December 2009


My stepdaughter Gwen Keller and I were out at Cowan counting birds for an eSites project yesterday (Tuesday, 29 Dec). We found two Wilson’s Snipe in the shallow eastern end of the lake, visible from the easternmost boat ramp. The lake is down about five feet from normal, apparently in an attempt to control the rampant American lotus, reducing the lake to something like the original Cowan Creek. The birds were busily foraging along the margins.

Peterjohn states that snipe are rare winter residents in the southern and central counties. This is certainly the latest that I have seen it here.

Wilson's Snipe. The striped back and head separate it from the dowitchers.

Another view.  Cowan Lake has been drawn down to the point that it is once again Cowan Creek,

The back stripes are particularly evident on the bird on the left.

Larry Gara and I were taking a census of Cowan Lake for our eSites project when we came across a large flock of geese at the beach. They were mostly Canadas, which have been absent in recent weeks. Immediately apparent were two Snow Geese, but while trying to count the Canadas, I came across a Greater White-Fronted Goose. Larry manned the scope while I tried to get close enough for a couple of pictures. Larry confirmed all the field marks of a greater white-front. I had less success with the photos.

It was late afternoon and the GWFG was in deep shadow and feeding actively. As a result, the pictures are not sharp, owing mainly to the movement of the bird. Close enough for government work, I guess, but not likely to make the pages of Audubon magazine.

Greater White-Fronted Goose

The bird is in left center foreground. Good comparison with the Canada Geese. Note also the two Snow Geese.

The Greater White-front goose in profile

The Breater White-fronted Goose in profile. The bird's motion blurred the photo, but the white front is clearly evident.

GWFG in profile

Antoher profile shot of the GWFG with better view of white front.

GWFG feeding

The Greater White-fronted Goose feeding. The white front is obscured, but all of the other field marks are shown. Absence of black stocking and white chin strap, brown breast with ragged transverse black streaks, lack of bright white lower belly, bright orange legs.