There were reports of a Ross’s goose, a real rarity in northcentral Pennsylvania, feeding in cornfields with a flock of Canada geese. Ross’s geese breed on the tundra of far northern Canada and winter in the southern Great Plains, the Gulf coast and California but are seldom seen in this area.
This was too good a sighting to pass up so off we went in search of the goose. We drove a local road through the large cornfields along the Susquehanna River east of Lock Haven – no geese to be seen. But there’s another road that follows the river for a short way just off the riverbank, so we tried that. Trees and Japanese knotweed grow between the road and river but there were gaps through which the far-distant bank was visible.
It was through those gaps that we could see hundreds and hundreds of Canada geese and H saw a couple of white birds landing. Those turned out to be a pair of snow geese, but near them was another white goose – smaller, with a small beak that was blueish-gray toward the base. The Ross’s goose!
The snow geese soon left and the Ross’s goose moved along the shore. It preened and stretched its wings as I took photos, none of which were good due to the distance –
We watched it for quite a while in hopes that it might cross the river to our side as some of the Canada geese were doing, but it showed no sign of doing so. Tiring of the wait, we decided to take a leisurely ride home and check a bald eagle nest for any sign of activity.
No eagles, but on the far side of another valley we saw a common raven land in a tree. It payed us no mind when we stopped; out came the camera to rest on a beanbag placed on the car’s window ledge. The raven was feeding on something, holding it between its feet as it pulled off pieces to swallow.
After a short while it flew to another tree carrying a yellowish object in its beak; that yellow object was an apple. The bird placed its treasure in the crotch of a branch – ravens frequently cache food and have been known to use objects as tools. They’re among the most intelligent of birds and there’s some evidence that their intellect is comparable to that of dogs. Then it alerted as another raven flew over, took its apple and flew off –
Thus ended an interesting day.