar.

After an hour there begun to be some movement among the birds with a small group flying off towards the field they had used on Monday. The others though started swimming towards me! They were making their way towards the shore and eventually some birds passed less than 10 metres from me and a pair even started feeding on the shore in front of me completely oblivious to me although the sound of the camera shutter did get their attention. These are truly wild geese and normally spook at way over 100 metres so to have them so close was truly breathtaking - I could even here what sounded like wheezy breathing from one bird.

After 2 hours I decided to leave but try as I might the birds noticed me. They flew on masse towards Monday’s field and 30 minutes later when I drove past the whole flock was feeding happily together in what would appear to be this year’s new favoured field although quite what makes this field different to all the rest only the birds can explain. There are still a couple of  ringed birds that have yet to turn up which were seen last week in Denmark so I reckon the flock will continue to grow a bit over the next week.

I was extremely happy with my close encounter of the goose kind and continued east into Aurskog-Høland with hopes of more new arrivals. And I wasn't to be disappointed. 3 Cranes (trane) and 3 Golden Plovers (heilo) were the first county records of the year and my earliest ever. There were no new wildfowl though even though there is plenty of flooding. Passerine migrants are non-existent except for the now omnipresent Skylarks and raptors have yet to make it this far north so there is still plenty to look forward to.

Two Taiga Bean Geese although in this pose they could pass for Tundra

6S - ringed in Scotland in October 2011 and a regular in Akershus since

on the sandbank

"04" a bird with a transmitter and identified by the yellow left ring

the flock feeding along the shoreline

feeding on the new favoured stubble field

first Crane of the year

and also the first Golden Plover

plus a Lapwing (vipe)

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