Pink-Footed Goose in Holtsville, New York

At 4:45 PM on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 I found a Pink-footed Goose foraging in a soccer field in Holtsville. I was heading west on the Long Island Expressway, getting ready to merge right onto the Nichols Road exit, when I noticed a sizable flock of Canada Geese occupying a soccer field along the North Service Road of the Expressway. Of course, I had to turn around to detail the flock, as any responsible and persevering birder might do. The reason we detail canada goose flocks, other than to count them, is in hopes to find a rarity within the mix, in this case the Pink-footed Goose.

I pulled off the Nichols Road exit, got back on the Expressway, this time on the South service Road, and made a left on Blue Point Road. I then turned left onto the North Service road and the field quickly appeared on my right. The map below shows the exact field. For your reference,the main road running North/South to the east of the field is Blue Point Road. I parked on the right hand side of the LIE North Service Road where there is a small gate with a latch. You can enter the field through there.


From what I gather, the Pink-footed Goose breeds in Greenland, Iceland and Norway (Svalbard) and winters in Europe. It is considered a vagrant in North America. It is a medium sized goose with pink feet, a black-tipped bill with pink in the middle and black at the base, and has an overall grayish body. Its neck and head are a rich dark brown. You will also notice that the rump and vent is pure white and the tail is grayish in the center with a broad white tip. See photos below which supplement my description. The photos were taken "digiscope" style, holding my iPhone up to my spotting scope. While I'm not positive, it seems that the Pink-footed Goose population has increased significantly in recent years yielding an occasional sighting annually in our geographic area. I came across an article written in March 2011 by NorthJersey.com that covered a story on a Pink-footed Goose that was found in Bergen County, NJ. According to the article, that particular individual was the first ever recorded Pink-footed Goose in New Jersey. Pretty darn cool. What an exciting end to my day and one of my better finds since I've been a birdwatcher.





Notice the goose is showing its tail which reveals the broad, white-tipped band against the darker inner area.


The Pink-footed drew in sporadic crowds who tried to figure out the birds routine foraging pattern.
 

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