Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Red breasted Goose etc.

 So, September ended with a big dip. Oh well, its one of those things. How would October fare...

Sunday 1st October was a lovely fine autumn day here. Dawning quite cool but warming up later on.

John and myself took a trip up to Elwick on the Lindisfarne Reserve to look for the Red breasted Goose that has been hanging around with the large geese flocks for a few days.

We wandered up the track knowing from experience that the geese here are usually quite mobile and as we arrived at the end, this was certainly the case. Flock after flock of Barnacle Geese were leaving a distant field to our right and flying across our vision to land, unseen in a field, two to our left. Each flock was scrutinised in nice morning light as they passed, without luck. 

The view we had as geese flocks flew left at the end of this field. Holy Island lies beyond the flats.

We decided to try to get a view of the geese over to the left so we stalked close to the hedge, into a dip, to peer into the next field. The ground was wallpapered in Black and White. A 'magic-eye' illusion of Barnacle Geese greeted us with birds still arriving. The problem was, we were too close. We stopped, scarcely daring to breathe and quietly scanned through. No joy. We waited. In the distance from Holy Island causeway I saw another few hundred geese strung out in the air heading our way. As they whiffled down to the ground we had another scan. There, only about 100 mrs away, right on the front in full sunshine a stunning adult Red breasted Goose, probably the first with good credentials since the 1800s in Northumberland. It had arrived with a small flock of Brents from high to the east originally before moving in with the Barnacle Geese to feed. What a belter, and I had left my camera in the car thinking the geese would be too far off.

As it happened, that was irrelevant. No sooner had we seen the target, a farmer on a quad drove straight into the field putting 3000+ geese to flight right over our heads. The sound was incredible. I've seen lots of goose flocks into many many thousands across the UK but have never experienced such noise from wings and voice only 50 feet above me. It was truly awesome.

As we watched the mass head back to the fields they originally came from, we scanned and scanned but couldn't pick up the Red breast. It was here a twist occurred. As we looked, I noticed an Egret coming off the flats towards us mobbed by crows. I couldn't say I'd seen that before, so I just put the scope on them. The Egret had a bright crocus yellow carrot pushed into its mush - it was a Cattle Egret! This was only my 2nd in the county and my first self found. These may be tame fare on the Avalon Marshes but up here they're still hens teeth.  We watched as the Cattle Egret lowered its undercarriage and glided over a hedge appearing to land unseen. We went to investigate.

From our new vantage point, we never did see the Egret again but we could see the geese. It took about half a dozen scans before the Red breasted Goose was picked out. Now at comfortable distance we could scope it feeding with Barnacles and showing how such a colourful harlequin could be camouflaged in the monochrome sea of wildfowl.

Two great county birds UTB by breakfast, excellent.

A stop at Budle Bay for our tea and snacks had a lot of birds but just the usuals. Highlight was probably 35 Shovelers.

On to Monk's House Pool of Ennion fame where there had been an American Golden Plover. Unfortunately most of the flock had departed leaving only 115 Eurasian Goldies to scan through.

Still not a bad day, RBG is no 363 on my county list and only my 2nd ever. 

Cattle Egret field notes.

Red breasted Goose field Notes

A worked up version of the Red breasted Goose back home.


derek said...

Love the rbg. Well done. It remains on my bucket list as Northern Ireland is not currently receiving visits!!

Stewart said...

Cheers Derek, one day you'll get one with those Brents...