Harry’s advent calendar of birds, day 1: Red-breasted Goose

The first bird for the calendar is… Red-breasted Goose, Branta ruficollis. Because I saw some in St. James’s Park today and they are just gorgeous little birds.

I’ve never seen them in the wild, sadly. How’s this for an obscure neurosis: whenever I’m somewhere with an ornamental wildfowl collection, there’s a niggling worry at the back of my mind that I might actually be seeing a genuine rarity, wandered all the way from, in this case, Siberia — and I’m justassuming it’s part of the collection. It’s enough to keep you up at night.

The wildfowl of St. James’s Park was in the news recently when one of the pelicans showed a fine disregard for its comic persona by eating a  whole live pigeon. Which happens fairly regularly, but amusingly, every time it makes the news they find an ‘expert’ to say how remarkable and unheard of it is.

» Red Breasted Goose is © Wayne Dumbleton and Siberian Red-breasted Geese is © Purple Kitten; both pictures are used under the CC by-nc-sa licence.

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