Friday, 19 February 2016

Post 390 - Brilliant Black Brant amongst Beautifully Graceful Brent Geese

Brent Geese (Branta bernicla)
Hey everyone, today's post 390 and as you'll know, earlier in the week I went to Spurn Point which is about a two and a half hour drive from where we live. It's such a good place to go to, there's so many reserves just packed into the small area, that you're bound to find something unusual or interesting. When I did my post on my trip to Spurn I mentioned I saw a flock of Brent Geese at Kilnsea Wetlands, a new one for me, but amongst them was one that I wasn't expecting to see either, a Black Brant! As there weren't any other birders around to confirm I wasn't 100% sure but I was pleased when I saw this tweet from today:

It was a tricky thing to get photos of as the birds were doing what they do, feeding, swimming about and flying off quite often. I didn't work out what kept disturbing them. I looked back through my photos and I did manage to get a reasonable shot of it.

So, what did I found out about not only the Black Brant, but Brent Geese in general?

The Black Brant - centre of picture
  • Well, firstly, there seems to be about 560,000 Brent Geese worldwide, while there are only 115,000 Black Brants.
  • I'm not 100% sure how many Black Brants there are in the UK, but there are about 100,000 of the normal Brent Geese.
  • The Black Brant is basically a subspecies of Brent Goose, sometimes called the Pacific Brent Goose. 
  • Black Brants usually live in Alaska where they breed and move to Baja, California for the Winter. They are a scarce visitor to the UK
  • The Brent Goose is an Amber Status bird in the UK, but is doing better in Europe and Globally.
  • They almost became extinct in the 1930's because there main food source 'Eelgrass' became almost extinct, too, with disease. 
There were quite a few at Kilnsea
  • Nowadays, Brent Geese have moved a bit inland to find their food, looking for agricultural land for other grasses and winter-cereals.
  • They are found, only Wintering on the Coasts of North, East and South England as well as most of Ireland's coast too.
  • It's about 60cm long with a wingspan of 115cm, with both Male and Female birds weighing quite a hefty 1.5 kilograms!
  • They do seem to be declining, though, for example, the Black Brant alone has declined from about 200,000 to what it is now.
  • This is because of reasons such as hunting, foxes and diseases. In fact, of 6 fitted with radio tags in 2002, only one survived because of these pressures. One was found in the larder of an Inuit hunter.
Flying about!
  • They first breed at 2 years, and usually die 9 years later, at 11. My age! :-( The oldest was 28 years, 2 months and 12 days!

Here are some links to some more information:

Hope you enjoyed,


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