Wow! Seven Orange County Greater White-fronted Geese!!!

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~Two of seven Greater White-fronted Geese at Pierce Circle in the Black Dirt Region, 3/6/16.~

One of my first stops this morning was certainly the best of the day. I stopped to check out a group of approximately 500 Canada Geese located on Pierce Circle. I was not optimistic that I would find anything good among the Canadas, first of all because there were not very many birds, and second because the birds were close enough to sort through with binoculars (no scope needed!). I perked up when I located one, then two, then four GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE! Then another – make it five! I put the word out, continued looking and found a sixth GWFG. Maria Loukeris must have been in the area because she joined me pretty quickly. Shortly after her arrival, I located the SEVENTH GWFG! Scanning left to right, a group of four, then a pair, and then a single Greater White-fronted Goose sitting in the field on its own. Also present was a single Cackling Goose, close enough for some decent, if backlit photos. It was very exciting, and I particularly enjoyed when the group of four flew into the next field calling the whole time. After a few minutes, they rejoined the flock. It was hard to tear myself away from such great birds, but eventually I did.

I spent the rest of my morning and early afternoon in southern Orange County, but I did not have any additional notable sightings. I will mention that there is a huge group of Common Mergansers at Wickham Lake – I estimate 900 birds. The forecast for the afternoon and evening was clear skies, so I decided to try my luck at the Shawangunk Grasslands NWR…

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~This photo shows six of the seven Greater White-fronted Geese, can you find them? Pierce Circle, 3/6/16.~
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~Cackling Goose at Pierce Circle, 3/6/16.~

…and I got lucky! The Short-eared Owls got up early (around 5:00), the light was fantastic, and the birds flew close enough for some decent photos. I’ve said it many times before, but you cannot beat photographing SEOWs from the photo blinds out at the Grasslands. I got there early and waited a good while with very few birds. There were several Northern Harriers foraging the throughout the reserve and once in a while they would get close enough for photos, but there were large chunks of time with no birds at all. It was all totally worth it, of course, when the owls got up and put on their show. I counted a total of 5 Short-eared Owls, 7 Northern Harriers, and 2 Red-tailed Hawks. And I also saw my first Eastern Meadowlarks of the year. What a great day of birding!

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~Short-eared Owl in flight at the Shawangunk Grasslands NWR, 3/6/16.~
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~A nice look at a Northern Harrier, Shawangunk Grasslands NWR 3/6/16.~
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~A SEOW shoots through the grasses at the reserve. Shawangunk Grasslands, 3/6/16.~
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~I love getting a good look at the top side of these birds. Short-eared Owl at Shawangunk Grasslands, 3/6/16.~
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~SEOW in flight, Shawangunk Grasslands, NWR 3/6/16.~
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~NOHA giving a look in my direction, Shawangunk Grasslands NWR, 3/6/16.~ 

12 thoughts on “Wow! Seven Orange County Greater White-fronted Geese!!!”

  1. An exciting day for all of you! I wish more people would sift through the geese, it can be very rewarding.

  2. I was at the SGNWR today as well, between around 2:30pm and maybe 4pm. Was there walking around with my daughter. We saw several Harriers, 2 Eastern meadowlarks, 1 Short Ear (was only up for a minute or so, probably flushed by a Harrier) I was also surprised by 2 Woodcocks that flushed out of the tall grass as we walked along the trail. Since she is only 2 the walking was slow and not very far, only walked down to the first gate, then went about halfway down towards the North blind before heading back to the parking lot.

    1. Jeff, I love that you are getting her out on the trail already! I heard a couple of Woodcocks in the black dirt last week and I’ve seen several reports too; seems like they are early this year. Matt

      1. She loves being outside, and especially seems to like the nature preserves. Hopefully she will learn to appreciate nature, so far so good.

    1. Thanks Deb! You can never know when they will get up early, just have to get lucky once in a while, I guess. Matt

  3. I guess I went to the wrong place tonight. I went to the platform at LL since I have not had any SEOW this season. I forgot to bring gloves and it was getting too dark to see them so I ended up going home without an owl. So sad. I wish someone had let me know about the cackling geese. I went later on, and they were gone……several 4 wheelers speeding around.

    Nice shots Matt.

    Wilma

  4. Congratulations on having such a rewarding day of birding, Matt! Love those SEOWs and your photos of them. So many GWFG and a CACG is a wonderful find as well. What a day you had!

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