Greater White-fronted Geese – Weekend Highlight

In the right setting any bird can be a highlight, so I can usually come up with one on any given weekend. Be it a chickadee or titmouse. But most people don’t look at those birds in that light so I try to find something others would like to read. And on many weeks in winter it’s tough picking a highlight. But not this past weekend.  I’ll have a future story about a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers. And there were Snow Geese this weekend. But I’ll go with Greater White-fronted Geese since one caught my eye.

I have already posted on the Barred Owl. Besides Saturday’s encounter I had a similar situation Sunday except the owl flew after a couple of seconds. It didn’t fly far and we stared at each other through the tree limbs. It finally took off into the deep woods before the Blue Jays spotted it and started their mandatory harassing.

Was it the sudden change in the weather that brought out the Barred Owls I’ve seen them in the open previous winters. I need to look back at dates and weather for a correlation.

For the record both the count of 20 Greater White-fronted Geese and 1500 Snow Geese were personal high counts in Johnson County.

Even though I didn’t get a good view of the Snow Geese there is a story behind seeing them. Especially if you could have seen me from a distance. This was another case of being deep in a small patch of forest and hearing geese. Since the sound was coming from the west my first thought was the flock of Canada Geese I’d seen earlier. But the sound got louder and I knew the “barking” of Snow Geese.

So I started running, if you can call it that all layered up and in winter boots, for an open area. It took a solid minute (I was counting my strides which equate to a minute) before I got out of the woods. By this time they were to the SW. I got distant a look through the binoculars and even one bad photo. I estimated the flock at 1500 as they were heading south.

That’s the best I could do on the Snow Geese. Only a small portion of a large flock. Johnson County Park 1/28/17

The Greater White-fronted Geese were at the famed Lowes Pond in Franklin. They were in a nice little flock together moving about the pond.

Now the part that makes them the highlight was when they got out of the water and showed their undersides.

The Greater White-fronted Geese stuck to a nice group moving around the pond. Lowes Pond, Franklin 1/26/17
A comparison showing Mallards are a little bit smaller than Greater White-fronted Geese. Sibley has Mallard with 23″L and Greater White-fronted Geese at 28″L. Difference is the Wingspan – 35″ vs. 53″.
Now the real story starts when the Greater White-fronted Geese get out of the water.

I can’t recall ever seeing Greater White-fronted Geese out of water. I have seen huge flocks flying and on the water, but I don’t recollect seeing them out of water except feeding in distant fields.

So I never noticed the cool barring on Greater White-fronted Geese undersides.

I’ve noticed it in field guides and photos, but never in person. It reminds me of seeing the barring on Brants over the last holidays.

Note the light barring on this Brant from Connecticut last December.
Greater White-fronted Geese
With their colors I think the underside barring gives them a cool, tiger like appearance. At least for the ones with barring. And their legs are extremely orange.

2 Replies to “Greater White-fronted Geese – Weekend Highlight”

  1. Is this the winter of the goose, or what? It seems like SNGOs and GWFGs are appearing en-masse in Indiana away from their traditional haunts. I lifered GWFG in Allen County last week, but did not get nearly as good of a look as you did. I will have to stop by the Franklin Lowe’s some time. It really seems like the place to be.

    1. The Franklin’s Lowes is one of those places that needs checked regular. Seems it is either hopping or completely dead. And usually the opposite of what you expect driving there.

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