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I found no flocks of Snow Geese at Dead Creek late this morning, but at
about 10:30 there was a flock of about 1000 along Cider Mill Road between
Rts. 125 and 23 just outside Middlebury, and another flock of several
thousand near the intersection of Rt. 23 and Prunier Rd. in Weybridge.  Two
hunters told me that a dark bird that I had seen in the latter flock was a
Brant, as I had suspected but couldn't be sure without a scope.  They said
they were going to try to sneak up on the flock.  When I returned two hours
later the flock was gone.

At Dead Creek several hundred Mallards were in the puddles of water not far
from the viewing area.  A few Black Ducks were mixed in.  A Northern
Harrier and at least one Red-tail soared in the brisk wind. 

Now for the mystery:  At the western end of the viewing area I found one
lone goose hanging out with several dozen Mallards.  From the neck down,
this goose looked very much like Sibley's "white juvenile" Snow Goose,
though overall somewhat lighter.  But the head coloration and the bill
looked more like a Ross's Goose.  The bill, though not quite black, was
dark enough that it had no discernible "grin-patch."  The base of the bill
was definitely vertical like the Ross and not curved like the Snow.  The
bill seemed small, but I had nothing to compare it to.  It had a distinct
black line from the bill to the eye, the forehead was white, the top of the
head was tannish, and the back of the head was white.  The back of the neck
was tannish, like the white juvenile Snow.  It's hard to judge the overall
size of the bird, having no other geese with it, but it was much taller and
fatter than the Mallards, and probably longer.  When I first saw it, it was
about 200 yards away, but over the next half hour or so, it gradually
foraged its way to about 100 yards from me.  So I had very good views even
with just binoculars.  Does this sound like a Ross's-Snow hybrid?  Any
other ideas?  Ross's would be a life bird for me, though I guess a hybrid
doesn't quite count!  

Ken Copenhaver
Fiarfax VT

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