In mid-to-late fall, V-shaped formations of migrating Canada Geese soar overhead as their distinctive honking cuts through the air. Occasionally, these migrating birds land on our lagoon for a rest, but truth be told, it can be hard to tell the difference between the traditional migratory birds and the resident flocks that increasingly stay year-round. The population of resident geese has ballooned in recent decades and, as any golfer knows, they can make quite a mess. Here in mid winter there are two additional goose species we might see and both are more interesting and less bothersome than the resident Canada Geese.
Brandts are a delightful goose that is smaller than the Canada Goose and significantly less messy. Brandts are often seen along the ocean shoreline and, at times, in the salt ponds, where they feed on aquatic vegetation such as eelgrass. Brandt nesting takes place in the tundra, and our Rhode Island shore is at the southern end of their range.
Another fun visitor is the Snow Goose. Snow Geese are much more common in the upper Midwest and are a bit of a rarity here on the New England coastline. Nevertheless, each season we usually see a few wayward birds, often mixed in with flocks of Canada Geese.
Regardless of the variety of goose, this time of year they are all feeding heavily and getting as fat as they can before the deep freeze of winter sets in.