Monday, January 1, 2018

Centennial Goose Review (and the Swan at Elkhorn) -- Rare Species for Howard County

Above: Snow goose, dark morph adult, at Centennial Lake.

A massive flock of Canada geese often offers the opportunity to see less common species of goose. Mixed in the flock currently at Centennial Lake, birders found individuals of three species besides Canada. The dark morph snow goose above is also called blue morph. Usually more white than dark, snow geese can be found in flocks of thousands on the Delmarva Peninsula this time of year, but a few sometimes show up further inland. Photos of the other goose species at Centennial follow, interspersed with views of the flock in general (taken on December 30). Note that while they are at the lake, these geese occasionally fly away during the day along with their Canada relatives to feed in fields.

Above: The main flock, including the less common geese, was concentrated near the area of the boat ramp, where there is still a large stretch of unfrozen water.

Above: Greater white-fronted goose.

Below: Cackling goose. Not rare, but hard to spot among similar Canada geese. More cackling probably were present, but this one was right up front and easy to distinguish. It's about half the size of a Canada goose and has a stouter bill.

Above: Cackling goose (center) next to Canada goose.

Below: The tagged female trumpeter swan continues at Lake Elkhorn. Photo taken yesterday.


Lake Kittamaqundi note:

My regular lake for birdwatching, Lake Kittamaqundi, is completely frozen over now. I am monitoring the status of a great blue heron, which I noticed standing in the same spot for several consecutive days. Unable to fish, it must conserve energy until it can feed again, if it makes it through the severe cold. The heron is pictured below, and it's the same heron photographed in the same spot in my previous post. It's not a good idea to approach and spook a heron or any other bird in this condition while it's trying to save calories between infrequent winter meals.