Monday, November 24, 2008

Lifer or not? The trouble with wildfowl...

I see there is a Snow Goose loitering around the south east of the county. I could do with that, if it was wild.

Snow Goose is the commonest bird on the British list that I have not seen, or should I say, not added to my list. This is because I've seen a good few over the years but none fits MY criteria to be added. I mean, after all, we can only police ourselves in these matters, because no one else really gives a monkeys.

I've seen two at Holywell in years gone by and best of all I had 5 ( or was it 6?) flying south over Amble one year. No good to me I'm afraid. None of them seemed 'right' if you know what I mean. Either the timing was wrong or they were with the wrong carrier species etc etc.

Some might say that they could have been wild and they'd have been right. They could have been. But the evidence just doesn't amount to enough to push me one nearer to the 400 mark. If there's one thing I am obsessive about its keeping my totals clean.

So how would I judge a Snow Goose. What would give it the qualifications to be deemed a genuine vagrant by me?

For a start it must not be wearing a ring. It must be free flying and show no sign of captivity. ( All of those above fit that part). The timing should be right, ie arriving with either good weather patterns or over the autumn / winter / spring period.( The two Holywell and the recent bird fit there.) It should be with good carriers such as the hoards of Pinkfeet that arrive from Iceland each autumn. It should NOT just loaf around with feral species. This last one would not stop it being wild, but it would add a hint of doubt.

As Snow Geese are feral and free flying in parts of Britain and Europe I couldn't add a 'first' that hung around with Greylags especially when there are so many wild Pinkfeet around. Yes I know the Greylags could be from Iceland too, but its all down to the balance of probabilities.

Chances are this Snow Goose is wild, but not wild enough for me.

One day...

Now if it had been at Boulmer....oh don't go there!

9 comments:

Newton Stringer said...

I've seen a few too, but I only count the ones I've seen on Islay... 4 individuals on 3 different years....SMUG MODE...

All these mainland ones are well dodgy I reckon !! But of course I would say that now wouldn't I....;)

Seriously tho, have you been to Islay ? Amazing place and lots of funky geese to check out..... resonable chance of a "proper" rare goose of some sort up there most winters....

4 snow geese were about near Holy Island recently.... I gather these are feral tho ?

Farnes said...

Hi Chaps, just new to this blogging business. However likewise here, only count those on Islay as the rest down east coast are very dubious (and yes even seen them on my beloved Farnes, but don't count them). I wonder how many people have got them on their County lists... keep up the great blogs - just developing one for the Farne Islands (its called 'Farnes Photo of the Day' at this moment (it'll improve next spring) Cheers. David Steel, Farne Islands

DorsetDipper said...

A lot of these really wild birds have never seen humans and don't seem to mind them when they meet them (eg the Steppe Grey Shrike).

I think a lot of these plastic ducks could be wild. I tick them all just to be on the safe side.

Stewart said...

Gary -No I've not been to Islay but I'd like to....

David - Nice one I'll add you to the links....Otter on the Farnes!
Whatever next...

Dorset - Hello there long time no see. Yes I know what you mean about tameness but that isn't in my equation. Its just that the sheer number of fence hopping ducks and geese make things problematic. I think if we look at the individual bird and consider a few details an educated guess can be made whether your concience can take it. Then again as I said earlier, nobody really cares, its all a game :)

Birding Sometimes said...

I'd err on the side of caution. It is however on my West Hartford list (!! - no stanards at WH) It will be interesting to see where this gets placed by the CRC.

Newton Stringer said...

Hi Stewart

I you're interested I'd consider a group trip to Islay sometime, 4 people in a car for a long weekend is usually reasonable in price.... The golf course has SC bungalows going cheap in the winter months too..

Superb birding, totally amazing numbers of geese, plenty of other wildfowl including lotsa sea ducks, good raptors, choughs, white winged gulls etc...

8)

abbey meadows said...

I have seen a few dodgy Snow geese as well and don't have it on my list. I have seen one on Islay in Port Ellen harbour feeding on chips.

Stewart said...

John - You lot'll tick owt! :)

Gary - That is a good idea I'd be up for that sometime, maybe next winter...

Nige - Now thats put the blockers on an Islay trip! I cant even tick the Snow Geese on Islay :(

Ian said...

Anyone know which race of snow goose is likely to be wild if it turns up? The Holywell bird appears to be a Lesser SG. Greater SG occurs down the east side of the states and is the one that occurs on Bermuda (where there has just been a Ross's Goose!).

Cheers

I.