Bean Geese. Pete Woodruff.
No pictures of Barnacle Geese and this is just about as poor a photograph of three Bean Geese as you could imagine....well, it is one of mine! But take it from me these are definitely three of four Bean Geese on Fluke Hall Lane on 2 March 2009. So at least the pic is one of 'geese' and I was pleased to find two Barnacle Geese on Pilling Marsh last Friday with at least 10,000 Pink-footed Geese and some brief notes about the Barnacle Goose follows.
The Barnacle Goose (BG) has the distinction of having one of the most confused status of Lancashire birds and genuinely wild birds are well outnumbered by the feral breeding population, though the fact that wild birds do occur is proven by several recoveries/sightings of ringed individuals. With these two on Friday being with the large number of Pink-footed Geese (PFG) in Pilling Marsh I just have an underlying feeling I was looking at 'the real thing' but at the end of the day with a species like the Barnacle Goose unless it is a marked bird....who knows!
A search through the history books will show the earliest accounts of the BG to be found in the 17th century, but Oakes wrote of 'large numbers seen in Morecambe Bay' in the 19th century but becoming rarer in the first half of the twentieth, he mentions one with PFG at Martin Mere in 1934, and fifty at Crossens in 1941. The BG remained scarce during the 1950's but began to increase in the 60's and birds presumed to have been wild have been recorded almost annually since 1970. This upturn in the status appears to coincide with that of the wintering population on the Solway which grew from a point as low as 400 in the late 1940's to in excess of 4,000 in the 1970's.
So if I find/see any more BG this or any other winter I'll need to bear in mind, whilst places like Blackpool Zoo and Knowsley Park have free-flying flock's of BG, the next time I see any it'll be as well to bear this in mind.