Dark-bellied Brent Goose. Courtesy of Stephen Foster.
On Tuesday I found two Dark-bellied Brent Geese Branta bernicla bernicla (DBBG/BG), the first one at Knott End and another on Pilling Marsh later in the day. The Knott End bird surprised me for two reasons, firstly this bird was roosting on the beach at Knott End with Shelduck which I found rather odd if only because, like all other scarcer species of geese the BG are often to be found with Pink-footed Geese - as the Pilling Marsh bird was - though the least tied to them because of their more coastal distribution, and secondly, I hadn't realised the BG was actually smaller than the Shelduck....learning something new every day!
The DBBG breeds on the Arctic coasts of central and western of Siberia, it is a long distance migrant with arguably the most energetically costly migrations of any other waterfowl species. The largest flock ever recorded in Lancashire was of up to 300 birds at Hundred End on the S.Ribble Marshes in late January 1929 with nothing remotely comparable to this record since. This remarkable record can be found in the notes of Clifford Oakes, and there appears to be no real indication that the status of the BG in Lancashire has changed much since the days of Oakes whose assessment of it was that of a 'sporadic visitor', an average of around 25 birds have been seen each winter since 1978/79 though this figure includes several sizable influxes the largest of which came in the winter of 1978/79 when 40 birds were recorded half of which were Pale-bellied Brent Geese Branta bernicla hrota, whereas the influx of 1990/91 involved 50 birds most of which were DBBG.
There is just one record of Black Brant Branta bernicla nigricans found in Lancashire, that of a bird on Pilling Marsh in mid December 1996, it stayed there until at least late February 1997.
Brambling. Brian Rafferty
An excellent photograph of the smart Brambling to end the post with a splash of colour....Thanks for this Brian, much appreciated.