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Easy Taiga - Slamannan dunk! (1 Viewer)

JWN Andrewes

Poor Judge of Pasta.
After several years of birding our way round the country we had reached the point that Taiga Bean Goose was the last relatively easily plannable bird Arch still needed, so a few weeks back I decided that, as the schools were going back a bit later than usual this Christmas, I would plan a trip to track some down. The question then was, Norfolk or Forth? A little bit of research indicated that the Norfolk flock had been dwindling over the years, with the Forth flock more or less maintaining numbers, so north it was, and I booked us a Travelodge near Edinburgh.

This turned out to be a good call, as so far as I can tell the Cantley/Buckenham birds have been MIA this winter. That being the case, if the Norfolk population is going to be henceforth at best unreliable and at worst no more, making the Slamannan birds the only gig in town, I thought I'd share how our trip panned out

I'd booked to stay overnight as my understanding was that the flock could range widely and often be out of sight, and I was determined to give it as good a shot as I could. As it happened though, at the first place we pulled up, in a large passing space down a side road heading west from Jawcraig, Arch quickly announced the presence of Geese, and we were in business.

It was quite early so the light was still rather murky, so it took a while to be happy about the ID, a necessary precaution as it turned out as there was a party of 11 Pink-footed Geese with the 82 Taiga Beans, so don't automatically assume the job's done just because you find Geese, particularly a small group! The Pink-feet kept themselves in a discrete clump slightly separate from, but alongside, the Beans, and it was good to be able to indulge in a bit of on-site comparison between the two, the former dinky looking with a slight grey sheen to the backs, the latter browner with nice long necks and hefty bills.

Unfortunately, the road we were on turned out to be private. We hadn't seen anything saying so, it's the road to the National Shooting Centre (and the sign said "visitors welcome" at the bottom, so we didn't feel like we were transgressing), and eventually a tweedy type in a passing Landrover very politely put us in the picture. We equally politely cooperated (don't want to sour birder/local relations) and repositioned to the public highway, where we found a small layby a little way back towards Slamannan from where we could scope the Geese.

Mission accomplished, once we'd studied them for good spell we headed off to have a crack at our other target, the long staying but erratic Ring-billed Gull at Strathclyde Loch. Unfortunately we drew a blank, with a three hour stake out before the rain intensified, followed by three more hours in better weather the following morning. No shortage of String-billed Gulls, but with four hours between us and home the real thing would have to wait for another time.


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The Geese were in the yellow circle. The red cross marks where we first saw the Geese from on the private road. We got just as good views from the blue cross, having parked at the green cross.


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Oh nice one!!! You had much better luck than we had on our Scottish Bash back in 2008. We did see some geese in the poor light, but they were Pink-foot I think (going from memory there).

They seem to have stayed very loyal to that area don't they.
I've seen these once out of maybe ten attempts and often found a lot of flocks of Pinkfeet in the area to confuse matters. Excellent job boys!


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