Ross's Goose at Watkins (Thorn) Lake, Jackson Co. - October 26

Allen Chartier amazilia1 at
Tue Oct 26 17:18:14 EDT 2004


This morning I spent almost two hours (~10:00 - 12:00) studying and
digiscoping the Ross's Goose that was originally reported more than a week
ago at Thorn Lake, Jackson County, and which has proved somewhat elusive.
The bird spent most of the time sleeping at the far western end of the lake
about 1/4 mile away, so observations and photography were difficult.  It was
difficult to determine whether the bird had a limited "grin patch" or not.
One observer suggested that it had something there, and I observed a very
limited darkish area at the very base of the tomium, but not on most of the
bill.  I'd have to say that perhaps this was probably due to shadow.  The
size of the bird was even more difficult to work out.  It never approached
any Mallards for direct size comparison.  Also, there were definitely two
forms of Canada Goose (Giant and Interior) present, as well as a group of 8
Cackling Geese.  At least six neck-collared Interiors were seen (orange with
white letters).  It is possible, but just a guess, that up to half the ~1150
Canada Geese here were Interiors.  The Ross's never went near the Cackling
Geese.  It seemed to stay near a group of possibly mixed Giant and Interior
Canadas.  It appeared about 2/3 the size of most of the Canadas it came
near.  If these were Interiors, then the size is probably OK for Ross's.  If
they were Giants, perhaps the bird is too big.  Bill size and shape, head
and neck shape, all seemed fine for pure Ross's.  The primaries extended
significantly past the tail, which is supportive of Ross's.  There seemed to
be a very limited amount of bluish area at the base of the bill, probably
less than I've ever seen on a Ross's, but the facial feathering at the base
of the bill appeared to be perfectly vertical.  So, in summary, I personally
feel this is a good Ross's Goose, and not a Ross's X Snow Goose hybrid.
But, whether this bird makes it into the Michigan Bird Survey will be
determined by the review of the Michigan Bird Records Committee.

Other interesting birds on the lake included Pied-billed Grebe (4), Great
Egret (5), Rinb-necked Duck (1225), Canvasback (35), Lesser Scaup (25),
Hooded Merganser (11), Red-breasted Merganser (1), and Ruddy Duck (440).

To get to Thorn Lake from I-94, take M-52 south from Chelsea to Pleasant
Lake Road.  Turn right and go to the T-intersection with Sharon Hollow Road
and turn left.  Follow Sharon Hollow Road through a small jog, left then
right, to Herman Road (about a mile past Austin Road, which comes out of
Manchester).  Turn right on Herman Road and follow it to the Jackson County
line where the road jogs right and becomes Horning Road.  Go about 1/4 mile
to Arnold Road and turn right.  Arnold Road goes north up through the center
of Watkins (Thorn) Lake.

Allen Chartier
amazilia1 at
1442 West River Park Drive
Inkster, MI  48141
Michigan HummerNet:

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