Saturday, January 07, 2012

Cackling Goose at Donaldson Park

On Thursday afternoon, I found a small goose among a flock of over 600 Canada Geese in Donaldson Park near the tennis courts. After watching it for a while I concluded that it was most likely a Cackling Goose based on a combination of features. Its bill was noticeably short compared to nearby Canada Geese, its head was fairly blocky, and its back and undersides were noticeably pale – almost grayish – compared to the nearby geese. This feature stood out more in person than in my photos. It was also small compared to the flock as a whole, though quite of the Canada Geese were smaller than average themselves.

When I returned to the park yesterday afternoon, the Cackling Goose was there again, this time in the field at the foot of Second Avenue.

A few other notable birds were also present in Donaldson Park on Friday afternoon. One was the American Pipit shown above, which flushed from the field at the foot of Second Avenue and landed in the nearby brush. Another was an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull that was among a huge gull flock (mostly Herring Gulls) between the park and Rutgers Boathouse. To cap things off, a Merlin flew by while I was walking at the other end of the park.