Friday, January 30, 2015

Bird of the Day: Greater White-fronted Geese at the San Joaquin National Wildlife Refuge

Winter is marching on, and the winter migrants are having to work harder at finding food in the refuges here in the Great Valley. The Beckwith Road viewing platform at the edge of the San Joaquin National Wildlife Refuge has been a bit quieter of late as the birds have consumed much of the corn and other foods in the vicinity, according to a FWS manager I communicated with recently. I was able to get some nice shots of the Sandhill Cranes the other day because they were foraging a bit closer to the road which they avoided in previous weeks because plenty of food was available in more remote locations. Because we had some early heavy rains this fall, and fog ever since, I'm hopeful that the growth of grasses and marsh plants will be sufficient to give the birds enough energy to begin their northern migrations in a few weeks.

There were several other bird species hanging out with the cranes, including a few dozen Greater White-fronted Geese (Anser albifrons). These geese have one of the widest ranges in the world, being known from Europe, Russia and northern Asia, Greenland, and northern Canada. In North America, they have a divergent range, including the summer breeding grounds on the North Slope of Alaska and Canada, and wintering grounds along the Pacific Coast, and on the Texas plains leading into Mexico.

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