A Tale of Two Geese.

Field sketch of juvenile Pink-footed Goose by WSM, 19.10.01.

Above a sketch from 2001 of a juvenile Pink-footed Goose present on No 1 tank. The head shape and bill initially recalled Bean Goose, until it stood up and revealed some fetching pink-legs. Notes on this bird featured below by Tony Broome.

The bird from the 13.10.12 (see images for this bird on the posting for that date) had similarities to this bird with a large head and Roman nose bill shape. Although the photograph does not feature enough details, it does show the head and bill shape. When the goose stood up the legs were pinkish and not the orange colour of Bean Goose. Additionally, the back colour recalled the paler grey/brown of Pink-footed and not the darker colour you would expect for Bean. Structurally the bird’s head shape/bill, orangish stripe on the distal third of bill, thick-set neck, and longish legs were potentials for Bean Goose.

Below notes from a bird that shadowed this bird 11 years ago. Eds

Friday 19th October 2001 – A day that promised much.

Frodsham Marsh birdlog reported a goose for three days as a Bean Goose. It was on No1 tank and gave adequate views to birders. However, it soon became clear that the goose was in actual fact a juvenile Pink-footed Goose. My notes were as follows.

Head shape-wise it did indeed resemble a Bean with a flat crown, long sloping forehead which went straight into the bill, which gave it a wedged-shape appearance. The bill itself was slightly convex over big oval nostrils and was all dark except for a narrow pale-coloured band near the tip. The legs were longish and definitely more pink than orange, despite a desperate attempt to make them the latter. It had a dull brown head, darkest on the crown, the dark colour extending as a dark line down the back of the neck. The head and neck were the darkest part of the goose. Neck relatively short like ‘rossicus’ Bean but waisted, not thick-set like that species. Looked thinner still when stretched up in alarm and without adult neck ‘grooves’. The dull overall colouring of the front of the neck merged into a similarly dull uniform brownish breast and flanks with no contrastively dark flanks. The undertail coverts  were dirty white.

The upperwing coverts were all grey based and small neat dark centres and buff tips and looked very brown at times. The lower, larger feathers had centres that were almost anchor-shaped. All feathers had thin pale tips, the greater coverts were slightly greyer with thin white tips forming a line. Tertials dark brown, edged and tipped paler, narrowly but obvious.  Primaries dark grey brown which ended just past the tail tip.  At rest, the dark tail had a broad white tip and thin white sides. In flight the obvious white tail base was visible. On the open wing,  the palest part of the wing was the leading edge which contrasted with the browner and darker overall colour of the rest of the coverts.

The bird flew towards the Weaver at one point and at once looked more Pink-foot.  Forewings very obviously pale grey, the tail with a broad white tip and sides and the rump/uppertail coverts were grey, not brown.  No call were heard.

With hindsight and familiarity, and much more information from a myriad of sources, this bird was obviously a dull juvenile Pink-foot. The brown upper wings, lack of neck lines and contrasting dark flanks and overall dull bill would support the ageing. But it was a very interesting and educational lesson at the time.

Tony Broome