Monday, 16 November 2015


Clearly a white-fronted goose.
There was a family party of white-fronted geese in with the greylags at Aldcliffe today. They were feeding in the flood-expanded wet area between the Wildfowlers' Pools and Reedy Corner and when I first spotted one of the aduits it appeared distinctly pink-billed.
As European birds albifrons are the least common of the two races in this part of the world (the other being flavirostris from Greenland) I was rather pleased!

One bill looks pink, the other orange...
I took a couple of distant record shots and moved to get slightly closer.
Now as I looked I noticed that the three 1st winter birds had bright orange bills. Looking again at the adults it was frankly hard to tell what colour their beaks were...
As the light changed, so did the bare-part colouration and I took a few more snaps to see if that would help me get to grips with the true identity of these birds.

Now they all look orange.
Looking at the structure of the bill and the amount of black on the bellies of the adults I'd be inclined toward Greenland, especially as the young birds appear to be so orange-billed.
But, it just goes to show that light conditions can really play with colour perception in the field.
And even in the same light, colour can vary between individuals; as you can see in one of the pics here, one bird appears orange-billed while the other looks to be pink-billed.
Is one adult bird flavirostris and the other albifrons? That seems most unlikely... but not impossible.

I suppose if I'd had my 'scope with me I might have been able to determine the race of the birds much easier as I'd expect a closer look at the bills would allow clearer definition of colour.

...but these appear decidedly pink!

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