[This post completes the goose trip story I started in last Monday's Barnacle Goose post.] After finding four species of geese in under an hour, I was determined to find a fifth. Scanning through the assemblage of geese on the crowded city pond, I focused my attention on finding a Cackling Goose -- essentially a miniature Canada Goose (prior to a species split in 2004, they were lumped with Canada Geese).
I was still searching when local birder Bill Sheehan showed up around 1pm to enjoy a goose-filled lunch break. I showed Bill the GWFG and the continuing BARGs, and passed on word of the shy flock of 19 SNGOs that I'd seen earlier. Bill joined the search for a Cackling, but neither of us would spot one on Collins Pond that day. Before we parted ways, Bill assured me that the more silvery back color of a Cackling Goose would stand out and recommended a couple of other ponds that I could try. With renewed hope, I set off.
My next stop yielded nearly 1200 Canada Geese, but no apparent rarities (the geese were pretty distant, and I'm not sure I'd have been able to spot a Cackling Goose with confidence at that range). Limestone Pond was next, where I found another 1000+ Canada Geese to scan through.
On my second or third scan of the flock, I noticed a small, pale-backed goose with a very short neck and stubby bill -- my first Cackling Goose! I watched the bird for the next 15 minutes or so, until s/he took flight with a group of Canada Geese, presumably heading to a nearby field to feed before nightfall.
The following day, I returned to Collins Pond to observe another midday goose gathering. Again I saw four types of geese, but instead of a flyby flock of Snow Geese, I watched a Cackling Goose (clearly a different individual than I'd seen the day before in Limestone) drop in right after the pair of Barnacle Geese.