Canada Goose (Greater Canada Goose) Branta canadensis
Canada Geese have recently been split into two species. The BOU include the larger forms (canadensis, fulva, interior, maxima, moffitti, occidentalis and parvipes) as races of 'Greater Canada Goose' and the smaller forms (hutchinsii, leucopareia, minima and taverneri) as races of 'Cackling Goose' (sometimes known as Lesser Canada Goose). Confusingly the term 'Cackling Goose' has previously been used to refer only to the race minima, while 'Lesser Canada Goose' is often used for the race parvipes which BOU includes under Greater Canada Goose! It is no exaggeration to say that the Canada Goose complex is a mess in terms of taxonomy, nomenclature and identification. David Sibley has written a useful article on their identification.
Wild Canada Geese from North America are now identified in the UK every winter. Some photos of such birds appear at the bottom of this page. First are some photos of feral birds - these are thought to be closest to the race maxima but may not be pure examples of this form.
The following individual, presumably relating to a wild vagrant, was considered by some to be a Todd's Canada Goose Branta canadensis interior. Other observers believed it to belong to the race parvipes. In this photo the neck is contracted - in life it often appeared rather longer-necked than this photo suggests.
|Canada Goose (race interior or parvipes), N of Stanhoe (Norfolk, UK), 8th January 2004|
The next bird was reported as a Cackling Goose (race hutchinsii - Richardson's Canada Goose) when it was found the previous day, but upon review of his photos the finder apparently decided thgat it might in fact be Taverner's (race taverneri). When I saw it next day I only got brief views before the it was flushed by a Peregrine, and for most of the time its head was down. The brief views I got suggested it was on the large side for hutchinsii and the neck seemed a bit too long, so I supported the view that it could be taverneri. However my views were not conclusive at all and in hindsight I think it's very likely that it was the same bird that has subsequently been reported regularly in the Solway as a Todd's Canada Goose, race interior.
I assume it was the same bird present again next winter where I managed better views - and indeed it did appear to be a Todd's Canada Goose, race interior.
Todd's Canada Goose (with Barnacle Geese), Cardurnock (Cumbria, UK), 28th December 2013