Thursday 18 January 2007

Goodies from Back Home Courtesy of...

The sun came out yesterday, the sky was bright and blue and the ice everywhere was sparkling and shining as if Christmas had returned. And I went to the Arb!
Surely one of the most magnificent days out ever! I took many pictures (not of birds though, too few around, but a Sapsucker was a good find) and will write about the last two days on this blog later when I've had them digitalized, probably next week. Right now I am simply deprived of words at the sheer thought of yesterday's walk through the Arb, beyond beautiful.

Talking about beauty...
Just after I got here (Ann Arbor) from back home (German Baltic Coast) an email with a picture arrived through the local back-home-birders email forum.
There had been a Red-breasted Goose on the island of Hiddensee, found by Mr. Wollmerst├Ądt and digiscoped beyond beautiful by Silke Fregin and Annett Kocum. The pictures were so great that I later asked them if I could use them for my blog, and I know it is hard to comprehend the beauty of icy rain when the sun is shining and to not lose your sense of gravity when watching the beauty of a Red-breasted Goose but can you believe this: they said yes, I could!
Wow, maybe they never looked at my blog?

Anyway, I am very happy that I can show these images here, so if you don't mind respect copyright regulations, these pictures are the property of Silke and Annett. You may look at them here, even repeatedly so, but that's it unless you ask!

Well, well, the Red-breasted Goose. Did you know why Poe never wrote a poem about the Red-breasted Goose? He wanted to but then realized he was such a gloomy old mess that there was no way he could have done that species justice in poetry. Yes, it is true, the Red-breasted Goose is one of the real Eurasian birding fire crackers.
Sure, it is rare in western Europe but so is Blyth's Reed Warbler, and frankly, looking for that species amongst these isn't a fraction of the fun you have scanning your ordinary goose assembly for the cuties.
The Red-breasted Goose is also a very birder-friendly species because a few decades ago it had decided to shift its wintering grounds from the rather difficult to access Caspian sea to the west coast of the Black Sea, namely Romania and Bulgaria. But one doesn't need to go there as well, and it is not really recommend because I know of no birder who has actually survived the sight of a flock of several thousand Red-breasted Geese. Those photos you may find on the Internet were achieved by applying remote cameras, you know, the Cornell trick, these guys had to learn it from somewhere... Gosh, I am being distracted yet again.
With this shift towards the west came a more frequent appearance in western Europe by single birds mixed in the goose masses migrating to the Netherlands and the lower Rhine valley and now one might consider the Red-breasted Goose a rare but rather regular migrant along the Baltic and North Sea shores, with maybe 5 to 10 records in Germany per year.
Here are a few great links, links and links for those interested in a bit of a background about this species. Those of you who now finally want to get over this written crap and move on to the pictures:
Go ahead, scroll down a bit!

As the following image demonstrates, it is often remarkably difficult to spot a cutie in a flock of other geese (in this case Barnacle Geese with a few Eurasian Wigeons and a Lapwing).

Haven't found it yet?
It's the white horizontal stripe on the upper left in front of two or three clustered Barnacles at the edge of the group.
Still can't see it?
Well, never mind, here's a close-up!

Yepp, the bird behind it is a male Eurasian Wigeon. Would this be a neat group of birds to see at Lake Erie Metro Park or not? Some distraction from the raptors I would think?
See, good they are not there because one shouldn't interfere with science in progress.
Just take a look at this bird, can you believe it?!

That's why I chose to publish these images today, the common theme between the Arb after icy rain and Red-breasted Geese:

Silenced by Nature's Wonders


Anonymous said...


Jochen said...

Thanks very much, Mike!
I am just very grateful that Silke and Annett allowed me to use these fabulous images of the goose. I just love those pictures because they really convey the whole excitement of what it is like to stand in the wind at the edge of a salt marsh and watch a Red-breasted Goose.
It is not only its colouration, it is as if the goose just knew that it alone is the one that is being watched and it just poses, look at the way it holds its head, the elegant arch in which it holds its neck while feeding,...

Ben C. said...

Thanks for sharing! I agree about Poe. He would've been a different writer if he were a birder.

'The Birders at the Rue Morgue' <- doesn't hvae quite the same ring as the original.

Jochen said...

Hi Ben,
in one of my older posts I introduced my hypothesis that Poe was indeed an early birder.

He simply focussed on the wrong species, all black and spooky like Ravens.
But I do agree with you: maybe we will never know how potentially amazing his poem about the Red-breasted Goose would have been, but stories on "Birders in the Rue Morgue" or a poem line "Quoth the Butterbutt Nevermore" would never have reached the level of what we know of him today regarding the intenisty of the athmospheres he is conjuring.