Pink-footed Goose, Rochdale Canal SSSI, Greater Manchester
(Photo thanks to Howard Wilkinson Photography)
The highlights of a great winter for rare and scarce geese in Greater Manchester include a Richardson’s Cackling Goose, Greenland White-fronted Goose, Brent Goose, Barnacle Geese and Pink-footed Geese.
The Richardson’s Cackling Goose was present at Lightshaw Meadows and Pennington Flash and might still be present in Greater Manchester somewhere with a Canada Goose flock. This is potentially a first for Greater Manchester. It was first recorded on 2nd February 2021 at the Lightshaw Meadows Lancashire Wildlife Trust nature reserve and on Sunday 7th February it gave birders a unique opportunity to photograph this mega rare bird at close range and learn more about the subtle identification features.
A few lucky birders managed to see a very elusive Greenland White-fronted Goose in early December 2020 on the mosslands on the Cheshire / Greater Manchester border with a flock of Pink-footed Geese. Decent numbers of this species were present on the mosslands in the winter, especially on the Lancashire Wildlife Trust nature reserve, Little Woolden Moss.
A Pink-footed Goose seems to have been present in the Rochdale borough for most of the winter, first being reported in December 2020 at Slattocks on the Rochdale Canal and still present on 4th April. Sightings of probably the same bird in the Piethorne Valley and Hollingworth Lake in January and in flight at Hough Farm, Oldham on 2nd April. A Pink-footed Goose was present near Dunkirk Pond on Tameside on 31st January. A dark-bellied Brent Goose was present on Hollingworth Lake 3rd-5th March.
Four Barnacle Geese flew in from the north at Elton Reservoir on 14th October 2020. These birds were only seen in flight so it wasn’t possible to see if any of these birds were ringed. A Barnacle Goose on Roman Lakes, Marple, on 22nd March might be the same bird that was first reported on-site on 18th January 2011 – could it be celebrating it’s 10 year anniversary at this picturesque site in the Stockport borough ?
There is still time for one or two more Spring surprises… perhaps a twitchable European White-fronted Goose ?
Rare bird species sighted in Rochdale borough
Rare sighting sends Rochdale birdwatchers on wild goose chase
Richardson’s Cackling Goose, Lightshaw Flash Lancashire Wildlife Trust nature reserve, 2nd February
Richardson’s Cackling Goose, Lightshaw Flash Lancashire Wildlife Trust nature reserve, 3rd February 2021
Richardson’s Cackling Goose, Pennington Flash Country Park, 7th February 2021
Greenland White-fronted Goose on the mosses
Pink-footed Geese on the mosses