Sunday, January 09, 2011

Cackling Goose on the Raritan

Since prolonged cold temperatures have frozen still water (and some ponds in Johnson Park have been drained), many of the Canada Geese in the area have been pushed to roost in the moving waters of the Raritan River rather than their favorite ponds. Yesterday about 2500 Canada Geese were spread out along the Raritan upstream from the Landing Lane bridge. In that flock I found at least two Cackling Geese; one of them is pictured above. It has the classic blocky head, short bill, and grayish brown breast of the Richardson's subspecies. Plus it has a partial white collar and is clearly smaller than the surrounding Canada Geese.

The Canada Geese on the river, especially those who were separated from the densest flocks, had a hard time with the ice. As they rested, the water froze around them. Each goose had to struggle a bit to get out of the water and onto the ice. Many of them had frosted or ice-covered feathers.

Other waterfowl on the river included Black Ducks, Greater Scaup, Ring-necked Ducks, Common Goldeneye, Buffleheads, and Common Mergansers.