Date: 2/22/21 8:30 am
From: Petra Hockey <phockey...>
Subject: [texbirds] ÿtf-8?Q?Blue-morph_Ross’s_Goose_near_Alamo_Beach,_Cal?ÿtf-8?Q?houn_Co._(and_more)?Message-Id: <8465BF00-6B51-42BD-B555-AAC92965889C...>

My first little birding jaunt after the epic frost took me to Alamo Beach to check on the Black and Surf Scoters that had been there recently. Did not find either and was also very surprised to find a drastically reduced number of Common Goldeneyes, Lesser Scaup, Common Loon, Eared Grebe and Red-breasted Mergansers. Only the Buffehead seemed comparable to pre-frost numbers. The Spotted Sandpiper and the Belted Kingfisher were awol, too.

Then I took FM 2760 that leads from Alamo Beach to Magnolia Beach. It’s always a good area for geese. When scanning the short grazed pastures I found a group of 160 American Wigeon waddling around and feeding among the cows. No water to be seen anywhere in that pasture. It was an odd sight. Next I happened upon a slightly distant flock of white geese. The estimated 550 individuals had a single blue goose mixed in among them. Very suspicious and enough reason to set up the scope to investigate. As I had suspected, the flock turned out to be pretty much pure Ross’s Geese. It took me a while to get some decent views of the blue goose but finally it walked to the edge of the flock and showed all signs of a blue Ross’s. The small bill, identical size to neighboring Ross’s, blue-black color on the neck going high up to just under the chin, dark color coming up the back of the neck to the top of the head (not visible on the photos but seen in the field), and the white feathers on th
e rear. I tried out my new Canon Powershot SX70 at maximum magnification and although the photos are pretty horrible, they do show most of these features. (Photos can be seen on facebook Texbirds). An even larger flock of white geese on an adjacent pasture had many more blue geese mixed in among the whites and, predictably, it turned out to be a flock of about 60% Snow and 40% Ross’s Geese.

Gone from the fields were the Long-billed Curlews, the numbers of Savannah Sparrows, Yellow-rumped Warblers and Eastern Phoebes that frequented the fencerows before the frost. I fear many of them did not survive. But the Red-tailed Hawks, incl. a beautiful pale Krider’s, were dotting the power poles like always.

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