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A Photogenic Shrike, a Ross's Goose, and a Eurasian Wigeon

Published March 21, 2014
Tags: General Observations, Tundra Swan, Mute Swan, Snow Goose, Ross's Goose, Eurasian Wigeon, American Wigeon, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Redhead, Canvasback, Bufflehead, American Coot, Eastern Bluebird, American Goldfinch, House Finch, Northern Shrike, American Kestrel, Red-tailed Hawk

I spent a little time up along the southern shore of Lake Ontario today, hitting a few "hot spots". I missed a few and got a few, coming home quite satisfied after a full day of birding.

One highlight was seeing a Northern Shrike at a fairly close range. I watched it hunt in a field by the lake shore for quite awhile, mesmerized by its tactics. Usually, they're pretty difficult to photograph for me so this opportunity was a real treat!

While photographing the shrike, some of the geese I had actually stopped to scan lifted from the lake. Their perfect V formation included a Ross's Goose!  Thanks to Brian Morse for passing along the info that the Ross's might be near this area - and also to Andy Guthrie for letting Brian know about it - plus his confirmation on the ID. 

I found it interesting that this one Ross's Goose is traveling around with all of these Canada Geese instead of the numerous migrating flocks of Snow Geese that I've seen.  I saw a flock of 70 Snow Geese fly overhead up near Braddock Bay this morning - and one would think the Ross's would be hanging with THOSE guys!

The Ross's Goose is very similar to the Snow Goose, however it's smaller, has a stubby bill, a rounder head, and lacks the "grin", a black line around the bill that makes the Snow Goose appear as though it's smiling.  The almost rare Ross's Goose is becoming a little more frequent in our area, however, they winter mainly in California. Its numbers are increasing, though, which is so nice to hear these days!

Before the shrike and goose, a report came out that a Eurasian Wigeon was seen up at Braddock Bay.  I was literally 15 minutes away, so I was happy to see that beautiful bird too. No photos, though, as it was pretty far out and my digi-scoping needs much improvement! 

I found a female American Kestrel on the way to the lake earlier in the day and she allowed me a few photos. Other birds seen were: Tundra Swans, Mute Swans, American Wigeon, Common Goldeneye, a Common Goldeneye and merganser hybrid (interesting!), White-winged Scoters, Long-tailed Ducks, Bufflehead, Redhead, Canvasback, Scaup, American Coot, American Black Duck, Mallard, Red-tailed Hawk, Eastern Bluebirds, American Goldfinch, House Finches, and Red-winged Blackbird.
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Northern Shrike
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Northern Shrike
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Northern Shrike
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Northern Shrike
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Northern Shrike
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American Kestrel seen earlier in the day
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Canada Geese and the one Ross's Goose in formation
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Close-up of the Ross's Goose. NOTE the small size of the goose, the stubby bill, and the lack of the black "grin" on the bill, differentiating it from a Snow Goose