LOCAL photographer Angus Bathgate caught a snow goose on camera as it arrived in the Musselburgh area.

He photographed the bird on the River Esk and feeding with greylag geese in the stubble fields of Barbachlaw Farm near Wallyford.

Its sighting attracted interest from birdwatchers, who travelled to the town to catch a glimpse of it.

But Stuart Rivers, birding officer at the Aberlady-based Scottish Ornithologists’ Club, said information suggested that it was not a “truly wild bird” but of feral origin or escaped from captivity.

He said: “The bird currently being seen in Musselburgh is very likely the same individual first seen in the Aberlady area in August/early September.

“That individual was with known feral flocks of greylag geese and the early date of its appearance strongly suggests it too was of a feral origin or an escape from captivity rather than a truly wild bird.

“That the bird can be approached fairly closely is also suggestive of it not being a truly wild bird.”

He added: “Up to a dozen ‘wild’ snow geese occur in Scotland every winter when they travel south-east in October/November from their breeding grounds in Arctic Greenland, Canada and north-east Siberia.

“They are found in the company of other geese which breed in North America/Greenland, such as pink-footed geese or barnacle geese, while those found with white-fronted geese, which winter predominantly in south-west Scotland, have greatest credibility since their breeding ranges overlap in west Greenland.

“These birds will winter until the following spring before heading back to their breeding grounds with the commoner goose species flocks they are associating with in Scotland/Britain.

“[This] bird might originate from feral flocks in south-west Scotland or have escaped, this year or previously, from a wildfowl collection.

“Most larger collections, such as those open to the public, are usually careful with their birds, so it could have originated from a smaller private collection but that is anyone’s guess.”

A spokesman for East Lothian Council’s Countryside Ranger Service said: “Wild snow geese occasionally turn up in Scotland but most that we see here have escaped from captivity, as is probably the case with this one.

“It could be confused with other birds, particularly the white forms of greylag geese – known imaginatively as whitelags.

“Snow geese are smaller than whitelags and have a very obvious large black patch on each wing.”