Friday, 26 February 2010

Dark-bellied Brent Geese.

Brent Geese breed on artic islands and coasts, migrating south in late September to October and return north again in April - May. The nominate Dark-bellied form (Spp. bernicla) migrate from the Russian high arctic to Denmark, the western Baltic and England (mostly south of a line from the Wash to the Severn Estuary) into western France. There are also two distinct populations of Pale-bellied Brent (Spp. hrota) from the western artic; one from Canada that winters in Ireland and the Svalbard population that migrates to Denmark and England and a few of these can often be found amoung the dark-bellied flocks.  My friend Chris in Iceland would probably say that we have them 'on loan' from him for six months every year.   
During my recent visit to Farlington Marshes I came across a small group of Dark-bellied Brent Geese (Branta bernicla bernicla) well away from the main flocks who were not disturbed by my close presence (approx 30 feet away) and quite happy for me to take a few pictures as they rested between meals while occasionally chatting to one another.
An inquisitive stare!
Their traditional wintering habitat is shallow coast and estuaries with extensive mudflats and intertidal areas but since the late 1970's these geese have adapted to use coastal grasslands and the reserve management of the 300 odd acres at Farlington helps to provide them with the sweet lucious grass that they require to reach peak condition for their epic return journey in a few months time. 
Soon goes back to feeding.
Content to sit and ponder why anyone would want to take photos?

I didn't find any 'pale-bellied' or 'black' Brant during this visit but it's always worth checking through the various flocks. Maybe next time!  FAB.


  1. We call 'em Brant over here. But they are too skittish to get wonderful shots like these.

  2. They are unmistakable, aren't they? Great shots, Frank. Coolthat you were able to get close enough to them to catch the sparkle in their eye!

  3. I love these charcoal-colored geese. I really like their faces.

  4. Great shots Frank,these look wonderful.

  5. Excellent shots Frank. They certainly let you get close.

  6. These are great shots of my favourite Goose Frank, thanks for posting.

  7. Great shots, different looking geese.

  8. One early spring a few years ago, I came across a small flock of Branta bernicla foraging on the headlands along the coast of Maine. These had white bellies, otherwise looked the same as yours pictured here. These are such excellent pictures! ~ks

  9. Wow that's a "close encounter." Very nice photos.

  10. Hi Frank,
    Well not on loan really, they belong to both of us ;-) You get them part of the year and me other part of the year ;-) I do not really know their biology around here but I do think they are only passing by Iceland. The strange thing is that I used to have 6 or 8 staying during the winter on the beach close by the home, but not this year. I guess the temps went to cold for them. Although we did not get snow, it was between -5 and -12°c most of the time. Now, we are getting the snow! by tons!!!
    It is also very hard to get nice shots of them over here, as you never can get close enough to them! They fly away if you are not well hiding...
    These shots of yours are beautiful and probably I wll never get them so nicely ;-) Well done.

  11. Steve B. We always were different over here and reserve the use of 'Brant' for the 'Black' (nigricans) sub species.

    Wilma. I was pleased to get close to a species that is usually very skittish.

    Kelly. Very distinctive and definitely more alluring than the 'grey' geese.

    JRandSue. Thanks John.

    Keith. Just for once!

    Roy. I agree. Absolute charmers.

    Eileen. Thanks.

    ksdoolittle. Presume they were the Pale-bellied form Karen.

    Mona. Thank you.

    Chris. You are correct they do only pass through Iceland and no doubt the weather conditions determine how long they stop before moving on southwards.

  12. Hi again Frank. Not familiar with waterfowl, love that charcoal colour of the Brent. Also love that second shot. Very nice :-D

  13. Hi shirl. You probably would only see them passing through as their traditional winter sites are a bit further south.


I hope you enjoyed your visit and I always appreciate your comments and feedback.


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