Thursday, October 6, 2011

Cackling, Barnacle and Greater White-fronted Geese at Collins Pond

Its been a busy week at Collins Pond in Caribou.  The Canada Goose flock has been growing steadily since the middle of last month and we were overdue for something unusual it seemed.

This week the unusual started to arrive with a Cackling Goose on Sunday the 2nd.  The Cackler is a miniature version of the Canada Goose and a bit hard to spot in a flock of 3000+ geese.  Most pronounced to my eye is the silvery cast to their back and wing (mantle) plumage. This seems to stand out among the brown backs of Canadas and is often visible with just a quick scan of a flock. Other pertinent identifying characters include the short neck, stubby bill, steep forehead and of course the slightly-larger-than-a-Mallard body size.  Heres a digi-scoped photo of Sunday's Cackling Goose.

One Tuesday the 4th, an early morning check of Collins Pond produced no sign of the Cackling Goose.  The birds were busy moving about the pond and were departing for the nearby fields to feed  in 10's and 20's.   As the flocks thinned out, the pink bill of a Greater White-fronted Goose became evident.  I forgot my camera that morning but returned on Wednesday and was able to get a few marginal digi-scoped images of the bird.

Later that morning a group of Aroostook Birders returned to the pond to watch the spectacle of several thousand Canada Geese coming back from the fields to roost.  Even by 10 AM there were some geese in the pond. Among them was a Barnacle Goose!  Rarest by far of the rare geese visiting Collins Pond, this European vagrant only gets as close a Greenland in its regular travels.  Luckily Paul Cyr was among the birders at the pond that day and Paul was able to get these nice pics of the bird despite the 30 mile-an-hour winds.

Cant wait to see how long these geese will stay and what else arrives!


Stu Tingley said...

Great collection of geese and nice documentation of the rarities!

grammie g said...

Hi Bill...Amazing I would never have seen the difference if I was looking and a flock !!
Very interesting ...I was visiting in Houlton this past weekend and saw a hugh flock of what I would say Canadian geese,now I will have to check out my photo's!! : }}
Thanks for the update!

pschep said...

We saw the Barnacle Goose this afternoon. A big thank you to the couple from Ohio, who took a detour from their trip to MA to head up to our little Collins Pond to see the sight. Hope they get a chance to post as they were the ones to help us spot it!

jerry lee said...

the same Ohio couple pointed the barnacle goose out to my wife and i as we arrived for a bicycle ride around the park in caribou. we were able to take some very nice photos of the bird and others. I only regret not getting their names to credit for the experiance and pictures.

Warren Leow said...

Hey Bill: thanks for posting your sighting on NARBA, as that is what got us (the couple from Ohio) to Caribou in search of the barnacle goose. It was the highlight of our vacation. Meeting you before we ever saw the goose was a hoot! Thanks so much for your Maine DeLorme, it saved us hours of searching for birding spots.
Karen and I had never experienced anything like the 1000+ canada geese honking and careening and tumbling onto Collins Pond simultaneously that Saturday morning. It took no time for us to realize why everyone had taken shelter at that moment ... ahem.
Within five minutes of the arrival, Karen spotted the barnacle goose on the water. She couldn't contain herself. It was such a pleasure to share the sighting with so many interested and friendly people. You all have a great community.
Gratefully, Warren and Karen Leow