October 24th   Leave a comment

The wind has had a bit of southerly in it for a couple of days so birds were being pushed closer in to Crail today: on Thursday it was practically dead as everything was being blown well out to sea on the strong westerlies. But it felt very wintry sea-watching this morning. Lots of gannets, kittiwakes and auks, with a steady passage of red-throated divers into the Forth. I saw my first long-tailed duck of the winter too, beating like a giant bat against the strong wind.

I had a single goose flying past close in against the wind so it was moving in slow motion. Good thing because as I looked at it I couldn’t immediately identify it. When I first picked it up I was expecting a greylag from its shape, but through the telescope it seemed more like a pink-footed goose with its small dark head and lack of the bright whitish forewing. Then I noticed that the wing was quite uniformly dark, lacking even the paler grey contrast of a pink-footed and the penny dropped. A bean goose, and most likely a taiga bean goose (which has a much more greylag like structure than a tundra bean goose, which is much more like a pink foot). A very good goose for Crail even though there is a small population nearby that winters regularly in the Forth-Clyde valley. They don’t tend to appear until later in the winter and then we only see them if there is extreme weather pushing more pink-feet and other grey geese from the Continent over to Scotland. The last Crail “goose” winter was 2011-12. This winter is predicted to be cold so we may be in for another one.

Taiga bean goose

Taiga bean goose

Posted October 25, 2015 by wildcrail in Sightings

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