What a great fall it has been for rare geese in the central Aroostook area! Canada Geese are thinning out now, but numbers peaked in mid-October with more than 30,000 geese staging locally to fatten up on waste grain, grass sprouts and potatoes.
In addition to our usual hordes of Canada Geese, we had the pleasure of spotting SIX other species of geese over the past month and a half:
Snow Geese- It’s been a light year with some early reports starting in mid-September and several single Snows reported in Limestone and Caribou in early Oct. A few small flocks were seen in the middle of the month. No “Blue” phase Snow Geese were reported this year.
Cackling Goose- Rare but regular most years…Only a couple of these mini-sized Canada Goose imitators were seen this fall. One was reported at Long Lake in mid October, another one was photographed in the mill pond at Limestone on the 21st of October and yet another was seen at Christina Reservoir on November 6th.
Greater White-fronted Goose- Bob Carns in Portage Lake reported one in early November on the Fox Hill Road. Another was reported in October from the Grand Isle area. The Portage Lake bird was a member of the Greenland subspecies with a bright orange bill and legs.
Barnacle Goose- Tanya Byrum spotted a Barnacle Goose in the mill pond in downtown Limestone on October 29th. She was able to snap a couple pictures of the before the bird departed. It was not seen again. A European species, Barnacle Geese have only visited northern Maine on two other occasions.
Ross’s Goose- Aroostook County’s first ever Ross’s Goose spent a week at the mill pond in downtown Limestone from the 29th of September through the 5th of October. This miniature version of the Snow Goose was easy to observe and many area birders were able to enjoy the bird as it loafed and bathed with the Canada Geese.
Pink-footed Goose- In a season of standout rare geese, this was the star. This very rare species has only been ever seen in Maine a handful of times and the adult bird found at Collins Pond by the Aroostook Birders was another first-ever for Aroostook County! Seen only on October 19th, this one-day wonder apparently moved on quickly. We were lucky to see it on our Wild Goose Chase outing!
Other odd geese- there were a few other strange ones seen this season. “GL9” a Canada Goose banded in Greenland in July 2009 was at the Limestone pond on 3 October.
Also at Limestone, an apparent Canada Goose/Swan Goose hybrid was seen on the 29th of September-the same day as the Ross’s Goose.
Lastly, also at Limestone, Tanya Byrum photographed a couple hazy gray geese in early November that were apparently leucistic Canada Geese .
Definitely a goose watchers season to remember!