Cackling Canada Goose in Devon

 Love it- a Wild ‘Ridgway’s’ Canada Goose in Britain!

I love this stuff. Really! Matt Knott emailed a while back to say he found this bird on 27th September 2015 on his local patch on the Exe Estuary in Devon. I am just slow! The bird arrived with and was clearly part of the large flock of several hundred Dark-bellied Brent Geese. The Brent come from Central Siberia. 

If you interested in seeing wild vagrant geese- you should go see this one!

So the big question. Is this a wild bird, from Alaska. To me this is  ‘no-brainer’. The case for this being a wild bird is much easier for me to make, than it be an escaped captive reared bird.

I could wax lyrical. I would have drawn a map just like Matt’s. It’s a highly likely scenario.

I think at least 1-2 birds which appeared at Caerlaverock WWT in 2009, with Barnacle Geese also fit a wild Cackling Goose bill. So enjoy the pics and the map and believe in birds! 🙂

Check out Dave Boult’s lovely video of the bird. Click HERE


Huge thanks to Chris Townend for the beautiful photos below.

unnamed 6 unnamed 8 unnamed 9All photos above by Chris Townend– with thanks.
unnamed 12


BELOW: Tristan Reid’s beautiful photo of one of the ‘wild’ Cackling Canada’s at Caerlaverock back in 2009.



Helpfully as ever Richard Klim highlighter the correct spelling of Ridgway. More HERE

5 thoughts on “Cackling Canada Goose in Devon

  1. Lars Per Norgren

    Does the BOU not recognize Cacklers as a full species? We just call them “Cackling Geese”. And for some folks, minima is “True” Cackler. Brent sometimes occur as vagrants in inland locations in Oregon, always in flocks of Cacklers. B.h.minima was down to 20k individuals in the early 70s. There may be ten times that many now, and they all winter in Oregon. They previously wintered exclusively in California. Aleutian Cackling Geese were almost extinct in 1970. They now number 100,000 thanks to removal of foxes from their breeding grounds.

    1. Martin Garner Post author

      The first Cackler’s (broad sense of large versus small Canada Geese) are in process of being accepted

  2. Matt Knott

    Hi Brett – ‘Ogilvie and Young’ gives minima L 56 – 63cm and brent L56 – 61cm with minima WS 115 – 123cm and brent 110 – 120cm, and states it’s ‘rather long-legged and quite long-winged for its size’. The bird is noticeably long-legged alongside brents but in the field appears pretty much the same size as brents. In flight, it doesn’t stand out as being noticeably bigger than the brents although I can see what you mean looking at Chris’s photos. Dave Boult’s two videos on youtube show the bird alongside brents, both on the deck and in flight and are well worth a look.


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