Monday, September 2, 2013

Grey Surprise

The morning started grey, drizzly and breezy - one of those mornings when optimism for finding birds and taking photographs doesn’t come easily. But by 11am when the sun finally broke through the clouds the morning hadn’t been too bad after all, and for readers who stay the course there are a few pictures of an uncommon grey goose for these parts. 

At Conder Green I watched 5 Little Grebe fishing the pools, taking the tiny minnows the Kingfishers and Cormorants have been after lately. No sign of a blue streak though, and just one Cormorant and 8 Teal. There rest of the usual stuff proved pretty sparse with just 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank, 1 Oystercatcher, 2 Curlew and 2 Spotted Redshank, all enlivened by 11 Snipe plus a single Ruff with head tucked in, roosting and hiding amongst the 20 or so Redshank in the creek. 

I drove through drizzle up to Knott End where hopefully the 1015 tide might bring in a few goodies and a change of weather. I think I missed the bulk of the Oystercatchers heading up river to roost as there were only some 140 left on the incoming tide, other waders 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 15 Ringed Plover, 22 Redshank, 2 Turnstone, 2 Lapwing, 10 Curlew and 7 Grey Plover. 

Also on the incoming tideline were 9 Eider, 8 Cormorant and a single Grey Heron. The heron was having a bad day, being chased from the shore by a Lesser Black-backed Gull. 

Grey Heron and Lesser Black-backed Gull

The poor overnight weather and gloom of the morning had brought lots of terns to the shore where they roosted in between the "dreads" - 450 Sandwich Tern plus several Common Tern. 

Sandwich Terns

Sandwich Terns

Along the river was a Brent Goose, preening almost continually as it floated downstream. I thought maybe it had got slightly oiled to be cleaning itself up so systematically, but eventually it came ashore and fed a little before passers-by caused the bird to drift out to the channel again. Brent (or Brant) Geese are fairly scarce around here and it is quite unusual to get such good views and pictures from what is normally a very wary species, especially when they mix with winter Pink-footed Geese.

Brent Goose

Brent Goose

Brent Goose

Brent Goose
From Wiki.

"Brent (or Brant) Goose is divided three subspecies:
  • Dark-bellied Brent Goose Branta bernicla bernicla 
  • Pale-bellied Brent Goose Branta bernicla hrota (sometimes also known as Light-bellied Brant Goose in Europe, and Atlantic Brant in North America) 
  • Black Brant Branta bernicla nigricans (sometimes also known as the Pacific Brant in North America) 
 Some DNA evidence suggests that these forms are genetically distinct; while a split into three separate species has been proposed, it is not widely accepted, with other evidence upholding their maintenance as a single species.

The body of the dark-bellied form is fairly uniformly dark grey-brown all over, the flanks and belly not significantly paler than the back. The head and neck are black, with a small white patch on either side of the neck. It breeds on the Arctic coasts of central and western Siberia and winters in western Europe, with over half the population in southern England, the rest between northern Germany and northern France.

The Pale-bellied Brent Goose appears blackish-brown and light grey in colour. The body is different shades of grey-brown all over, the flanks and belly are significantly paler than the back and present a marked contrast. The head and neck are black, with a small white patch on either side of the neck. It breeds in Franz Josef Land, Svalbard, Greenland and northeastern Canada, wintering in Denmark, northeast England, Ireland and the Atlantic coast of the U.S. from Maine to Georgia."

More birds and sunny days from Another Bird Blog soon. Stay posted.    


Stuart Price said...

The Brent is a very nice find, the only ones I ever saw in the UK were in East Anglia.

Margaret Adamson said...

HI Great to see the first Brent goose. I will soon be returning to N.Ireland were we get 30.000 Pale -bellied Brent Geese near me.

eileeninmd said...

Great for you, that the weather cleared up! Awesome shot of the heron and gull! We see the same Brent geese here in the winter months but the spelling is different. Ours is spelled as Brant and not Brent. Great shots of the goose. Happy birding and have a great day!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Beautiful goose that Brent. Always funny to see big birds being chased by smaller ones (although I'm not sure if a gull qualifies as smaller...what it lacks in size I'm sure it makes up in aggresiveness.)

When you say the terns are resting between "dreads" do you mean storms?

PS: re your comment over at mine..we ate crabcakes yesterday...yumm.

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Hi Phil, and thank you always for your very kind words on my blog. I have no way of thanking individuals via e-mails too well, or on my comments from blog, as have never figured that part out...huge sigh. neat it was to grab that image of the Gull and Heron in same frame!
The rare to see Brent Goose, what a gorgeous species! I cannot ever remember seeing one before, posted on blogs, or otherwise. It is really a wonderfully coloured, stout, healthy looking bird.
Have a great week, take care~

Carole M. said...

seems you're out amongst it Phil, rain, hail or shine. The Brent Goose is quite handsome!

The Hairy Birder said...

I guess it could be the same bird that has been in the Fleetwood area for a week or two now Phil. It does disappear for a few days at a time.

Gary Phillips said...

Great post, and info on the brant goose. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

Stewart M said...

Nice looking bird - used to love the winter trip to Solway and Northumbrian coasts for winter geese.

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

Terri said...

Wow- love that first shot! Glad the weather cleared up for you. Have a great day!

Wally Jones said...

That was a nice "grey surprise"!
I've only seen Brant once, in the northeastern U.S. about 35 years ago.
Looks like you're getting fair numbers lately. Hope the trend continues.

Nothing like a bit of weather to bring in a few birds - nice flock of Terns!

Hurry and enjoy the rest of the week, it'll soon be gone!

Ercotravels said...

Great shots specially the first and third
Regards :)

Louisette retriever said...

Wonderfull shotsi greeting from Belgium.

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