Saturday, 14 March 2020

Grey-bellied brant, Banks Marsh

Back in April 2018 I reported seeing a grey-bellied brant on the Ribble at Banks Marsh and the same bird is back again for its third winter. Any species or subspecies of goose is worth a look and this bird is a real cracker.

Obviously with the brents there are dark-bellied and pale-bellied races, and these races are not just separated by how dark their bellies are, their upper parts also differ, with dark-bellied having uniformly black upperparts whilst pale-bellied have browner upperparts with feathers pale fringed giving them a more scaly look. Black brant and grey-bellied brant differ in the same way, with black brant more akin to dark-bellied brent and grey-bellied more akin to pale-bellied.

I've never yet managed to see this bird particularly close and today it was about 1.5km distant so in that respect I'm happy enough with the photos.

So far as I know, unlike black brant, grey-bellied brant is not recognised as a separate subspecies of brent goose.

There's also been a Todd's Canada goose with the flock and I'm fairly sure that this is it though I can't be 100% certain. Again this was about 1.5km distant (just over a mile) so not the easiest of birds to identify with a moderate breeze shaking the scope and with several feral Canadas also on the marsh, but to me it looks nice and dark especially on the flanks, it's about the right size and the right proportions and the bill looks ok. If you were to argue that the area around the base of the black sock on the neck looks a bit pale I might agree, but I would point out that there are other photos circulating of this bird which also show this pale breast. I would then go on to suggest that this area is still darker than that of a typical feral Canada so I'm happy to stick with my identification of this bird.

However, if anybody has a different opinion I'm more than happy to hear it.

I also managed to pick out a Russian whitefront today.

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