Ross's Goose x Barnacle Goose Anser rossii (or Chen rossii) x Branta leucopsis

Snow Goose x Barnacle Goose Anser caerulescens (or Chen caerulescens) x Branta leucopsis

Separation of Ross's x Barnacle Goose from Snow x Barnacle Goose can be very difficult. Overall size and structure of the bird can be an indicator, as can the size and structure of the bill, but a certain ID is perhaps not always possible.

The first bird shown below has apparently been in with the feral Barnacle Geese for several years. When I first saw it I was reasonably confident it was Snow Goose x Barnacle Goose as it looked much like the Ross's x Barnacle hybrids I had seen previously, but was significantly bigger. Although some Ross's x Barnacle hybrids are bigger than Barnacle Geese this bird seemed more significantly so. But on further reflection and a repeat viewing I am not quite so certain. The bill is not as obviously large as one might expect on Snow x Barnacle, the 'grinning patch' is indistinct and the neck is short. I am beginning to wonder whether it might in fact be a large Ross's Goose x Barnacle Goose hybrid instead.

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possible Snow Goose x Barnacle Goose hybrid (or a large Ross's Goose x Barnacle Goose hybrid), Buckenham (Norfolk, UK), 1st January 2010

 

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possible Snow Goose x Barnacle Goose hybrid (or a large Ross's Goose x Barnacle Goose hybrid), Buckenham (Norfolk, UK), 2nd Januiary 2012

 

Most of the remaining birds on this page appear to be Ross's Goose x Barnacle Goose, though this isn't proven. For reasons unknown to me feral Ross's Geese and feral Barnacle Geese seem to enjoy each other's company over other feral geese, and some of the birds shown here were among mixed flocks of Ross's and Barnacle Geese.

These two were among a flock of 13 feral Barnacle Geese and 2 feral Ross's Geese. The first four photos show one bird and the second four show the second bird.

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presumed Ross's Goose x Barnacle Goose hybrids, Snettisham (Norfolk, UK), 17th March 2009

I first saw the next bird among a flock of Canada Geese that had for a year or two also contained a Snow Goose. But it soon became apparent that this was not a Snow Goose x Canada Goose, but fitted Ross's x Barnacle much better. Subsequently the bird switched flock and began to accompany a Ross's Goose and 3 Barnacle Geese. Its size appears similar to the adult Barnacles (the smaller Barnacle in some of the photos is a juvenile).

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probable Ross's Goose x Barnacle Goose hybrid, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 4th December 2010

 

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probable Ross's Goose x Barnacle Goose hybrid, Cley (Norfolk, UK), 3rd January 2011

 

The following two birds among feral Barnacle Geese at a location close to the above bird seemed even more Barnacle-like, but I can't think what they are if they're not also Ross's x Barnacle. Maybe they could be second generation backcrossed with Barnacle (with the above bird as parent perhaps - it did end up at this site)? Obviously that would require Ross's x Barnacle to be a fertile cross, which I suspect they might not be (most intra-generic hybrids seem not to be fertile).

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probable Ross's Goose x Barnacle Goose hybrids (with Barnacle Geese), Bayfield Lake (Norfolk, UK), 25th January 2014

I discovered a new bird among Pink-footed Geese in January 2011 that was superficially similar to the bird that is now believed to be Ross's Goose x Emperor Goose that was around for several winters, but this one was much smaller, had a darker mantle, whiter neck and, possibly, duller bill. Although different from any of the individuals above, the smooth dark plumage seems to approach Ross's x Barnacle types more than the very clearly scaled pattern of the Ross's x Emperor. It has rather a lot of white in the tail for a Branta hybrid though, and I'm not sure of the identity, although shall be surprised if Ross's Goose isn't half-responsible.

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probable Ross's Goose hybrid, between Amner and Shernborne (Norfolk, UK), 9th January 2011

 

probable Ross's Goose hybrid, between Amner and Shernborne (Norfolk, UK), 7th January 2011

I had assumed the following birds were captive birds as they were in a wildfowl collection, but the collection's owner has since assured me that they do not belong to him, are nothing to do with him, and just appeared there one day! They seem to be Ross's x Barnacle.

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probable Ross's Goose x Barnacle Goose hybrids, Blakeney Collection (Norfolk, UK), 12th February 2011 - the first four photos are one bird and the last six another bird

The next one was sleepy...

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probable Ross's Goose x Barnacle Goose hybrid, Cleethorpes Boating Lake (Lincolnshire, UK), 7th April 2012

This one was among Pink-footed Geese but 5 Barnacle Geese were never far away.

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probable Ross's Goose x Barnacle Goose hybrid (with Pink-footed and Barnacle Geese), Burnham Overy (Norfolk, UK), 12th January 2013

This was perhaps the same bird, though I hadn't seen it there for a while.

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Ross's Goose x Barnacle Goose hybrid (with Barnacle Goose), Burnham Overy (Norfolk, UK), 19th December 2015

Finally a distant bird poorly photographed: this bird was keeping close company with a Lesser Whtie-fronted Goose.

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probable Ross's Goose x Barnacle Goose hybrid, Raynham Lake (Norfolk, UK), 2nd April 2012