Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Black Brant

16th December 2014 - Topsham


Those who know me may be a little surprised at the subject of this post. My attitude towards wildfowl is, at best,  one of casual indifference - I'm not saying I wouldn't cross the road to see a Green-winged Teal, just that I'd have to seriously think about it. I do make exceptions, Smew, Long-tailed Duck, and in fact most sea ducks would be allowed a page or two in my ideal personalised field guide. As for the rest, Shoveler, Wigeon, Mallard and their mutant progeny, even Garganey; just know that they're ducks and then leave well alone. I know a lot of people like ducks, but then a lot of people don't care for gulls, it takes all sorts. There, that's just my opinion and you don't have to like it, just don't get me started on Mute Swans!

So why then am I bothering with a post about a goose. Well I'll also admit to enjoying the sight of a decent flock of wild geese, somehow impressive numbers makes up for a lack of individual interest. At this time of year we often get several hundred Dark-bellied Brent Geese on the fields between the Bridge Inn and Dart's Farm - Topsham Flats as it's sometimes called. In previous years this flock has been accompanied by a Red-necked Goose but for the last few weeks the odd one out has been a Black Brant. I spent a fruitless three hours by the pools hoping the Penduline Tits might show up for a photo opportunity and as I was leaving took a few minutes to look through the geese.

While it was only a little blacker than many of the nom. bernicla, I found it fairly easy to pick out by it's large bright white flank patch. As it wandered across the field from distant to close I took a few photos.

Black Brant (with Dark-bellied Brent Geese) - 16/12/2014 Topsham
Sometimes appearing a little stockier than the others, the white necklace broad and complete with the big white flank showing on most views.

Black Brant (with Dark-bellied Brent Geese) - 16/12/2014 Topsham

Black Brant (with Dark-bellied Brent Geese) - 16/12/2014 Topsham
Not obviously different in size or shape here - they are alleged to be a little bulkier than Dark-bellied on average.

Black Brant (with Dark-bellied Brent Geese) - 16/12/2014 Topsham
Only marginally darker on the mantle than Dark-bellied and showing just as much contrast between the neck and breast. Black Brant are also supposed to be browner on the breast and mantle - I couldn't detect any difference.

Black Brant  - 16/12/2014 Topsham
Blackish on the belly extending well beyond the legs towards the vent, but no more so than on the Dark-bellied nearby.

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