Whilst scanning the Gulls late morning having only seen a second-winter Yellow-legged Gull
, I scanned the fields and picked out the 9 Barnacle Geese
, and next to them were 9 more Geese. Being very tired from being up early it took me a few seconds to realise what was going on (I'm still lost), although it was soon clear there were a couple of small Canada Geese.
Taken back by this, I moved closer to the 'transatlantic vagrants' and identified four Cackling Geese
and 5 presumed Cackling x Barnacle Geese
hybrids. I watched the birds for a while feeding and flying around having been spooked by something that evaded me and landing again. I released the exciting news and in no time the twitch had begun with Bob Self arriving ahead of no one else.
Certainly an interesting group of Geese, having no idea where they had come from, but I certainly don't recall having heard of these 9 birds before. I think four birds are slightly better then one so who knows what the outcome of these will be, and with certain dross getting through the BBRC without hesitation then these should breeze through. Either or, they were smart little birds to watch.
Not that it matters, but these birds had arrived to the Cuckmere at some point early on today, and were also all fully-winged etc.
Cackling Geese (form minima)
presumed Cackling x Barnacle Geese
Barnacle Geese - 9
- 100 flew south
Yellow-legged Gull - 1 2w
Cackling Goose head on showing its very dark breast and incredibly small size
Cackling Goose left and hybrid right
hybrid left, 2 Barnacles and a Cackling Goose - its difficult to ascertain the size differences on the uneven ground but in flights the Cackling were certainly the smallest, but differentiating the hybrids and the barnacles in size was a different story.
not being a Canada Goose expert, I initially thought the birds were Richardson's (B.hutchinsii hutchinsii) having seen this form on the Outer Hebs and in Norfolk, but further research etc makes them the rarer Cackling Goose of the sub-species minima (B.h.minima)