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Another Mystery

August 2, 2012

Learned Birders! While on my fabulous Scandinavian adventures, I encountered some waterfowl I hadn’t seen before. Can anybody ID this fabulously regal looking duck goose?

If you’d like to see different angles of this bird, or are curious about her ducklings goslings, let me know and I’ll post more photos of said wonder. If I were a more talented photographer, we’d be able to play this guessing game much more often. Alas, birds are too quick for me and my unprofessional camera. By the time I zoom in, the bird in question has long grown tired of posing and I’m left with a photo of a couple leaves or a pine cone. Anyhow, this duck Barnacle Goose (thank you Rick!) cooperated, and I have about a dozen pictures of her (him?). Photo taken in Stockholm, not far from the Museum of Modern art, where I was thrilled to see a replica of Tatlin’s Monument to the Third Communist International and slightly mystified by a curious installation that seemed to consist of a giant fishbowl full of mud that gurgled. Afterwards, we had a picnic which consisted of exquisite cardamom buns next to what looked like a theatre, I forgot about the mud-art, and life felt complete.

In other, slightly more birdful news, I also saw dozens of Magpies in Norway and Sweden! I wonder if they were the same ones I befriended in Banff last October. And I also managed to ID a Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba), of which we saw about a million, but which my camera was too slow to capture. I’ll spare you the closeups of gravel, blue sky, leaves, grass and wood. Here’s the real thing:

Photo by Mike Read, from here.

I’d love to tell you that I managed to ID this wondrous creature on my own, using nothing but my ingenuity and superior birding prowess, but I won’t lie to you, faithful readers. It turns out that the Pied Wagtail is one of Sweden’s most common birds and it appeared, in the form of a wooden replica, complete with English (!) name and Latin binomial, in every single tourist shop we visited. I think I vote Sweden not the world’s most birder-friendly country ever. By the way, the Swedes call the bird an Engelsk sädesärla.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 2, 2012 2:04 pm

    This is the Barnacle Goose, that creature we all learned about in school in demonstration of the ignorance of the medievals. What they don’t tell you–or at least what they didn’t tell me–is that the first empirical test of the theory that the goose arose from barnacles was conducted in the early 13th century. (Predictably enough, it didn’t work.)

  2. August 2, 2012 2:05 pm

    By the way, goose vs duck: geese like this one have longer necks, smaller heads, and higher bills than ducks.

    • August 2, 2012 6:04 pm

      Rick! Thank you! What would I do without your comments… (well, I guess I’d continue to confuse ducks and geese, that’s what!)

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