Taiga Bean Goose in Vorpommern (Pomerania)

Taiga Bean GooseIn the Friedländer Große Wiese especially south of Mariawerth  but also north of Heinrichswalde 3,000 Bean Goose (Anser fabalis) could be seen in only about 2 hours in the early morning good of an early Novermber day. Obviously they flew up from the nature reserve “Galenbecker lake” which is right to the south. The preferred nighttime roost have probably been one of the polder at Heinrichswalde and the large flooded polder south- east of Fleethof. Fleethof itself is about 10km west of Heinrichswalde. Anyway, flocks of geese calling loud flew at 7:30 across the polder dikes to the north. Later I went to the so-called Friedlaender Große Wiese – a large meadow area. The Friedlaender Große Wiese is very accessible by paved and partly concreted driveway lanes without access restrictions. As I passed some harvested corn fields especially south of Mariawerth , I was lucky enough to see Bean Goose together with Common Cranes (Grus grus) in these fields. Since this flat area – a former alkaline fen-  is far away from densely populated areas, there is less interference by joggers or dogwalkers than in the south-western part of Germany. Insofar the geese can enjoy normally quite a calm day to feed. So the situation is quite different from that which was described in the blog “Cranes & Geese in winter.” The good numbers of geese on the harvested corn fields not so far away from the road were amazing. I went pretty much all the roads and paths along the vast meadows. I kept seeing large groups of geese, which were very inconspicuous on the seemingly empty, harvested maize fields. They can camouflage very well. Sometimes only when geese fly in, you will pay attention to the flocks of geese.

Among the observed geese were also Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons) and Greylag Geese (Anser anser), but the focus was on the question of the occurrence / proportion of the Taiga Bean Goose (Anser fabalis fabalis) in geese flocks . It was found that the Taiga Bean Goose occurred significantly less than the Tundra Bean Goose (Anser fabalis serrirostris) . The proportion is likely to have amounted to no more than 5 % of the total number of Bean Geese (Anser fabalis) this morning.

In an article by Thomas Heinicke entitled “New evidence for the occurrence Taiga Bean Goose in Mecklenburg -Western Pomerania ” in Orn . Newsletter Meckl.- Vorp. Vol 45 , No. 1, pp. 3 – 18 , 2004 3 points out that Taiga Bean Goose forms large resting populations in that area only between December and February when higher numbers can be expected. During November only the first Taiga Bean Geese arrive, primarily in the coastal region of Western Pomerania. Bigger wintering grounds inland are next to the area described above at Guestrow near Malchin.

In accordance with the above studies the majority of the birds within the Northeast German wintering population is located in Mecklenburg- Vorpommern; with a considerable preference to the coastal region of Vorpommern but also to a certain extent at inland roosting areas such as the area described above. The wintering area of Taiga Bean Goose is much smaller than that of the Tundra Bean Goose and is mainly restricted to the western Baltic Sea (Southern Sweden, Denmark, North Germany, North-West Poland). While e.g. in Sweden the flocks of Bean Geese seemed to consist predominantly of Taiga Bean Goose, only recent studies by T.Heinicke1 and A.de Jong have shown that in central and southern Sweden the total number of Tundra Bean Goose (Anser fabalis rossicus ) may be between 5,000 and 10,000 individuals, too. This can be read in the article “Tundra Bean Geese Anser fabalis rossicus in central and southern Sweden autumn 2009- spring 2012”. Especially during mild winters many of the birds stay in Sweden. The main wintering area in that case is the area around Hammarsjön, in North East Skania.

But the situation in Central and Western Europe is not simple, too. Tundra Bean Goose and Taiga Bean Goose use most resting areas together. In contrast to the Netherlands, where for several decades both subspecies are recognized separately, the Bean Geese are counted only down to the species level by goose counters in Sweden, Germany and Poland.

Although early November was not the best time to look for some very nice observations and also a few photos could be made. Other good areas are the open fields and meadows west of Ladebow in Greifswald, the meadows near Bargischower, then the nature reserve “Nonnenhof” near the city of Neubrandenburg and the nature reserve “Ribnitzer Great Moor” near to Dierhagen. I hope all this give you a short impression what is possible in the densely populated Germany – even in wintertime.

Feel free to contact me if you need more detailed information especially to the observation grounds mentioned above.

I’m always interested to get feedback by foreign ornithologists before and after their visits to Germany. All Birder can help to increase our knowledge of the local and wintering birds. In general, we have a good overview of some species. In some species, the available data – as described above – are still poor. Information on large numbers of resting places, rarities and/or beautiful photos can always be very interesting.

A short blog in the series, ” Where to watch birds in Germany” is already in preparation. Here bird-lens.com will give you more information, what to see when and how to get there.

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