The Whitlingham Bird Report 2020 is available now (click here)

For previous years (2012-2019) see the links on the Whitlingham Bird List page.

Hybrid Geese revisited

Trawling through some old posts I noticed an interesting comment from this month about the small hybrid goose that periodically turns up at Whitlingham. The comment relates to the bird depicted in the top three photographs, which has been seen on-and-off since at least January 2008.


The little hybrid goose cannot be a cross between an Anser and a Branta species, as these generally have a mainly dark tail (and also often darker bills or bills with black blotches). This means with that brightly coloured bill and legs and a typical Anser geese tail it has to be a cross between two anser species. It shows a clear indication of Ross or Snow goose parentage with the white-rimmed tertials and secondaries. As the bill is very small, I´d favour Ross goose as one parent. The other then should also be a small-billed species, probably with a pink bill also. Lesser whitefront seems to fit here best, so the most likely explanation would be Ross goose x Lesser whitefronted goose."

If the person who added this comment reads this post, I would be grateful for your opinion of the hybrids shown in the other two photos, both from Whitlingham. Bird 4 looks similar to a bird seen at Swanton Morley by Dave Appleton (possible Lesser White-fronted x Barnacle) whilst the bird in photo 5 has a similar wing pattern to the first hybrid but a larger bill and overall size, perhaps Ross' Goose x Greylag? Any comments most welcome.

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