Lesser White-fronted Goose


With debate over the provenance and even identification of  a Lesser White-fronted Goose (with Taiga Bean Geese) in Norfolk, here’s a couple of hybrid Lesser White-fronted Geese which I’ve come across previously in the UK. One presumed wild and one not. Also a couple of presumed (and seemingly) normal Lesser White-fronts in captivity.

Adult Lesser White-fronted Goose in captivity. Martin Mere WWT. October

Rother Valley C.P. hybrid

The Rother Valley duo. Variously reported in the area over several years. I came across these 2 together  RVCP in October 2008. At greater distance the Lesser White-front type looks pretty convincing. dark squarish head, prominent yellow orbital ring, long-looking primaries, short pink bill and white blaze looking OK. Its only when you see it a bit closer that it just doesn’t quite look the ‘full shilling’. Bill a tad long, white blaze not quite right.Even then it can be hard to put a finger on exactly why. In a distant wild goose flock I could be fooled, I think.

Few more pics below from Oct. 2008

And what the heck are you? (I think he would like to be Blue Ross’s Goose- one day!)

Slimbridge hybrid Lesser White-front

I found this bird amoung the Russian White-fronts at Slimbridge on 15th February 2007 (It gets a mention in the ‘Frontiers in Birding book). It looked like a Lesser Whitefront on steroids! It was large but with big dark, squared head, reduced black belly streaked, prominent yellow orbital ring, steep shortish pink bill and more extensive white. Although only seen the once that winter, it had been seen the previous winter regularly by WWT and we had come to the same conclusion on the bird’s ID.

Captive adult Lesser White-fronted Goose, Martin Mere WWT, March 2005

4 thoughts on “Lesser White-fronted Goose

  1. binocularface

    Hi Martin,

    Interesting post – out of interest what size is the RVCP hybrid and what do you suspect the parentage is?

    I saw the Norfolk bird today and reckon it looks good for a pur LWFG!


  2. Martin Garner

    Hi Tris
    saw that you had been in Norfolk, sounds like you had a great time. Honestly I don’t know what parentage you would put on the RVCP goose. It has been around awhile, and I think it is probably still in the area- got reported from Renishaw Park, south Sheffield I think this autumn. I hope you agree it’s not a pure Lesser White-front! But it is scary- so I guess it’s come form some bad place where stuff interbreeds. X European Whitefront seems most obvious to me. It is small next to Grey lags but that’s about the best I can do on size- nothing really useful I am afraid.

    I think the same bird was seen in nearby places like Old Moor RSPB in September 2009- photo in Yorkshire Birding magazine is labelled

    “…showed many features of Lesser Whitefront being rather small, primaries projecting beyond tip of tail, generally dark on head and upperparts. It also sported a quite prominent yellow eye-ring and an extensive white blaze, which varied somewhat in posture. Although features pointed to LWFG, there was something not quite right about it particular the bill seemed a little too long…

    (the white forehead blaze has same shape on side as my photo of bird above)


    PS I believe you that the Norfolk bird looks better!

  3. Tristan Reid

    Hi Martin,

    It is certainly an interesting looking bird; though headshape and bill length are not right for LWFG IMHO. Interesting that it is small enough for LWFG; I wonder if it is a F2 hybrid? You would expect a 1st gen hybrid to show more characteristics of both parent wouldn’t you? All good stuff for the brain cells anyway!


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