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.