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Canada Goose flying behaviour.

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Old Friday 10th August 2018, 11:05   #1
RichieTwitchy
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Canada Goose flying behaviour.

Hi all

I was at Lunt reserve in the UK watching the many birds when I noticed a behaviour I hadn't noticed before - and it happened several times.

As flocks of Canada Geese came in to land on the water some of them would suddenly tilt their wings into what seemed like an aggressive manoeuvre and turned into the flock and back out again in a millisecond.

The sound of this 'manoeuvre' was loud (the sound of the air rushing through their wings - they didn't make a call) and also, I have to say, exciting!

It seemed to me that it was either an aggressive action/an act of dominance or possibly juvenile posturing (?) because, to be honest, it reminded me of teenagers showing off when they're skateboarding or riding their bikes and doing trick moves etc

Anyone got any info or thoughts on this behaviour?

thanks
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Old Friday 10th August 2018, 11:43   #2
Hauksen
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Hi Richie,

Quote:
Originally Posted by RichieTwitchy View Post
As flocks of Canada Geese came in to land on the water some of them would suddenly tilt their wings into what seemed like an aggressive manoeuvre and turned into the flock and back out again in a millisecond.
That sounds like the manoeuvre I've observed Bean Geese perform while coming in to land in big flocks. I think I've occasionally seen it done by other geese species too.

Does it involve flipping over on the back for a second?

It certainly is an intentional manoeuvre, but I have no idea what the purpose might be, if there is one.

I also once saw a Barnacle Goose doing to full 360 degree roll in a similar manner, but I'm not sure that was intentional as it was in a situation when the entire flock (of thousands) took flight.

Regards,

Henning
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Old Friday 10th August 2018, 11:50   #3
RichieTwitchy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hauksen View Post
Hi Richie,



That sounds like the manoeuvre I've observed Bean Geese perform while coming in to land in big flocks. I think I've occasionally seen it done by other geese species too.

Does it involve flipping over on the back for a second?

It certainly is an intentional manoeuvre, but I have no idea what the purpose might be, if there is one.

I also once saw a Barnacle Goose doing to full 360 degree roll in a similar manner, but I'm not sure that was intentional as it was in a situation when the entire flock (of thousands) took flight.

Regards,

Henning
Hi Henning

I never witnessed any of them flipping onto their backs, but some went fully 90 degrees before returning to their 'natural' flight.

It certainly would be interesting to find out what this 'display' means - it was great to witness
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Old Friday 10th August 2018, 12:00   #4
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It's called "whiffling". They do this to lose height quickly, sort of a last second avionics adjustment, so that they don't overshoot where they were intending to land and also avoid any possible avian predator I'm told. Once I was educated about this I used to look out for it when the wintering pinkfeet arrived in North Norfolk and was surprised at just how common this action is

Last edited by PYRTLE : Friday 10th August 2018 at 12:40. Reason: Correct spelling
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Old Friday 10th August 2018, 12:16   #5
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Have a look at some of artist James McCallum's wintering geese studies. They show this action quite clearly, usually 90 degrees left or right, but also always keeping the head in the same plane.

Last edited by PYRTLE : Friday 10th August 2018 at 12:24. Reason: Spelling
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Old Friday 10th August 2018, 12:44   #6
RichieTwitchy
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Thanks for that PYRTLE

Whiffling eh? Well, that's certainly a new word for me

I'll check out that artist James McCallum's work, thanks.

When I did a quick google search they showed links to youtube videos and the first actually shows Henning's experience with this phenomena - the third shows some of mine with Canada Goose.

I'm definitely going to shoot some video of it if I experience it again - -and I have enough battery power

cheers
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Old Friday 10th August 2018, 13:13   #7
Hauksen
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Hi Pyrtle,

Quote:
Originally Posted by PYRTLE View Post
It's called "whiffling". They do this to lose height quickly, sort of a last second avionics adjustment, so that they don't overshoot where they were intending to land
Thanks a lot, that's quite fascinating!

One of the few manoeuvres birds pull off which has no direct parallel in human aviation. Imagine the passengers' screams! ;-)

Regards,

Henning
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Old Friday 10th August 2018, 14:26   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hauksen View Post
Hi Pyrtle,



Thanks a lot, that's quite fascinating!

One of the few manoeuvres birds pull off which has no direct parallel in human aviation. Imagine the passengers' screams! ;-)

Regards,

Henning
In human aviation it is called a sideslip but is not generally used in commercial aviation for precisely the reason you suggest

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Old Friday 10th August 2018, 16:37   #9
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Hi John,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Farnboro John View Post
In human aviation it is called a sideslip but is not generally used in commercial aviation for precisely the reason you suggest
I'm well aware of side-slipping, but what I've seen the geese do is more like a couple of flick rolls. It might be that they pull very hard turns at high speed between the rolls to bleed speed, if the purpose really is to dissipate kinetic energy.

Probably some good slow-motion videos would reveal more :-)

Here some photos from my archive ... this is a sequence of three shots:

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This is a single shot showing an inverted goose at the top left corner:

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I actually converted the sequence leading up to that shot into an animated GIF, but can't upload it here because of the file size limit. The goose came up in a climb at the same forward speed as the other geese in the flock, but climbing much more steeply.

Regards,

Henning
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Old Friday 10th August 2018, 17:14   #10
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Hi John,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Farnboro John View Post
In human aviation it is called a sideslip but is not generally used in commercial aviation for precisely the reason you suggest
As you're into human aviation too: Do you think "whiffing" might be an adaption of "VIFFing"?

For the benefit of non-aviation buffs, this is a buzzword standing for "vectoring in forward flight", applied to some special manoeuvres the vertical take-off jet fighter Hawker Harrier could perform by tilting its engines off the line of flight while going at a fairly high speed. (Tilting of the engines had originally been thought to be relevant only at low speeds, and when hovering.)

Regards,

Henning
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Old Friday 10th August 2018, 17:40   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hauksen View Post
Hi John,



As you're into human aviation too: Do you think "whiffing" might be an adaption of "VIFFing"?

For the benefit of non-aviation buffs, this is a buzzword standing for "vectoring in forward flight", applied to some special manoeuvres the vertical take-off jet fighter Hawker Harrier could perform by tilting its engines off the line of flight while going at a fairly high speed. (Tilting of the engines had originally been thought to be relevant only at low speeds, and when hovering.)

Regards,

Henning
Interesting association, but no: whiffling (note the "L") is a term that was used well before Harrier pilots began VIFFing - which the USMC normally claim they invented. The OED puts its origin in the 16th Century, pre-dating the invention of the USA let alone the USMC.

Whiffing is something different, and to be avoided.

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Old Saturday 11th August 2018, 00:39   #12
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Hi John,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Farnboro John View Post
Interesting association, but no: whiffling (note the "L") is a term that was used well before Harrier pilots began VIFFing - which the USMC normally claim they invented. The OED puts its origin in the 16th Century, pre-dating the invention of the USA let alone the USMC.
Oops, you're right of course:

https://www.etymonline.com/word/whiffle

The German author Kurt Tucholsky once wrote an article in which he lamented the lack of a word in the German language to describe the movement of birch leaves in the wind. Would "whiffle" work for that in English?

This association was invoked by the mention of falling leaves in the Wikipedia article, though Tucholsky was thinking of leaves still on the tree.

(Not that I think whiffling geese really resemble falling leaves!)

Regards,

Henning
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Old Saturday 11th August 2018, 11:43   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PYRTLE View Post
It's called "whiffling".
I've also come across it referred to as "spilling air".
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Old Saturday 11th August 2018, 21:22   #14
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I thought the word 'whiffling' was originally coined by none other a birding legend than Sir Peter Scott.
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Old Sunday 12th August 2018, 08:51   #15
Farnboro John
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I thought the word 'whiffling' was originally coined by none other a birding legend than Sir Peter Scott.
No, its much older than that.

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Old Sunday 12th August 2018, 15:08   #16
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No, its much older than that.

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Peter Scott was around a long time ago!
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Old Sunday 12th August 2018, 15:30   #17
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Peter Scott was around a long time ago!
I thought belatedly that I should have written EVEN older than that!

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Old Wednesday 15th August 2018, 17:37   #18
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Didn't manage to get any video - had issues with my memory card - but did manage to photograph a few birds as they flocked in.

All the photos are taken on a horizontal plane!

Whiffling eh? Amazing!
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Old Wednesday 15th August 2018, 18:07   #19
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Hi Richie,

Quote:
Originally Posted by RichieTwitchy View Post
All the photos are taken on a horizontal plane!
Great shots, thanks a lot for sharing! And imporant information on orientation, the manoeuvres are really extreme :-)

Regards,

Henning
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Old Wednesday 15th August 2018, 18:55   #20
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Originally Posted by RichieTwitchy View Post
Didn't manage to get any video - had issues with my memory card - but did manage to photograph a few birds as they flocked in.

All the photos are taken on a horizontal plane!

Whiffling eh? Amazing!
Wonderful series of shots thanks for posting them. . ..
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