Goose Geekiness

I dropped Jane at her early gym class this morning, and for the first time it was light enough to do some birding rather than go home and wait. I headed for Skippool, where the many yachts in various states of repair and disrepair always look good on a sunny spring morning. There wasn’t a lot on the estuary but four Whooper Swans headed north and were a fine sight sailing over the sailing boats.

The light wasn’t great for viewing upriver so I decided to draw stumps and head for Little Singleton for a quick look at the river / estuary there. Plenty of Pink-footed Geese were on the saltmarsh. I didn’t have long but it didn’t take long to prove that there had been some new arrivals in the throng.

Firstly a couple of Barnacle Geese were present, the first presumably wild ones I have seen here this winter.

And then I picked out a Pink-footed Goose with an unfamiliar neck collar.

This is 35V, the way the sequence is arranged and the colour of the collar (white not silver grey) mean that this is a bird from the Svalbard population, rather than the Icelandic origin of the vast majority of the birds wintering in Britain.

Map borrowed from Wikipedia, this bird is from the green top right rather than top left and was actually caught and marked in Norway

You might say that a Pink-footed Goose is a Pink-footed Goose wherever it’s from, and with no recognised subspecies you’d be absolutely right. On the other hand it’s fascinating to see how two populations of the same species that were thought to be separate at all times of year (Svalbard birds winter in the Low Countries) do in fact mix and presumably there is some introgression between the two populations (if that’s the right word).

I said it was going to be geeky…

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