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another Clay-colored, Cackling Goose SUBspecies


lehman.paul@verizon.net
 

On 10 Dec, a Clay-colored Sparrow continues at the upper end of Santee Lakes, the SIXTH Clay-colored reported in the county since the beginning of this month (almost all continuing birds from Nov). This particular bird has been present since 16 Nov and frequents the RV camping area, along the nice stream that runs through it, between sites numbered in the 130s-150s on one side of the creek and from 170s-180s on the other side, with a flock of about 15 Chippings. The small Cackling Goose continues with the coots at the north end of Lake #5, and the SUBspecific identity of this bird is somewhat clouded, perhaps. It is indeed very small and very small/stubby billed, although the breast is not especially dark, so whether it is an actual minima or not seems unresolved. What makes this situation even more confusing is that there was a small Cackling Goose here in October which had a nice white neck ring, which minima does not show (but Aleutian does), but now the/a bird at the same spot since November has NO neck ring! Many birds start off with no neck ring and then slowly gain one as the season progresses, but the opposite shouldn't happen! Most Cackling Geese in the county are Aleutian Cacklings, whereas minima is thought to be only a casual visitor. A Common Goldeneye flew over Mast Park earlier this morning, seemingly headed for Santee Lakes.

--Paul Lehman, San Diego