Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Sobering experience

I spent too much of the morning babysitting an electrician and by the time I got out of the house it was far too hot. Raptors are about the best one can hope for in this type of weather but there was hardly a cloud to see in Maridalen which makes picking up any high fliers that much more difficult.

And difficult it was. Around noon I did have 3 Ospreys (fiskeørn): one was a very distant bird performing its bounding areal display over a distant forest with a fish in its claws. I did not see this bird attract another bird and wonder the purpose of this display.

The day did provide me with a real birding a-ha moment. I saw goose flying low across the lake and was struck by how dark it was. I saw it in the scope and was in little doubt that it was yesterdays Bean Goose (sædgås). It flew into Nesbukta and I drove over there hoping to get some good pictures of it. I walked down to the water and it flew up from the waters edge where it had bbeen resting unseen to me and landed not too far out. Although it was horrible strong midday light I was still in little doubt that this was a Bean Goose. It was dark on the head and back and the broad white edges to the mantle and tertial feathers all looked identical to the Taiga Bean Geese I know well. It also looked to be a large bird (although there were no other geese to compare it to) held its rear end high in the water which is something I associate with Bean Geese. The neck was fairly long but not quite what I would associate with a fabalis and the bill was also fairly long but yet again not quite fabalis so I thought I had a rossicus Bean Goose but one of the confusing types that are easily confused with fabalis. I then sat down and put the scope on it. What was this? The bill that had looked orangey in the bins was pink and the legs which I saw then it paddled were pink –this was a Pink-footed Goose (kortnebbgås)!!.

I was really taken aback by this and it reminded me of the importance of not relying on secondary ID features when bill and leg colour are key to identifying this potentially tricky species pair plus the importance of neutral light conditions in assessing colour. As a result of this experience I realised that I cannot count yesterday’s bird based on the views I had and my initial confidence that I was seeing the same bird today. Pink-footed Goose normally has a greyer back than this bird and gives the impression of being an overall paler bird but darker ones such as this do occur but I have never seen one quite like this.
first an undisputed ID - an Osprey with fish

Pink-footed Goose masquerading to my eyes as a Bean Goose

the light is of course atrocious but the bird looked this dark in he field

looking spookly beany and the bill colour is a strange pinky orange. The pink leg colour can just be glimpsed

the back colour is best represented by this picture

here the pink bill colour shows

my only flight shots were thwarted by a bush between me and the water but the upper wing can be seen to be unusually dark
leg colour can sort of be seen and is definitely more pink than orange. The tail is classic Pink-foot with a broad white rear edge

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