The timing turned out to be very good, according to the Met Office there had been 75cm of snow just north of the lake a week earlier but this had entirely disappeared because of the unusual mild spell and persistent rain. Now, a week later, reports give a more normal snow depth of 66cm... there's even a rare covering in Kyoto city this morning!
As well as the Cackler there was also the usual contingent of middendorffii Taiga Bean and a few Greater White-fronts. The latter occurs in very small numbers considering the large flocks just over the prefectural border in Fukui, usually fewer than 20 here. Unfortunately I couldn't find any of the rarer Tundra Bean which may be annual but only in very small numbers.
More often than not views of the Bean are restricted to rather distant sleeping birds on the islands off the Wild Bird Center at Kohokucho but this was one of the few and far between occasions I see them in the fields at the opposite side of the lake. When they're on the water at the opposite side (as they were on Sunday) they are even more distant than at the usual spot.
|The Cackling Goose dwarfed by the Tundra Swans.|
Fortunately it kept coming closer until it was almost at the leading edge of the flock right under our noses.
|You just can't ask for closer views than this!|
The Taiga Bean were in a different area, at the north west corner of the lake. They were far more skittish and difficult to approach even inside the car.
|A good example of the swan-like middendorffii bill. The only time I ever saw a Swan Goose in this flock it was smaller than many of these 'Middendorff's' Taiga Bean, they really are huge.|