Posts Tagged ‘Brent Geese



We were stood on the beach a few weeks ago and watched as two distant specks became larger. As they got closer the two dark birds became wildfowl, then geese. Eventually they revealed themselves as a pair of Dark-bellied Brent Geese. Reaching the shore they circled and came down to the sand where they rested a while, before once again moving on.


I’ve started so I’ll finish

Once you have started looking at geese it becomes habitual.

Searching a few dark bellied Brents at Cley the other week and out of a ditch in the field tripped this little pale bellied jobbie. He should have been up in Northumberland or Ireland, not mixing with his dark bellied cousins in North Norfolk.

2014 12 07 Pale bellied Brent Goose Cley Norfolk_Z5A5365



For the second time in a month I found myself staring along the coastline … waiting. Reminiscent of Glossy Ibis.

Initially we searched for a Humpback Whale to rise above the surf but when it didn’t show our interest in that waned a little when we heard of a Black Brant heading our way. It had been seen flying north within a flock of Brent Geese passing Hopton some 17 miles to the south. A back of an envelope calculation and we surmised it would be passing us in about 30 minutes.

We waited.

An approaching flock of Brents got our shutters firing but alas they were far too early.

We waited.

The first real cold winds of early winter started to nip at our fingers but we persevered. Eventually a flock of Brents appeared around the curve of the coast. Immediately apparent was the broader neck band, paler flanks and darker back of the Brant among them.

After it had passed us we celebrated with a hot drink … now that was worth waiting for!

Black Brant

The Brent is the second bird in the flock.


Breeding Brents??

It was getting late in the day when there was a knock at the door. It was Andy, he’d been walking the dog and found a Brent Goose in the corner of the next field and thought I may need it for my garden list. Indeed Brent Geese on the deck in this part of Norfolk are few and far between although they frequently fly by at sea. It was late the following morning before I had the time to venture out into a very cold day to go and take a look at it. At first I couldn’t find it where it had been the preceding day but eventually I saw it tucked away under a tangle of branches on a small pool. I would have needed a roof ladder and a good telescope to get it on the garden list where it was now! It was an adult bird and looked quite well but was obviously reluctant to fly. No doubt the very strong wind had exhausted it.

As I stood watching, it became aware of my presence and laid flat on the water. When I have seen Canada and Greylags doing this they have had a nest close by. My word that would be a turn up wouldn’t it? … breeding Brent Geese in Norfolk. Who could blame it though; with a minus five windchill and snow on the ground it must have seemed as though it was back on the tundra in Northern Russia!

Brent Goose


All is not always as it seems

Regularly each winter we get a Black Brant among the Brent Geese here in North Norfolk. Black Brants are a dark and moody Canadian race of the Brent Goose. They are a quite smart in comparison to the plentiful Brents.

When we heard of two Brants among a small flock of geese at Holkham on Wednesday it seemed too good to be true. It didn’t take us long to spot the contenders. Large white flank patches, broad neck collars meeting under the throat and a black belly extending far back towards the vent. The mantle however on both birds was far too pale; it should have been much darker. Both birds were hybrids; always a possibility with these beautiful geese. Still great to see.

Black Brant x Brent Goose Hybrid


Taking a gander at the geese

This year seems to be a little odd. Very few Acorns, very few berries and up until yesterday, when over 4000 Pinkfeet flew over Falcon Cottage, not as many geese as  would have expected either.

The sound of the Pinkfeet flying over is something worth hearing. A distant cackle rising to a conversation halting din but by far the best sound uttered by geese is the murmuring of Brents. These small travellers from the north are my favourite. I passed around 500 in a field on the coast the other day and managed to photograph one or two of them. I was struck by how few juveniles there were in the flock. I wonder if this is a concern. Perhaps we better reserve judgement until a little later into the winter when more have arrived.

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Mar 2023


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