My first “specklebelly”, ever.


Yesterday morning I was fortunate enough to spend some quality time with the first Greater White-fronted Goose I’ve ever seen, much less photographed. In Utah this species is unusual, a vagrant, so you can imagine my excitement.

This is one of the first shots I took of ‘him’, while he was resting in the deep shade against the bank. Just before I took this photo he’d been sleeping.



When he first came out into the light, light that was intermittent and fairly brief, he was sidelit.

But I still like the shot, in part because it shows that his “white-front”, the white feathers between his bill and eyes, is actually mostly feathers rather than a white portion of the proximal part of his bill. The proximal portion of his bill is also white-ish but it’s less white, as you’ll see best in one of the photos below.



The photos I took of him while the sun was behind clouds turned out better than I thought they would.



I’m only including this shot of him next to a Mallard so readers can get a sense of relative size. Specklebellies are a little less than half the size of Canada Geese (4.8 lbs. vs 9.8 lbs.)



Getting a drink.



Near the end of my time with him he came up on land for a short while. This is one of the few shots I got of him that allows us to see his legs and one of his feet. Yes, he’d been grazing on grass.



A portrait, for head and neck detail.



When he got back into the water and swam away from me he gave me a look-back that I like, even though it’s a butt shot. Sometimes sidelight just works.



I’ll close with one of the few shots i got of him with the sun behind me.

Waterfowl hunters call this species “specklebellies” because of the dappled black markings on their creamy light breast, markings that resemble those on birch or aspen trees. I never did get any photos that show those markings very well. Maybe next time.

Ha, as if there’s likely to be a next time…



Autor Ron Dudley


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