Friday, 16 May 2014

The Mega Geese and the Hood

Taiga Bean Goose is a true mega.

Records in the midlands are so rare that even some 'true' national rarities have occurred on more occasions in our humble 4 counties, so therefore it was quite gutting to hear that the two 'Bean Goose at Kemerton' were late on in the day confirmed as both of the Taiga race!

I had not gone to see them as a Bean Goose is an irregular, but not unexpected discovery, that is in its usual 'Tundra' form, as birds can get latched onto Greylag flocks and hang around the region (such as the long staying Chelmarsh bird) or with the wintering White-fronts at Slimbridge.

With it now being to late to 'respond' to the news, it would just have to wait, and they left.

Luckily however, they didn't move far, and soon relocated to Slimbridge, where, while away in Cambridge with the Worcester crew, me and Neil made arrangements to drop in the next morning, with the added bonus of a rather smart looking adult Hooded Crow.

The great thing about being a WWT member is the ability for early access, and we chose to exploit that today, so, following a brief foray onto the patch to see the Mandarins (5) and Goosanders (2), we set off south.

It was great to see the car park and Holden Tower as empty as it was, as I'm sure many of you who bird Slimbridge can tell you, it gets rather scrum like up there later in the day.

Luckily, 4 birders had the hide to ourselves, and the small flock of Greylag the TAIGA BEAN GEESE had chosen to associate with were feeding remarkably close to the hide, giving rather stunning views of this rare race.
For an hour, we were treated to great views as they grazed close to the hide, before dozing off to sleep. While watching these, a flock of 14 Golden Plover dropped onto the Dumbles in heavy rain.

With the first people starting to arrive, we chose to head off to search for our other target.

Following some time in the rather aptly named hide, and still remaining Hooded Crow-less, we moved back around to the Zeiss hide for a wider view, and and soon after, Neil was shouting out that he had it!

It was showing in the field right next to the hide we were just in!
Following distant views, and getting the two birders we had been watching the Bean Geese earlier with onto the bird, we made the quick exit to hopefully reach the hide to get a good view. We got to the hide and it had gone!

A very showy Cetti's warbler kept me interested however in the Crows absence, which contrary to the rule, chose to sing from an exposed perch right outside the hide! To further emphasise the coming spring shown by out trip out east the day before , my first Swallow of the year hawked around outside the hide, always adding that glimmer of excitement as you remember late nights and Hirundines hawking above your head!

While watching that subtle brown warbler bird yell out its ear shatteringly loud song, the call went up the Crow was back, and soon after I was watching a rather snazzy looking HOODED CROW, the northern and western subspecies/Full species/ race or whatever you want to think it as.

No matter what its genetics tell us, this is a really smart bird! Infact I had forgotten just how good looking since I last saw them in Turkey!

All too briefly, and the bird flew back up into the Rookery, and with limited time, we ran away, happy at our outstanding success.

Not bad for a few hours birding on a Sunday morning!


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