Monday, November 16, 2009

Pink-footed Geese, Yarmouth, Maine

Recently hearing of the continued presence of three Pink-footed Geese in the Yarmouth, ME area, since first discovered a month and a half ago, motivated me to get on the road early Saturday morning and make the three hour drive. The last time I had an opportunity to see the species was February 11, 2006, when two geese were reported on the Connecticut River at Enfield, CT. I struck out. So the Maine sightings gave me some hope that this time may be productive.

The weather forecast for the day was not good...a nor'easter with heavy rains. Leaving home in a light rain, it was a wet drive until I got to the NH-ME stateline. From there north it was dry, cloudy but the rain was not far behind. Arriving at Idleknot Farm around 9 a.m. I found no other birders checking out the fields where the geese have been regularly seen. A couple hundred Canada Geese were visible feeding in the farfield, but no Pink-foots. Given the rolling terrain I suspected there were more geese than could be seen from my vantage point on Woodville Road. Soon I was joined by birders Don Mairs of Belgrade, ME and Letitia Lucier of UT. Don saw a new list serve post for the day that the Pink-foots were seen around 8 a.m., so the prospects were still good.

Jennifer Cummings, who lives in the house near our spotting location, came out and told us about seeing the geese earlier in the morning and that they very well could be hidden behind the far fields as we suspected. She kindly offered us permission to access the fields and suggested how we might go about getting the best view without agitating the geese. Approaching a slight rise, many more Canadas were revealed and Letitia was the first to spot the subjects of our efforts. K'ching! Pink-footed Geese are striking: short bicolored bill, pink legs and feet, grayish brown mantle and flanks with prominent white bars; gray tertials and paler gray secondaries with white edges, and dark brown head and neck. Size-wise I'd guess they are about 2/3 the size of the Canadas.

I began digiscoping the geese at the time the rain arrived. Go figure. So between the rain and less than optimal lighting conditions, the photos are of marginal quality.

Thanking Jennifer for her hospitality, we headed out our separate ways. For me a long but satisfying drive back home in pouring rain. A life bird for me and reportedly a new bird species for the Pine Tree State.

Check out Derek Lovitch's October 1 post at for his account of the first Maine sighting, and for general information on the species.

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