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North Holland Goose  part 2

In a previous post I wrote about a population of Branta hybrids in the Netherlands, named North Holland Geese’. Below I describe them in a little more detail, focussing on their main features and portraying some individuals that could cause ID headaches.

North Holland Goose (Branta hybrid) variation

North Holland Geese, non-breeding birds moulting flight feathers, 2 July 2020, Purmerend. Many individuals are characterised by at least some white on the forehead and a brown breast, contrasting with the black neck and paler flanks. However, there is much variation, as this photo shows. Some birds are almost identical to Canada Geese Branta canadensis, while others are hard to distinguish from Cackling B hutchinsii or Barnacle Geese B leucopsis.

North Holland Goose (Branta hybrid)

North Holland Goose adult (with young) moulting flight feathers, 8 July 2020, Hoorn. A rather typical bird.

North Holland Goose (Branta hybrid) pair with young

North Holland Geese, 8 July 2020, Hoorn. A pair with a young.

North Holland Goose (Branta hybrid) occidentalis fulva lookalike

North Holland Goose, 2 July 2020, Schardam. This bird, that showed only a few small white spots on the forehead, could easily be confused with a dark Canada Goose (occidentalis/fulva).

North Holland Goose (Branta hybrid)

North Holland Goose, moulting flight feathers, 2 July 2020, Purmerend. Another example of a dark bird.

North Holland Goose (Branta hybrid) leucopsis lookalike

North Holland Goose, moulting flight feathers, 2 July 2020, Purmerend. The amount of white on the head and darkness of the breast are reminiscent of Barnacle Goose.

North Holland Goose (Branta hybrid) leucopsis lookalike

North Holland Goose, moulting flight feathers, 8 July 2020, Hoorn. Another Barnacle Goose lookalike.

North Holland Goose (Branta hybrid) leucopsis lookalike

North Holland Goose, moulting flight feathers, 8 July 2020, Hoorn. This bird would be hard to pick out from a flock of Barnacle Geese, but note the brownish hues over much of its plumage.

North Holland Goose (Branta hybrid) minima leucopareia lookalike

North Holland Goose, moulting flight feathers, 8 July 2020, Hoorn. This bird has a rather pale breast, lacks white spots on the forehead and looks small. Confusion with Cackling Goose (minima/leucopareia) is a real possibility.

North Holland Goose (Branta hybrid) minima leucopareia lookalike

North Holland Goose, moulting flight feathers, 8 July 2020, Hoorn. Another Cackling Goose lookalike.

North Holland Goose (Branta hybrid) hutchinsii lookalike

North Holland Goose, moulting flight feathers, 8 July 2020, Hoorn. Don’t be fooled. This is not that vagrant Richardson’s Cackling Goose B h hutchinsii you are looking for!

North Holland Goose (Branta hybrid) parvipes taverneri lookalike

North Holland Goose, moulting flight feathers, 2 July 2020, Purmerend. A medium-sized bird with a rather pale breast and lacking white spots on the forehead. It is most similar to a small Canada (parvipes) or a large Cackling Goose (taverneri).

North Holland Goose (Branta hybrid)

North Holland Goose’ moulting flight feathers, 2 July 2020, Purmerend. A bird that could easily be mistaken for a (pure) Canada Goose. Note that this bird is stretching its neck, giving the impression of a much larger bird.

North Holland Goose (Branta hybrid) minima lookalike

So next time you are struggling with the identification of a Branta goose, remember that North Holland Goose’  is a serious option to consider!


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Published 10 July 2020