Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Life is good- for birders.

This morning I stopped by the Clearfork Reservoir in Mansfield, Ohio to look for a bird.  Not just any bird, but a very special, diminutive goose, one a trickster might be tempted to pass off as a duck.

Ross's Goose at Clearfork Reservoir, photo Cheryl Harner
Mid-morning I got word that a Ross's Goose had been seen at the reservoir.  Stopping on my way to work, I was unable to find the little guy.  Fortunately, birding is so much fun I barely even cared.  There were some lovely loons floating by and  I heard my first-of-the-year Brown Thrasher calling.

Blue skies and fair weather
Later, I found this photo of the sky on my camera.  It had been an accidental shot, but I kept it anyway. It reminds me just how beautiful it was today. Just me and the Brown Thrasher, who was boldly clucking and squawking. Every moment was a delight. 

So much so, it was worth making another stop- right after work. After all it couldn't hurt to check again.

 And there was the Ross's Goose, Chen rossii tucked right up next to the shore swimming with some Richardson-sized Canada/ Cackling Geese.  These are not the local golf course geese which waddle about consuming grass.  These sleek little beauties are built to fly, migrate in fact. By next week they will be back in the northern most reaches of Canada.  Our reservoir is nothing but a stopping point on their way "home".

Grazing geese,  Ross's and Canada.
 We gave them plenty of lee way, as they seemed interested in leaving the water to come ashore.  We backed off far enough that the little wanderers came right up on to the picnic area for a nibble.

The bill is quite tiny on this 23 inch goose.
Ross's Goose 
It is a sure sign that winter is finally over. Everyday for the next month or two is an opportunity to see different birds, as we never know what the winds will bring us. Yesterday we were chasing (and missing) a Tufted Duck. Today it was a slightly off course goose.  Ross's are rare in Ohio, and I have only seen a few others in my whole life. They are much more common to our west, as they generally migrate across Texas and up through the Dakotas.

Welcome spring and welcome little goose!  He will certainly be gone by tomorrow, continuing the trip north. He will soon meet up with many more of his kind, and the breeding season will begin.  

Life is good- for birds and the birders who love to watch them.

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