On 11/17/08, I was birding on the southeast corner of Lake Walter F. George around the dam and George T. Bagby State
I found this BARNACLE GOOSE on the lake. The bird had no leg bands and exhibited wild behavior.
I was able to see it's legs clearly at one point, and there were no bands. Given behavior, plumage, time
of year, location, etc, etc, this woud appear to be a wild bird.
The bird flew off in alarm over the lake. I lost it as it went north. Yet, I am confident this bird can be
I've noticed that birds move a good bit there on the lake. I've seen birds at Florence Marina (way north of
the dam) that end up at the dam and vice versa.
Update: The bird was relocated on the AL side on 11/22/08 by other observers!
Update: As of Nov 30, the bird continues to be seen but not always. It moves around the area and travels
out onto the lake at times. Photos of the bird show no bands and the bird exhibits wild behavior according to witnesses.
It has been seen in congregation with Snow Geese.
Update: Dec 1, A claim was made that this was an escapee from a local farm. HOWEVER, when I called the owner
of the farm later the same day, he told me that that was NOT the case. Apparently, the person who insinuated this
had talked to the owner and misunderstood what he had said and that person immediately put the erroneous claim on the listserv.
If accepted this would be a first state record for GA, though AL may already have a record (Lake
WFG is on the GA/AL state line). (It appears that Tennessee has a record.)
I'm pretty sure AL birders, given their track record, will grasp the importance of this sighting, but I'm afraid
it may be dismissed prematurely by GA bird committees.
However, maybe not, in that the Eurasian Wigeon years back was not questioned, the Black-bellied Whistling Duck
at Huie was promulgated immediately to be wild...and those birds are common in captive collections.
Come to think of it, why should some birds get a free pass and others be dismissed immediately?
I think one should consider the exploding populations of the migrant geese including Ross's and others and even
Cackling or perhaps we should question them too.
The fact that Barnacle Goose is now a proven vagrant to the U.S. and is now being accepted by record committees
that once wouldn't, is enough to take any sighting seriously, and put it on the RBA, and most importantly not discount it
before it even gets off the ground.
As far as records go, it's no biggie. I just find, watch, and appreciate birds. I try to keep it
simple and enjoy the birds for the birds.