Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Bread-rested Goose- how plastic could it really be?

In this post I am going to try and be as unbiased as possible toward the Red-breasted Goose that is currently as Scaling Dam in North Yorkshire. When the bird first turned up I must confess I discarded the bird immediately as a fence hopper, however typically I say and thought about it for a short while and thought I better pay a visit and see the bird for myself.

Picked up a mate and we headed down and were on site at about 11.00. When we entered the hide a birder was watching it and told us the general area where the bird was. We picked up the bird fairly quickly but it wasn't good news, as I was aware it was in with the local Greylag and Canada Geese. Not a good sign! I settled down to study the bird and with it being a reasonable distance I cracked up to full zoom to study the more intricate details. I made the following field notes:

  • Some wear seemed to be shown to the greater coverts and to some extend the median coverts aswell. Primaries also seem worn on this bird. The tail was pretty worn on this bird, which I find fairly odd? (comments welcome on this)
  • A very active feeder, not showing that much interest in roosting like other geese.
  • Not a social bird, although it is tagging along with the Greylags and Canadas it clearly knows its not meant to be with them. They return the favour by chasing the bird!
So the notes I made might not seem very extensive but they consist of information I think might be relevant for the bird. Ofcourse this bird has some pro's and some con's.

  • Its a juvenile, and unringed!
  • The feathers seem worn, to put it a crude way it feels like its come a long way! 
  • Brent Geese are on the move and are starting to return to the UK.
  • Its actively feeding, not something I would expect captive birds to do. They will be used to being fed whenever they like and getting looked after. This bird seems very independent.
  • Red-breasted Geese have been accepted in late September/Early October in the past.
  • Its at Scaling Dam! Whenever a bird lands there it is given the kiss of death from the rarities committee. Or so it would seem. 
  • Some Red-breasted Geese do breed in very low numbers in Southern England. 
  • It isn't with Brent Geese.
  • It turned up on its own (or so it would seem).
  • It is now tagging along with the local Greylags and Canadas.
So the Con's list seems pretty large but below in order I am going to try and address some of the cons from my point of view and from evidence I know:
  • Genuine wild geese do indeed turn up at Scaling Dam. Earlier in the year a Tundra Bean Goose turned up and got in with the Greylags, it was there for about a week before departing. It became semi-tame (from what I understand). Also wild neck ringed Greylag Geese have been seen at Scaling Dam before. So although it seems to be escapee pond of Northern England genuine birds do turn up, just because something has one negative doesn't rule out any positives.
  • Although some Red-breasted Geese breed down south in England why exactly would a juvenile disperse from its parents and fly north? It makes no sense. Even captive birds retain that sense of instinct and the instinct would be unlikely to fly north to look for wintering sites. A possibility is that the bird could be an escape from the continent? 
  • It isn't with Brent Geese but who's to say it wasn't? There is no evidence for or against this argument so I'll leave it there. But it is worth noting that a single Goose of a species is a fairly regular occurrence in the Teesmouth area for whatever reason! For example a single Brent Goose on Greatham Creek. 
  • It would appear that it might have turned up on its own, however as I pointed out above the bird might have arrived with Brent Geese, left the flock and went its own way. Or it might have arrived on its own, horribly lost. 
  • Because it is know that the bird joined Canadas and Greylags and didn't come in with them this would point toward this not being a problem. Naturally if you are lost and you start wandering you are going to group up with birds that are from your "type" (geese). They are not a good carrier species but it didn't come in with them so not really an issue (in my eyes). 
I might edit this sometime soon so keep tuned and as I might change the post, if I do I will put at the top of the post I have made edits and the date I made the edits. 

But for now here is the glorious creature:

(Red-breasted Goose - © Andrew Kinghorn)

Please view video in HD, if unsure how to do this CLICK HERE.

With me the verdict is still out on this bird.

Until next time, Foghorn out!


  1. Take white sliced loaf next time

  2. Well we did have a single brent goose at Newburn, Seaton Carew on 25th Sept.

  3. Not so sure to be honest........maybe 2. ;)

    Don't write this bird off just yet! If it disgraces itself by staying until like May next year I might withdraw my support of wild origin. lol

  4. In answer to your question..... VERY !! Now get a grip man, stop twitching plastic nonsense and get out birding !!