Monday, 23 January 2012

Grilling white-fronts

It's not too often that birders in North Wales get the chance to see White-fronted Geese close to home, and even less so at close range, so I seized the opportunity to grill a small group in Cleveland while up there with Marc and Rob on Saturday during a brief break from the gulls on Martin Garner's informative gull ID workshop. The group included 10 European/Russian birds and 1 Greenland bird feeding very close to the road, giving an excellent chance to compare the two forms together.

First-winter Greenland White-front on the left - easy enough to pick out with that orange conk but even with its head down the slightly darker upperparts and neck made it possible to sort it from the Euro birds

This was an interesting first-winter bird, with an orange base to the culmen but pink tip and lower mandible and otherwise appearing to fit Euro. The orange tone on the beak seemed slightly paler than on the Greenland bird that was present.

Great to compare adults and first winters at close quarters. Note the extensive black barring on the underparts of the left hand bird - not sure if that's a reliable sign of older age or gender, or just down to individual variation...

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