Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 10/03/2015

Photo taken on September 27, 2015

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Anne Elliott
Greater White-fronted Goose
E of Calgary
Lyn's property
near Eagle Lake
000 geese
27 September 2015
Anser albifrons
estimated 5

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Greater White-fronted Geese

Greater White-fronted Geese
Yes, a pretty much useless shot, including as far as ID is concerned. However, these birds were a tiny part of roughly 5,000 Greater White-fronted Geese that we saw flying over Marsland Basin on 27 September 2015 and I wanted to add this photo to my albums. This Goose species "is named for the patch of white feathers bordering the base of its bill" and I think I can just catch a spot of white on the top right Goose's face.

On this September day, I joined friends on a most enjoyable day of birding east of the city. Below, I have added Howard Heffler's report of the day's sightings, adding that, as usual, there were some species that I didn't see myself.

We were all delighted to see a huge swarm of Greater White-fronted Geese fly over the wetland at Marsland Basin. In the far distance, we could see a second huge gathering of them, but these didn't fly towards us. People were seeing several Snow Geese mixed in with the flock seen in my photo, but I only spotted them when I got the photo on my computer. I can see four of them towards the left side of the photo, above the right hand edge of the red/purplish bushes.

"Breeding across the tundra from Nunavut to Siberia, across Russia, and in Greenland, the Greater White-fronted Goose has one of the largest ranges of any species of goose in the world. In North America, however, it is common only west of the Mississippi River, where it is found in large flocks in wetlands and croplands." From AllABoutBirds.

"It is named for the patch of white feathers bordering the base of its bill. Even more distinctive are the salt-and-pepper markings on the breast of adult birds, which is why the goose is colloquially called the "specklebelly" in North America." From Wikipedia.

It was also nice to see one of the four Badgers in the family that lives on a property adjacent to our friend Lyn's land. On a previous visit, I had been lucky enough to see three of these Badgers. These are so rarely seen.

"We had 12 people show up for a beautiful day to explore the sloughs east of Calgary. This included a lovely young family visiting from Lac la Biche. It was a bit chilly for the first two stops at the slough on Glenmore Trail and RR 284 and at Chestermere Lake. We then went directly to Marsland Basin when we spent much of our time. Although Lynn and Sue were not at home, we explored their property and listed 38 bird species and had a good look at one member of the badger family that lives on the adjacent property. By now the sun was up, we were all warm and there were a few passerines to add to the waterfowl. A highlight was an estimated 5000 Greater White-fronted Geese flying over. From there we went to the south side of Eagle Lake where we saw a distant murmuration of an (estimated) 10,000 European Starlings. Even from a distance this is a moving sight. Cattleland Slough did not add anything new to the list so we headed for home. Thanks to everyone for their sharp eyes and to Andrew Hart for his listing skills on eBird. The list below includes birds seen by the group and includes birds seen while driving and even the Downy Woodpecker in the Carburn parking lot. The numbers reported are the (best guess) of totals from all sightings. Errors of omission or commission rest with the author….

Greater White-fronted Goose - 5000
Snow Goose - 8
Canada Goose - 100
Gadwall - 74
American Wigeon - 7
Mallard - 44
Blue-winged Teal - 4
Northern Shoveler - 22
Northern Pintail - 71
Green-winged Teal - 110
Canvasback - 8
Redhead - 6
Ring-necked Duck - 8
Lesser Scaup - 150
Bufflehead - 38
Common Goldeneye - 12
Barrow's Goldeneye - 4
Ruddy Duck - 24
Gray Partridge - 12
Horned Grebe - 21
Eared Grebe - 9
Northern Harrier - 1
Bald Eagle - 2
Red-tailed Hawk - 3
Swainson's Hawk - 1
American Coot - 390
Greater Yellowlegs - 2
Lesser Yellowlegs - 22
Long-billed Dowitcher - 3
Bonaparte's Gull - 36
Franklin's Gull - 42
Ring-billed Gull - 185
Rock Pigeon - 4
Downy Woodpecker - 1
Northern Flicker - 1
Black-billed Magpie - 7
American Crow - 24
Common Raven - 1
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 2
American Robin - 2
European Starling - 10000
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 8
Wilson's Warbler - 3
Dark-eyed Junco - 5
Savannah Sparrow - 2
Red-winged Blackbird - 8
Yellow-headed Blackbird - 1
Western Meadowlark - 2
Brewer's Blackbird - 2
Common Grackle - 1
Brown-headed Cowbird - 10
American Goldfinch - 1
House Sparrow - 20

TOTAL: 54 species
Howard Heffler"

Thanks so much, Dan and Cindy, for driving Darlene and myself there and back! We both greatly appreciated it!