It has almost become a yearly ritual for me to go and see Goosanders at Painshill Park, that use the highly originally named lake; 'The Lake' as their wintering grounds. A year ago on Sunday, I managed 4 males and 1 female at the site, so I decided to take a trip down there on Satuday to see whether they had stuck to the same lake this year.
I wasn't disappointed, and a female G-sander soon showed itself in the exact same spot were I had left the birds last year. She was followed by a very smart looking male, and I enjoyed rubbish, distant views of the birds as they went everywhere we didn't.
Further down the path, I suddenly found myself staring at what looked like a smaller than average Greylag, with a flock of normal sized Greylag Geese. As I got closer, the bird moved into the water, and it became apparent that it was in fact a Pink-footed Goose. This isn't the usual species you'd expect to find in Surrey, but at first it didn't occur to me as anything other than a part of the park's collection, put there to confuse and temporarily excite birdwatchers. Then I realised there had been a relatively well twitched Pink-footed Goose of unknown origin in flooded fields a few miles away back on the 18th January. Many of the top Surrey listers had visited the fields and ticked off the bird, and I was getting anxious. Would I have to complete a dreaded rarity form? How would I describe a Pink-footed Goose? .... Goose like? Pink? With feet? It was all getting too much for me.
I watched the bird for a little while, but it tended to stay out in the middle and far edges of the lake furthest from us, so we moved on with a few images on the memory card to have a proper look at back in the warmth...
The dying bird, hiding in the undergrowth. What is the point in shooting this for fun?
Back at home, and after a bit of research, and contacting one of the Surrey county recorders, it turned out that I had relocated the Pink-footed Goose last seen in the area a few weeks back. The problem is that the origin of unusual or scarce wildfowl is often debatable, with so many birds kept in collections around the country. The jury is still out on the Pink-footed Goose, let's just hope its not shot. It would have made a great 26th addition to my year list, but I'm not doing one, so it won't. So there.