I doubt many people like going back to work, but one good thing about my place of work is that I get to walk round the lake at the Heslington Campus of The University of York.
I’ve actually known this lake since I was very young, as we used to walk from my Gran’s house to the uni and round the lake. There are always plenty of gulls, ducks and geese to be seen. On my first day back (Monday 6th) there was a treat in the form of a female Goosander:
The above isn’t the bird in question, just an old photo I happen to have. I didn’t have a camera with me, and hate using my phone for photos. Looking at the University wildlife recording site, I missed out as there were 25 there a few days previously.
There was another bird there that leapt out, in with a bunch of Greylag geese. And this time I had to relent and take a terrible phone-photo.
It’s a terrible photo, but you can hopefully make it out behind the gull. If it was among a group of Canada Geese I’d probably have given it no thought. But with the Greylags it really stood out. Patterned like a Canada, but lighter. But a pale pink bill where a Canada has a black bill. Very odd.
After much perusing of bird books at home I was stumped. Only one option really seemed likely, and that was a hybrid. A bird with a Greylag parent, and a Canada parent. I had a search on the internet and found a great website, Go Birding, that had a section dedicated to hybrid geese. There was a whole section of Canada/Greylag hybrids. That confirmed my suspicion.
So there we have it. The mystery bird was Greylag Goose x Canada Goose Anser anser x Branta canadensis
I’ll take my camera on the next good day and see if I can find it again.
If you ever want to see Snow Geese up close, the Heslington lake is a great spot for them too.