Sunday, October 4, 2009

Four Greater White-fronted Geese in Fort Fairfield and ANOTHER Greenland marked Canada Goose

Friday started off well for me with another quick visit to Collin's Pond in Caribou. I was on my commute to work and thought I'd stop in and try again to relocate the two marked Canada Geese I spotted earlier in the week. I was trying to atone for my mis-read of the codes on the two neck collars of these by relocating them and rechecking the alpha codes.

I was surprised to find the pond still quite full of geese and expected they were soon to depart for a morning of feeding in the ag fields around Caribou. The birds were quite alert and fidgety and appeared ready to fly in any moment, so I made a quick cursory scan of the birds with my bins. Sure enough, there was a thick necked Canada on the far side of the pond with a yellow collar!

After a slightly embarrassing dash to my truck and subsequent wrestling match with my increasingly testy tripod I was able to zoom my spotting scope in on the bird. The view revealed the alpha code on this collar was GLS. This wasn't one of the two I'd seen earlier but yet another new marked Canada Goose! The fifth for this little pond this year.

The birds held in the pond a little longer and I was able to digiscope this picture for the record. I love the slick of feathers in the background...these geese are obviously still molting a bit.

Later on in the day I took a late lunch hour, with my coworker Jim, to patrol a few of the goosier day roosts that I had been neglecting. We had another good find. At Puddledock Pond in Fort Fairfield, we encountered the first Greater White-fronted Geese of the season in Maine. The four adult birds were contentedly swimming amongst about 70 Canada Geese and 50+ Hooded Mergansers. Again I set up the scope and had a good long look.

After Jim and I had a good session observing these rare geese, I reached for my camera and then realized I'd forgotten it and couldn't photograph them! White-fronts are still rare enough in Maine that all sightings should be documented if possible. I cursed my bad luck a bit and folded up my tripod and got in the truck to drive away.

Then a great stroke of GOOD luck occurred.... As I pulled from the parking area of the pond Paul Cyr came over the knoll in his big black Hummer! For those who don't know, Paul is the outdoor photographer extraordinaire who has provided about half of the bird photos for this blog. In my experience, the man rarely travels without a full assortment of cameras and gear....

After a quick chat with Paul about eagles and geese, he headed out to the pond. When I left the spot, I knew there would be a good photo of these birds for the record...and, of course, Paul didn't disappoint!

That evening, I sent my digiscope of GLS and Paul's great photo of the White-fronts to Tony Fox in Denmark and David Stroud in the UK and they quickly provided feedback on both:

Like most of the yellow-collared Canada Geese I've found, GLS was first captured and marked in Greenland in July 2008. Unlike most, this bird had not been relocated since that time.

As for the Fort Fairfield White-fronts, they confirmed that these birds appeared to be individuals of the Greenland subspecies of the White-fronted Goose.

As before, the updates on these birds and the others found at Collins Pond can be found at the White-fronted Goose project's website here:

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