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  • Writer's pictureGregg Severson

Gawking for a Greater White-fronted Goose

After that big biking weekend, I was hoping to have a rest day and not have to bike a long way. I biked and bussed to work, totaling 10 miles of biking. But then there was a rarity that popped up quite close to home! A Greater White-fronted Goose (GWFG) had been seen at Powderhorn Park, which is just about 2 miles from home! I didn't have many details about the sighting, and had heard that some birders had gone looking for it and hadn't seen it. But it was an easy decision to go, especially since there was a fire-dancing performance at Powderhorn that night, that Kellie and I already wanted to check out.

We went over to the park, took a look at the lake, and saw no sign of a GWFG. So, we headed over to the performance area. We saw the fire dancers do one complete run-through of their routine without fire, and then once again with fire! They were doing an audition video for Burning Man and so wanted to practice first, and then do two full fiery performances to get good video.

Fire dancers at Powerderhorn Park
Northern Fire Dynamic at Powerderhorn Park

After we saw the first performance, we decided to check out the lake again. We walked down there and saw no unusual geese (or ducks) - just the usual suspects of Canada Geese, Mallards, and Wood Ducks. But then, I spotted something unusual out on the island in the middle of the lake, taking a nap. It was the Greater White-fronted Goose! I quickly texted Ise Varghese, who lives nearby and had told me he hadn't seen the goose earlier that day and then got to taking some documentation shots. Ise showed up in about 5 seconds (he must live really nearby), and he got on the bird too.

View of the back end of a sleeping Greater White-fronted Goose at the base of a tree on an island
This was my view when I originally spotted the goose.

Somewhat better image of a Greater White-fronted Goose (this one is identifiable from the image)
But then we changed angles a bit and watched for a while to get this view when the goose raised its head

Greater White-fronted Goose vignetted on the water with cottonwood seeds on the water surface
I returned a couple of days later and got this better pic of the GWFG

You'll recall that Greater White-fronted Geese were one of the species I was hoping for back in March when I did a skywatch from the my roof. GFWG pass through Minnesota in some numbers early in the year, but the breed up in the arctic, so there are not usually any around in June! This one decided to stay behind this year and it was just my luck that it happened to like Powderhorn Park for a few days in June!

Miles biked on this trip: 14.6

Miles biked year to date: 1200.6

Species count: 202

My bike birding eBird profile: (Please note that you need a free eBird account to see profiles in eBird)

Fundraising links for the two organizations I am supporting with this green big half year. These causes are really important and they could really use your dollars to do a lot of good!

Friends of Sax-Zim Bog:

National MS Society:

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