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Saturday, 15 January 2011

Wild Goose Chase

This morning, I heard a calling Coal Tit from the garden looking west I couldn't see the bird &  I drove down to Southwold Town Marshes with Andrew E and Robert Wil. Parking just east from the harbour looked back over the marsh, the 5 White- fronted Geese were just south of a large flock of Canada Geese. The White- fronts, had been called probable Greenland flavirostris race ones, it appeared to be a family group, male and female adults and 3 immatures completely lacking white facial shields and reduced breast markings. To be honest the jury is still out on their racial identity. Although the male was on the large side (for a White-front) and appeared slightly longer necked and billed he sported a completely pink bill (as did all the others, although the Collins Guide states the "bill is long (which they were) but predominantly orange, but can look pinkish!" they were reasonably dark on the head, and neck but the breast was very pale colour as was the pale area between the two main area of thick breast markings. One appeared to have a narrow white tail tip (good for flavirostris Greenland race) while another had a thicker white tail tip (albifrons N. Europena/Siberian race). The breast markings were unusually thick and bold black, but I have seen well marked White- fronts with these before. 
I have no experience of Greenland White-fronts but would maybe expect them to be a little darker (on breast and mid belly area) with orange/ yellow bills. BWP states some albifrons can appear as dark as flavirostris Greenland race but are only separable by bill colour ie. Greenland's have orange/ yellow bills rather than pink! The 5 White- fronts ALL had pink bills, so not exceptable to me as they walked behind the Canada's and walked south at the back of the field.
A later visit to North Beach, Gunton Beach, Ness Point and Hamilton Dock I again failed to locate the elusive Iceland Gull and just saw an adult winter Mediterranean Gull flying north. 

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