Birding is exciting!

Birding highlights can come from some surprising directions!

by Tristan

Sometimes when you go out birding the highlight of the day can come from some surprising  directions.

During the latter part of the spring I was visiting Northumberland with a couple of good friends. Our main interest was the hope of seeing and hearing a Marsh Warbler that had been present for a short while. This was a species that none of us had seen for some time; so we were quite excited with the prospect!

After a nervous wait the bird began to sing, We were soon treated to some great views.

Marsh Warbler © Tristan Reid

Marsh Warbler © Tristan Reid

This was a great opportunity to study the intricacies of this subtle acro. However this scarcity was not the biggest excitement of the day; neither was the amazing views of a Short-eared Owl at Cresswell Pond!

The biggest excitement came in the form of a group of birds that were almost certainly escapes or from feral populations on the near continent.

Bar-headed Geese © Tristan Reid

Bar-headed Geese © Tristan Reid

This group of geese were a complete surprise. They were pristine and stunningly beautiful birds. These birds were behaving as if they were wild; though we knew that their provenance was almost certainly questionable!

Bar-headed Geese are a species that breed in central Asia; their migration takes them over the top of the Himalayas flying at a staggering 29,000+ feet altitude. Astounding stuff! This species is often mooted as a potential vagrant to the UK! However given the already extant feral populations and ‘escapes at large‘ a true vagrant would be nigh on impossible to prove!

For me, the questions that cannot be answered, the possibilities and raw wonder are the most exciting aspects of birding!

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4 Responses to Birding is exciting!

  1. In the middle of spring migration on 6 May 2000 I picked up a high flying bird heading south over my patch Walthamstow Reservoirs. I could not work it out but eventually realised I was watching a Bar-headed Goose! I was rather impressed with the bird, there are a number of feral birds in London including a growing population of Red-crested Pochards. I never managed a Marsh Warbler there but numerous mimicking Reed Warbler, they always came in the second wave of Reeds normally from mid May onwards. They liked the non-reed habitat e.g. brambles and Japanese knot weed.

    • Tristan Reid says:

      They are superb looking geese aren’t they! Interesting regarding your mimicking Reed Warblers; particularly their habitat choice. It would be interesting to learn their origins,

  2. Simon Rix says:

    From the beginning of June small flocks of Bar-headed Geese turn up in Southern Norway with for example a flock of 25 migrating NW off Lista on 18 June and a feeding flock of 39 on 5 August in Rogaland. I assume these birds originate from the same source as the Northumberland birds which is presumably feral populations in Northern Europe (Holland?) and they seem to be developing a migratory pattern. What is most interesting for me is that in each of the last three years a small group has turned up on the Hardangervidda at a height of 1200 metres which is maybe a sign that the birds are returning to their natural habits.

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