My wild goose chase

OK, so it is cliche now to call an activity a “wild goose chase”, but in my case, I was really chasing two wild geese.

On January 31, 2014, a report of Pink-footed Geese in Baltimore, Maryland sent the birding community abuzz. This is a species native to northern Europe, and it is an ABA (American Birding Association) Code 4 rarity (the ABA codes range from 1 to 6, the higher the rarer, with 6 being “extinct”, so the scale is really from 1 to 5). The second day (February 1), I made a trek to this region (it is about one and half hour’s drive for me). After a couple of false starts — the geese, being wild, moved about a lot — finally I got report from the Maryland birding mailing list that they were re-discovered on the Stevenson University campus. I hurried over, and sure enough, there they were on a meadow, among a flock of about a hundred or so Canada Geese. The view was distant but I got a few passable pictures.

Pink-footed Goose

Pink-footed Goose

Another oddity among this flock of Canada Geese is one with a white back-of-the-neck. It is just a Canada Goose with aberrant coloring, but I labeled it as “White-necked Goose”.

"White-necked Goose"

“White-necked Goose”

I could not get close to the Pink-footed Geese, or rather, I did not want to get too close to spook them, as there were many other birders watching them (in any case, I would not want to disturb them). The following are two of the best pictures I could get, the “White-necked Goose” is in fact in the background of both pictures.

Pink-footed Geese

Pink-footed Geese

Pink-footed Geese

Pink-footed Geese

I stayed around for a couple of hours, knowing full well that I may not see them again unless I go to Greenland or Iceland. But eventually I had to leave.

I stopped at Fort Armistead on the way home. In this rather severe winter, the Chesapeake Bay is full of ice floes. Where there was open water, waterfowl and gulls were floating or swimming around. A pair of Lesser Scaups were near the boat dock, allowing me to get a few close pictures.

Lesser Scaup (male)

Lesser Scaup (male)

Lesser Scaup (female)

Lesser Scaup (female)

For more on this trip, with more images of the geese and scaups, you may visit my website here (for storage reasons I do not include too many pictures on my blogs).

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