Although the first Brent geese were already seen in the Netherlands in September, it was about two weeks ago that other Arctic geese showed up in the Netherlands. On the 2nd of October big flocks of White-fronted Geese started coming into the Netherlands, and it didn’t take long before the first ringed ones were found: White-fronted geese with white neck-bands including GPS-loggers, banded on Kolguev by Andrea Koelzsch. But no ‘Arctic barnies’ yet..
Last week started out sad: a tagged Tobseda goose, W1N-, named Maria, was shot in Estonia on the 6th of October and reported to the Estonian Ringing Centre. Sad to hear, but a first sign that Russian geese were on their way to the Netherlands. I published a short article on the web on our banded Barnacle Geese to alert potential ringreaders, which was spread by nature lovers. Also, I gave a short presentation on the German goose meeting of the DO-G in Xanten last saturday, which was received by much enthousiasm.
Then last Thursday, the first Tobseda goose OPYN (Orange P, Yellow N) in the Netherlands was found, banded here in 2013 and seen this year on the breeding grounds in Tobseda! Some days later the first White and Black banded birds, W5NC & W5N6, two siblings, were seen in Friesland. The game is on!
So, for all potential ring readers, something on what to look for when you search for Barnacle Goose rings and what to note down. First of all, since it is still early in the season, rings are difficult to read in the high grass and finding banded birds can take quite some effort. The white rings which the Barnacle Geese banded this year have on their left leg, are very well visible, and should grab your attention to look for the band on the right leg. This one is, however, black and can be very difficult to see and read. Take your time, wait untill the bird is close, and you will be rewarded Note that this colour might be remind by some people as dark blue (B.) ring, which has been used in the past, but must be noted down as a black (N.) ring in geese.org.
When finding an adult Barnacle Goose with a W.N. combination, it is important to check whether the bird has any offspring following (see instructions for observations). Earlier in the winter, families of the geese are more often complete since the offspring becomes independent during early spring, and juveniles are easier to distinguish from adults in the period. This means that now is the time to go out looking for those geese. Below I provide some examples how to identify juvenile Barnacle Geese.
The upper picture shows a typical juvenile, while the lower shows an adult Barnacle goose. Note that the juvenile has 1) spots instead of clear defined lines on the flanks, and 2) less black marking on the back and less defined white bars on the wing feathers.
Below we see a picture of juvenile bird in the field, with an adult bird below for comparison (Thanks to Stephen Menzie for the pictures). Can you find the differences as pointed out in the drawings above?
Good luck finding the geese and their chicks in the field!