Saturday, November 27, 2010

Barnacle Goose...Just Barely...

Barnacle Goose - note that there is no vehicle on the road.
Following my Saturday walk at Van Courtlandt Park, I headed to Orchard Beach in the Bronx to look for the Barnacle Goose that was found and reported by birder Keith Michael. As I neared the location I picked up a message that the bird was seen that morning in fact only minutes before my arrival. As I made the turn around before the park I quickly scanned the flock of Canada Geese that were feeding/loafing on the grass, but did not stop since I would impede traffic and I also did not want to scare off the birds. I entered the parking area, drove to the west end, parked, grabbed my scope and other gear and trekked over to the area where the bird was reportedly seen.

I quickly scanned the nearest flock of Geese, but did not see the Barnacle Goose, so I continued walking west then turned right to get the sun behind me and began scoping the flock near the turn around. It took one sweep and I was on the bird. I wanted a documentation shot, so I digiscoped the bird and then moved in a little closer to study and record the bands that were visible. (note: that the first digiscoped shot of the Barnacle Goose does not show any automobiles on the road - this is important and you will understand why as you read on).

Note the parked vehicle in the road and the reaction of the Geese - they are alert.
As I began to move in, I saw one, then two vehicles slowing down near the turn around. I put my bins up and saw that they were a couple of guys with cameras. Nothing wrong with that, but they were too close to the birds. I began to get anxious as I noticed that the flock of Canada Geese were starting to get nervous. My heart sunk, "I was not going to get to read the bands", was the message that flashed across my mind. I quickly threw the idea out that I was going to have time to read the bands and switched from digiscoping to my hand hold lens.

Vehicle no longer there as the car backed up note the direction the flock is taking.
If this bird decided to take flight I wanted to be ready. It was not a moment too soon. Both individuals realizing that they did not have the light in their favor backed up their vehicles and tried to get on the west side of the bird. That maneuver did it. The Barnacle Goose began to move and flap its wings it was going to leave. I just tried to get my lens on that bird and fired away, hoping that I was going to get something that would capture the bands. The bird did fly away and did not return. I searched the area for about 45 minutes, then left and returned putting in another hour, but I did not relocate the bird. Oh and yes, the two individuals did came over to apologize, which I accepted. What is one to say? Hopefully, they might have learned something from their actions.

Barnacle Goose lifting off  - the band on the left leg seem to indicate VUB.

Barnacle Goose in flight.

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MikeyBoy50 said...

Nice set Andrew
I have never seen that on before
Thanks for sharing

Deborah Kral said...

Wish I had known about this bird, passed by Orchard Beach that morning en route to a photo shoot. Birding Dude, from your images the bird appears to be flying toward the road and away from you (?) which would give me the impression the car did not spook it, but possibly your presence did? People drive very close to those flocks of Canada Geese all the time. Luckily there were other local birders that got excellent documentation images and those bands have helped with the bird's id. That is exciting!


@MikeyBoy50 - thanks, hope you see one soon.


@Deborah Kral, thanks for your comments - Please go back and look at the images and read the post again. You will see that the presence of the vehicles caused the birds to become alert. When both vehicles reversed to get on the west side of the birds, you will see them moving east to get away from the automobiles.

Using my scope meant that I was not on top of the birds like the automobiles were, but then again I thought my photos and post made that clear.

It's interesting you said that "People drive very close to those flocks of Canada Geese all the time." That was exactly the mistake they made - "assume."

Note that the Canada Geese were not the ones taking off, but the Barnacle was. So, yes, I am sure people drive up near the flocks, but those flocks did not include a Barnacle, which one did and it (the Barnacle) reacted quite differently to that.