Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Etra Lake 11/18--Barnacle Goose

A report last night from Mercer County had a Barnacle Goose* on Etra Lake around 5 PM. Etra Lake, a little northwest of Assunpink, seems to attract odd geese. I remembered though, from last year, that you have to be there early, so I was on site at just about 7 AM. Already the hundreds of Canada Geese were departing for the nearby fields, though they were heading south, whereas I would expect them to go north toward Monroe, where Barnacle and Pink-footed Goose were also found last year.

I don't relish looking through hundreds of geese for the oddball, even if the oddball should stand out fairly well, unlike a Cackling Goose. I thought immediately that I had the bird, but it turned out to be one of at least 3 hybrid geese that were also in the mix, making the task just that much more difficult.

As waves of geese departed, I and the two other guys there figured that either the thinning out of the flock would make the Barnacle Goose stand out, or that we'd miss it fly away. The former happened as the goose showed itself as part of the flock opened up. I have to say that for a goose that is very different in appearance from Canada Goose it was extremely difficult to pick out.

It eventually disappeared into a cove on the lake and I wandered over there and got slightly better looks standing on a peninsula. The Barnacle was swimming along with a Cackling Goose. It actually made the Cackler easier to pick out since they are both more or less the same size.

Then that flock of geese took off and the Barnacle seemed to go with them. By 9 AM the lake was devoid of geese. Only a handful of ducks remained.

I took a decent walk in the park and found the birds I'd expect to find in mid-November. I made a quick trip to Assunpink, hoping that the Trumpeter Swans from the last couple of years would once again be on the lake but there was very little waterfowl to be found--6 Mute Swans, 5 ruddies, and a cormorant. I took a walk around there too without finding anything I haven't seen this month, though 33 Fish Crows flying overhead was impressive.

I like Etra Lake--it's a little more of a haul for a walk than I like to take but it's a good alternative to Assunpink when hunting season is in full swing. My list from the lake:
23 species
Barnacle Goose  1     Small, black, gray & white goose with barred back & white face.
Cackling Goose  1     Very small goose with stubby bill and short neck. 
Canada Goose  500
American Black Duck  9
Mallard  8
Green-winged Teal  3     with Mallards
Turkey Vulture  2
Red-bellied Woodpecker  5
Blue Jay  10
Fish Crow  1     Heard
Carolina Chickadee  3     Heard
Tufted Titmouse  6
White-breasted Nuthatch  2
Carolina Wren  4     Heard
American Robin  50
Northern Mockingbird  3
European Starling  20
Yellow-rumped Warbler  1
Field Sparrow  1
Dark-eyed Junco  5
White-throated Sparrow  25
Song Sparrow  1
House Finch  2

*Update 12/5: Unfortunately, "upon further review," as they say in the NFL, this bird turned out to be a hybrid--I'm guessing with Cackling Goose since it seemed to like hanging around with that species.

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