After another disappointing visit to Castle Howard yesterday morning, whereby the highlight was covering the car in mud, a gratefully-received text from Russ Slack lightened my mood as it proclaimed he had found 2 Tundra Bean Geese in a field near Elvington, with 2 Pink-feet and a White-front.
After lunch, we headed up there to find a huge goose flock feeding in winter wheat near the waterworks. I soon picked up a family group of White-fronts in the nearest Greylags -nice - and then more. So, some more birds had arrived! Two birds sleeping at the back of the field looked good for the Tundras, but they were facing me, so I could not be sure. I continued to scan, picking up two Pink-footed Geese and two Egyptian Geese among the hordes of Greylags and Canadas. Failing to find any more likely candidates, I switched my attention back to the original suspects. After a few minutes, one bird suddenly stood up, revealing smart white edgings to tertials and scaps, a fairly long orange bill and best of all, bright orange legs. It's mate woke up too and soon the pair started to wander about grazing the crop. It was really interesting to compare these Tundras to the Taigas which in the last few years I have become far more familiar with. The birds were clearly smaller and shorter-necked, with smaller bills. Altogether the appearance was of a dark, brown Pink-footed Goose, with orange bare parts, and browner plumage, with the white fringing to the upperparts being quite distinctive. Certainly nothing like the big, bulky, long-necked Taigas of the Yare Valley. So the total count was c300 Greylags, 100 Canadas, 2 Tundra Bean, 2 Pink-footed 13 White-fronted Geese and 2 Egyptian Geese.
Below: Tundra Bean Geese (top) and White-fronts.