Bean Goose { Birds of Europe }

Bean Goose Anser fabalis

Originally posted on Flickr uploaded to Commons by Ariefrahman {talk}
Originally posted on Flickr uploaded to Commons by Ariefrahman {talk} | Source

Introduction.

This large social goose belongs to the order of birds known as the Anseriformes and the family Anatidae within that order.The genus name of Anser is Latin for goose,while the specific name of fabalis=of beans from faba-a bean.

In the UK the goose is classed as a winter migrant and is placed on the Amber list of conservation concern because of small non-breeding populations. The races of concern are fabalis { international concerns} and rossicus {rare or localized}.

In Ireland it is Green Listed because the bird in Europe is regarded as being secure. { Source BTO }. The Total European population is estimated at 850,000 to one million pairs. populations vary from country to country, There follows some selected examples. the Croatian population is estimated to be between 10,000 and 15,000 individuals.Denmark, 10,000-12,000 individuals. France 2,700-5,000 individuals. Germany,170,000-190,000 individuals, Sweden-15,000-30,000 individuals. Slovakia 10,000-35,000 individuals Ukraine 250-1,000 individuals. { Source Birdlife }.

The Gaelic name for the bird is Muir-ghadh. The Welsh name is Gwdd y ghaddh, The irish name is Siolghe. The Croatian name is Guska ljigarica

Bean Goose and habitat

Crossley's ID Guide to Britain and Ireland. Richard Crossley.
Crossley's ID Guide to Britain and Ireland. Richard Crossley. | Source

Description of the Bean goose.

The Bean goose is darker than the Greylag goose and as no grey blue on the wing coverts. It may readily be distinguished from the Pink-footed Goose by its long and somewhat weak bill, which is black at the tip and orange yellow in the center.. The legs and feet are orange yellow. The head is dense brown in colour. They have a cream coloured bars across the back.

The tail consists of sixteen feathers,dark brown edged with white. The primary feathers black at the tips shading to grey at the base ,the shafts white. The secondary feathers ,tertials and the wing coverts are grey brown. The breast and belly a yellowish white. The vent and under tail coverts are pure white.

It tends to be darker and browner than the other species of the 'Grey Geese ',having a darker head and neck. The upper wing coverts are dark brown as in the White fronted goose A.albifrons, and the Lesser White fronted Goose A.erythropus, but differs from these in having narrower white fringes to the feathers.

Courtesy of Shaun Ferguson. Standard You Tube License.. https://www.youtube.com/watchv=SqdBW-BQkVI.

General and Historical information.

The best places to see them in the UK is the Yare Valley in Norfolk,which includes the RSPB { Royal Society for the Protection of Birds },Mid-Yare Nature Reserve. Another flock winters near Falkirk in southern Scotland. They are erratic in appearance but are regularly seen in the east and southeast of England, between late September and March. These are usually birds that have arrived from Scandinavia. There are two races that occur in the UK the short billed Tundra breeding race and the more numerous Taiga race.

This species is strongly migratory and travels between breeding grounds in the high Arctic to wintering grounds in the temperate and sub-tropical zones. Studies have revealed that in its wintering quarters in the UK it is most likely to forage on improved grassland or grasslands grazed by cattle, that were a minimum of 5 ha in area and were at a distance of less than nine kilometers away from the roosting sites.

Birds in the UK visit locations such as Northumberland,Norfolk,Aberdeen, Lothian ,Nottingham, east Yorkshire and West Sussex. In its habits and plumage so closely resembles that of the Pink footed goose Anser brachyrhynchus, that in days gone by it caused a great deal of confusion between the two species.

Butler, 1898, alludes to this in his book British Birds with their Nest and Eggs-" From the time of the Scottish ornithologist Macgillivaray,downwards, much confusion and uncertainty has existed, not only regarding the species distinct , but also the habit of the two species, and it is only in recent years that the great increase in local lists of birds,and county histories of the same have increased our knowledge of the subject"

" There can be no possible doubt and the accumalation of evidence is overwhelming , that at the commencement of the nineteenth century, the Bean Goose was the common species of the low lying districts next to the sea. In Lincolnshire it arrives with the greatest regularity as the season came round at the close of the bean harvest about the middle of October { hence the name Bean Goose}. It is equally certain that at the present time, the Pink footed Goose is the common species of the Humber District, having gradually upsurped the position of the once familiar and old fashioned species"

It is thought that this change was due to agricultural practices during the 1800's,enclosure of those vast open firlds, which at one time surrounded each village, the decline of bean cultivation and the gradual substitution of rotation cropping -green and corn crops alternately all contrived to be much less favourable to the Bean goose.

Arthur Young's 'Agricultural Survey' 1798, states that the small country towns and villages, in the middle marsh,and sea marsh districts of Lincolnshire,were surrounded by vast open fields,arable lands, cow and horse pastures,and furze {gorse}. On stony land the rotation was fallow,wheat,bean and again fallow. The area under beans in the low country was enormous, the wheat stubbles being ploughed once, and the beans sowed broadcast in the spring,and never cleaned. These were harvested late in the autumn,usually got with much loss from the jaws of winter."

These were the days of the Grey goose, which our observant forefathers called the Bean goose { known at that time as Anser segetum} coming in great flocks in the later autumn to feast on the shelled beans in the open fields. This continued, till the change in cultivation and general enclosure, banished them from their ancient haunts.

Another Wildfowler, Mr.John Clubley of Kilnsea,in Holderness,stated that in his fathers time all the districts in the south east of Yorkshire,round Kilnsea and Easington were enclosed,and here and there many small ponds or 'sypes',and birch trees single or in groups. Great flocks of geese came in the fall and again in the spring,during bean harvest and sowing to feed,but they ceased to come when the ditches were cut and hedges planted"

In those days nearly every farmhouse in the marshes had a long single barreled gun named the 'Goose gun', originally a flint and steel, but later converted to a 'Tube and Nipple',and subsequently cut down the barrel to be used for tenting,when its use to be wildfowler was no more.

Mr.J.A.Harvie Brown,informed Butler that the commonest Grey goose. In the Lowlands of Scotland is without doubt the Pink-footed and that the Bean goose was rare. In Lancashire the Pink-footed was always the commoner of the two. Conversely Mr.Rodd stated that in Cornwall nine tenths of the flocks of Wild game that visited the south west of England, in hard weather,was the Bean goose.

It seems that in Ireland this was also the case. Sir R.Payne Gallwey considers " it is by far the commonest species,and may be seen in enormouse 'gaggles' for six months of the year. It ios essentially an inland feeder , on bogs and meadows, but they will fly to the mud banks,and slob of the the tides at dusk, to pass the night. these geese frequents every bog and marsh in Ireland, which afford security from molestation. They are always found inland in large numbers,sore in front,when they fly down to the meadows and soft green reclaimed lands that lie near the tide. A small proportion will,in the wildest weather,frequent the mud banks to feed and rest."

" They usually quit their inland haunts at dusk, disliking to remain on land at night,where dogs, or cattle may disturb them,and accordingly fly to the estuaries to rest and feed. At first dawn they again wing inland and pass the day in the open,unapproachable ground"

These birds are naturally wary and watchful. The well known saying 'A wild Goose Chase', like most of our proverbial expressions alludes to wide spread experiences of wild flowers who found the birds unapproachable.

Courtesy of Simon Brumby. Standard YouTube License https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIuWDE3Mcn0

Bean Goose and man

Mr T.Southwell {Stevenson's Birds of Norfolk} writing on this species says " Whatever the former status in Norfolk,there can be no doubt that the Bean Goose {among the grey geese} now ranks,in point of scarcity, next to the Greylag goose as evidential by the few examples observed in our markets, in late years, even in the most severe winters",and subsequently he enumerates four examples only as having come under his notice between January 10,1861 and January 31,1867, all these from the Norfolk Market.

Arthur Strickland,in a paper on 'British Wild geese' first read before the National History Section of the British Association at Leeds { Yorkshire} in 1858, describes a long billed goose,which formerly frequented,and bred in the Carrs {wet shrub-land} of Yorkshire. To this he gave the name of Anser paludosus-the 'Carr lag-goose'.

However, there can be little doubt,from the description and sketch,that this was the Bean goose. The Bean goose according to Morris has been kept on ornamental water in St.Jame's Park London, and has hatched young there. He also states, that " The bird is readily tamed if the eggs were procured and the young birds thus obtained for early domestication"

One bird was obtained by Mr. George Johnson of Melton Ross,Lincolnshire in 1851, of which, though an old bird and procured by the gun, he wrote " He is so tame that he will eat out of my hand, and come any time at call, and is in every way more domesticated than our common geese"

They were said to be friendly among themselves and in domestication they readily consorted with the Common Geese. In captivity they were known to attain a great age.The following interesting account I came across regarding the species in captivity was written by Mr. Thompson who records-

" At Springmount, near Clough,as male Bean goose,slightly wounded in the wing,was placed with a flock of common geese,from among which,he at once ,selected a partner. from then on he paid no attention to any others of her sex.He was evidently most unhappy when separated from her, even in winter and on one occasion was the means of saving her life."

" The cook being ordered to kill one of the geese,laid hold of the first that came to hand, which happened to be the wild goose's partner,when so remarkably vehement were his cries,that even the uplifted hand of the murderess was stayed,and with some other members of the family,with other members of the household,hurrying to the scene of the uproar. the cause of the birds anxiety was discovered,and the intended victim set at liberty"

Mr.Thompson states this was told to him in January 1838,and no further attempts were made on her life. In November 1848, they were removed to a new residence, where they continued,apparently, as happy as geese can be. For several years after the pair became associated the goose laid a full compliment of eggs, and sat on them even beyond the usual time. The male keeping company at her side,but unfortunately ,no issue appeared".

Bean Goose

Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetland Centre ,Gloucestershire UK.
Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetland Centre ,Gloucestershire UK. | Source

Breeding Nest and Eggs.

The nest of this species usually consists of a scrape in the ground or some depression,under a tree or bush or on some tussock in Taiga or marsh land. It is made of vegeation and lines with down.

The Taiga is the world's largest terrestrial biome. In North America it covers most of inland Canada and Alaska,as well as parts of the extreme northern continental United States, but also in Europe and Asia. The winters are cold and the summers warm. It usually consists of conifer trees at latitudes of fifty degrees north of the Arctic Circle.

The eggs of this species are deposited by the female and number four to six,and it is the female which undertakes the task of incubation which lasts for a period of twenty seven to twenty nine days. They fledge in a further forty days or so and become fully independent at two and a half months.

When the goslings take to the water the female will feed with them and the male will defend the area as he does during the incubation period.

Anser fabalis

Taken in the Netherlands.
Taken in the Netherlands. | Source

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8 comments

D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 20 months ago from Lancashire north west England Author

GarnetBird,

Your kind words are much appreciated . Best wishes to you.


GarnetBird profile image

GarnetBird 20 months ago from Northern California

I am impressed by your knowledge and use of video-media. Keep up the good work!


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 21 months ago from Lancashire north west England Author

DDE,

Hello Devika ,as usual your kind and appreciated comments are most welcome. Best wishes to you.


DDE profile image

DDE 22 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

I did not know of most the birds you have informed me on. This bird is new to me. Interesting and and with thorough research here.


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 22 months ago from Lancashire north west England Author

sallybea,

Hi Sally, it is a positive and optimistic picture you give hope you enjoy many hours by ' your ' river. Best wishes to you.


sallybea profile image

sallybea 22 months ago from Norfolk

D.A.L. Lovely to hear from you this morning. The daffodils have begun to bud, the snowdrops are blooming and the crocus are raising their pretty little heads and yes, it it will soon be time for my to head for the river, to spend happy hours chatting up my little guys, the critters:)


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 22 months ago from Lancashire north west England Author

sallybea,

Hi Sally, Glad you are familiar with this goose they are wonderful creatures. Good luck with your photography the spring is just around the corner look forward to seeing some of your pics. Best wishes to you.


sallybea profile image

sallybea 22 months ago from Norfolk

D.A.L.

This is one bird which I do know. It is fairly common in Norfolk, UK and I regularly see them sharing a field with some Canadian Geese who are visitors to these parts. The field runs alongside a river, a favorite haunt of mine for macro photography.

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