Friday, December 19, 2014

Monroe Twp 12/19--Greater White-fronted Goose

The last couple of days I've been going to a spot new to me--Etra Lake (more a pond, really) in Mercer County. Some interesting geese have been reported there, but each day that I've been there I've found nothing but lots of Canada Geese. It became obvious that in order to find the rare geese, I'd have to get there earlier than the 9 AM I've been managing--today when I arrived the geese were already departing in waves of fifties and by 9:30 the lake was virtually devoid of geese. I was about a half hour late, according to one post on JerseyBirds.

Plan B called for me to go back to Applegarth Road in Monroe, about 15 minutes away,where I saw the Barnacle Goose on Monday. I didn't relish the idea.  When you park next to the huge corn field, reduced to stubble now, this is what you're confronted with:

Thousand of Canada Geese. Just as you're getting the scope out of the car, an immature eagle flies over and causes this:
By the time they all settle down, you get to scan through a quarter mile of this:
Until the eagle flies back (see picture 2).

So I was pretty happy when I spotted 3 Snow Geese in the flock; they were at least something different. I scanned back and forth without much hope until I abruptly stopped when looking me full in the face was a Greater White-fronted Goose, the bird I kept missing at Etra Lake. Just then another birder pulled in and as he was setting up his scope the eagle made another pass with predictable results. Happily, the geese settled back in and he was able to spot the GWFG close to the Snow Geese. Unfortunately, I couldn't digiscope because the camera battery died, probably because I left it in the cold car overnight. Such are the frustrations of winter birding.

Considering that I was just going through the motions without any real hope of finding the rare goose, I have once again confirmed my rarity rule--you don't find the bird until you have truly given up.

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