Saturday, December 4, 2010

Barnacle Goose update

At around 9AM today I re-found the rare Barnacle Goose that Frank Mantlik had discovered yesterday at Wooster Park in Stratford. I was unaware that he had seen it fly out of the pond there about 20 minutes earlier until I called and told him the news. I found it on the baseball field behind Bunnell High School with approximately 140 Canada Geese. Yesterday, when it was at Wooster Park, we observed it in the water, moving only a bit while preening and resting. Today I found it laying down on the grass feeding. Other geese were doing the same. However, when it got up very briefly, I noticed it had a left leg injury. It hobbled along for a few seconds before lying back down. After doing this again, I thought I saw bands on its legs as well.

Barnacle Goose in the center (top bird) resting

As I was about to leave Frank arrived to see it. While discussing the goose we noticed it getting up and moving around a bit more. He immediately saw what I thought I had - bands on both legs. They looked quite obviously to be wild bands, and not of a domestic bird. Naturally, the injury and band placement was not in our favor. The right leg had a plain plastic white band over a silver band with characters that were too small to read (and are meant for the hand). The left leg had a white band with black characters on it that is meant to be read while at a distance in the field. As you can see from the photos and video the geese were relatively far from us as we were on top of a hill being pushed around by strong winds. Nevertheless, Frank's eagle eyes were able to scope two of three characters - the letters V and U followed by something else.

Here's the Barnacle hopping around holding up the injured leg as well as lying down feeding - this video was not meant to be pretty given the conditions, merely a record of a rare bird and a unique individual.

Remember you can make it full-screen by clicking the lower right button in the video or go to the link above to watch it in a larger size on the Vimeo website.

I was amazed Frank was able to read those two characters considering everything. The Barnacle often put its injured leg up and blocked our view as it hopped around. Canada Geese kept getting in between us, too. We both left a short time later figuring that would be sufficient for us to get somewhere, especially since I had a vague idea of reading about a banded Barnacle that had been seen recently in the northeast. We also stood a good chance of finding it there or somewhere else again later today or tomorrow.

Barnacle Goose in the center feeding while lying down

Fortunately that was all we ended up needing. After Frank emailed the CT birding list what we had seen Deb Kral pointed him to this page that details how this very goose was seen at Orchard Beach in New York on November 26 and 27. It has the same first two band letters and the same leg injury. They were able to get even better views of the bands, tracing the bird as having been banded as a juvenile on November 13, 2002 - in Scotland! You can read more about this now eight year-old bird on this blog including the fact it was seen until March 2005 and its whereabouts were unknown until now. It is truly a fascinating find. We will monitor it as best as we can.

Photos and video © Scott Kruitbosch


  1. I have photos of the goose on my blog as well.

    I was corresponding with the man who banded the Bird in Scotland and reported the siting to him.
    Here is a link to their website.

    Shari Zirlin