At around 4 o'clock this evening, while manning my station for the Winter
Raptor Survey at the Coxsackie Flats I scanned through a large group (1,200
- 1,500 birds) of Canada Geese in a harvested cornfield on a short dead-end
road: Barrus Road - which begins at the southern end of Bronk (same family
as The Bronx) Mill Road and Old Plank Road (County Rt 9).

I spotted a mid-sized uniformly dark sooty-brown goose with a pale
horizontal stripe along the flanks and silvery edges to the folded wing
feathers. It had no white features on the head or neck and a smallish dark
bill - a Pink-footed Goose.

The goose was about 360 ft. (110m) to the east of the road, actively
feeding on scattered corn cobs along with the Canada Geese and one Cackling
Goose. I watched it for about 15-20 minutes, easily picking it out again
anytime after I had lost track of.

There is a small group of mobile homes along a short spur off Barrus Road
and two other houses along the road. The house directly across (west) from
the cornfield has a high fence around it, presumably to keep the two large
dogs in. The dogs are very noisy if anyone is walking along the road but
otherwise very friendly (at least when the homeowner is present). When I've
met the homeowner in the past, I've found him to be very friendly and
interested in my bird work that I've been doing. But those dogs....

I remained in my car as I was observing the geese since the nearest Canada
Geese were very agitated. I was afraid that if I got out the whole bunch
would lift off taking the Pink-footed Goose along with them. Because of
roadside shrubbery, I could not get a clear photo of the goose. All the
geese were still there when I went up the road to turn around and leave.

I suspect that the geese come into that cornfield to feed and roost for the
night. I don't know for sure, but I believe they all go over to the nearby
correctional facility grounds where there are some - restricted access -
fields and ponds. A large group of geese flew in at around 4 o'clock. I
can't say whether the Pink-footed Goose was already in the field by then or
if it came in with that bunch.

In winters past, large groups of Canada Geese would first go from the
correctional complex fields down to the Hudson River at the Coxsackie Boat
Launch Park to hang out for a while before going to their night roost. This
has not been happening this season so far, perhaps because hunting season
is still open.

Bottom Line: I suspect that it will be difficult to see this goose, if it
does return to that field, unless you stay in your car and hope that none
of the few neighbors inadvertently disturbs the larger flock of Canada
Geese. But I also believe that if everyone stays in their cars, all will be
good. Let's just hope that the Pink-footed Goose returns.

Rich Guthrie
New Baltimore
Richard Guthrie


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