Thursday 29 November 2012

Greater White-fronted Goose in Waterloo

With a distinct lack of rarities in Ontario lately, I have done significantly less driving (and birding). There just haven't been the birds and to be honest, after all the hectic traveling that I have done throughout the year, it can be hard to find motivation!

This morning I finished writing and sending in a good stack of rare bird reports from this year to the Ontario Bird Records Committee (35 down, 9 to go...). Feeling a little restless, I ventured north to Waterloo, where fellow birder and blogger Alvan had discovered a Greater White-fronted Goose yesterday. He found the bird at Colombia Lake, part of the University of Waterloo Campus. I had only seen one White-fronted so far this year (from way back in January) and I had never seen one in Waterloo Region, so this seemed like a worthwhile venture!

After a pleasant cross-county drive in which I hit nearly every green light, I arrived at the lake. I could see a massive flock of geese on the lawn of a nearby rugby pitch but something else caught my attention - gulls! Hundreds of gulls were perched on the edge of the ice on the lake, so of course I spent some time sifting through them. I was happy to find a juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull, which turned out to be a new species for my Waterloo county list.

Soon enough though the geese were calling my name so I headed on over. A quick scan with the binoculars, and there it was!

Greater White-fronted Goose - Waterloo (November 29, 2012)

That was easy. There was a single Cackling Goose there as well, presumably the bird Alvan had a few days ago. As long as I moved slowly, the geese were quite tolerant and allowed me to approach closely for photos. Time for a big wing stretch...

Greater White-fronted Goose - Waterloo (November 29, 2012)

Greater White-fronted Geese, like all the other North American species, breed in the Arctic. While some species migrate through Ontario regularly, the core migratory range of white-fronts is through the Great Plains, west of Ontario. Consequently Ontario only occasionally gets them, and usually they are single individuals that must be somewhat lost. This one managed to find a flock consisting of a mixture of the local "Giant" Canada Geese and the migrant "Interior" Canada Geese.

Greater White-fronted Goose - Waterloo (November 29, 2012)

Nearly every photo I took had parts of other geese in the background. Finally, after a few minutes of stalking, I was able to get it by itself.

Greater White-fronted Goose - Waterloo (November 29, 2012)

Alvan Buckley and Mira Furgoch also made an appearance, as did about a half dozen other local birders throughout the day. I did not know there were so many birders that called the ornithological desert of Waterloo Region home! 

Alvan, Mira and I studied the gulls since the geese were flushed by some dog walkers. A great variety were present, including an adult Glaucous Gull, a juvenile Kumlien's Iceland Gull, and the juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull. 

It was a worthwhile trip. I managed to see 3 new Waterloo birds, bringing my county list up to 201. Plus any day where I can study gulls other than Herrings and Ring-billeds is a good day, in my book!

Greater White-fronted Goose - Waterloo (November 29, 2012)


Alvan Buckley said...

My new goal for the county is 202 ;)

It was nice seeing you today. Sweet photos!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Alvan! Nice find. Hopefully the next rarity you find for the county isn't another GWFG :P