Whitefronted Geese

If you have not yet seen them, you may want to make the effort to catch up with the visiting Russian \ European Whitefronts (albifrons). This subspecies is extremely rare in NI, with perhaps only two previous records.
The harsh winter on the continent has seen dispersion into the UK and Ireland. There are presently 4 with the Greylag flock at Annes Point, County Down and circa 30 at Reedy Flats Lough Neagh. The usual Whitefronts in Ireland are of the Greeland form (flavirostris) with these birds normally wintering at Lough Macnean, Co.Fermanagh and occassionally Myroe Levels. (The Wexford Slobs hold virtually the whole wintering population).
Below are pictures of individuals of both forms, along with a flock of the Russian Whitefronts. Below we have also summarised the main differences and thanks to Paul Kelly for contributing comments about the ID of the Russian form:

Russian White-fronts show the Pink-footed warm wash to upper breast and lower neck and the head is pale and not dark like Greenland. The fact one can see the tram lines or furrows to the area above ear-coverts as being darker, out lining the facial features is very good, Greenland fails to show this as the head is a tad darker. Wider white barring to bigger coverts is also strong as is the broad white bars to scapulars on an adult based on a grayish background.
The necks appear stocky, like Pink-foot and the pinkish, smaller bill also add to the bigger picture.
In Russian, on the tail, the amount of white shown and rather uneven pattern is strong. Greenland is always evenly squared-off and dark tail band extending closer to tip.
Russian Whitefronts - Ed O'Hara

Greenland Whitefront - Christine Cassidy
Russian Whitefront flock, Lough Neagh - Ed O'Hara      

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