Friday, November 19, 2010

Digiscoped Snow Goose

Driving home this evening I caught a glimpse of white among some feeding Canada Geese in the Broomfield "field". After wondering while waiting at the next light whether I had seen a plastic bag or a bird I decided to take the chance and head back for another look. I pulled into the conveniently located historical farmhouse parking lot and had a great look at a smallish white goose.

Fortunately today was the first day I was ready with a new bit of technology. A spotting scope and adapter now allow me to join the ranks of digiscopers - hopefully giving me an opportunity to get more detail on distant birds, and as a result some more tricky ids in the future.

In the field this evening I was leaning to calling this bird a Ross's Goose. It was smaller than the surrounding Canadas, and appeared to have a small bill. Glad I had pictures! Note the forehead of this bird. A Snow Goose's head continues up from the bill along roughly the same angle as the bill itself. For a Ross's Goose the forehead rises more sharply from the top of the bill and shows a bit more angle. The other solid field mark for a Snow Goose is a grin patch on the bill. The grin patch is a dark area on the bill itself that gives an impression of an opening. The low light of the evening didn't really allow the feature to show, but I believe close zooms reveal it to be there. From all this I come away with the feeling that this is a Lesser Snow Goose.

As my first white goose in my home county I am glad to have seen it. Had I not been ready with scope and camera I would have likely walked away with an incorrect id, or at least doubts about the details I had missed.

Not everything had been quite as smooth on my scope rig's inaugural day. I woke early this morning and was in position on Baseline Reservoir at sunrise. After a 3/4 mile walk with tripod, scope, camera and bins I was ready for some great shots - but realized that I had left my memory card back in the truck. Fittingly, as I stood trying to bask in the beautiful morning, just binocular birding and not worried about getting shots I had three loons approach. Two were Common Loons, and the third was a ...Pacific Loon. All three came right up to shore at the point where I was watching. So, I regret being unable to share pictures of the best loon looks I have gotten; but trust me they were a great way to start the day.

The scope rig requires a more manual photographic approach, so there will probably be some additional growing pains along the way. Hopefully there will be more looks to share soon though, so check back in the days and weeks to come.

1 comment:

  1. I will be interested in your results with the scope and the learning process.