One more brant photo post. The bird above demanded it. Again, here’s the original post.
You didn’t think I’d see thousands of brant and limit the experience to just one post, did you? Here is the first follow-up to Saturday’s post. The original post is here in case you missed it.
This brant is banded with silver bands on each leg. I can’t make out the numbers and letters, however.
Brant are geese that breed in the Arctic. Many of them spend the winter in New England and massive flocks may be found at various coastal sites in the region. One of those sites is Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk, Connecticut, where flocks numbering in the thousands hug the coast.
A quick visit to the park yesterday yielded a staggering number of brant. The birds were eating grass in the lawn areas of the park and were surprisingly tolerant of humans walking and jogging close by. Typically, the brant are seen on the beach near the water or on the water of Long Island Sound. Perhaps the birds were more tolerant because they are filling up for the pending migration. Just a thought.
Not all brant will depart at the same time. I’ve seen brant along the Connecticut coast as late as June. Those stragglers are likely young brant that aren’t ready to mate. At any rate, it’s nice to see the brant every year and they add a reliable bit of wildness to our coasts in the winter and spring.
Brant are often confused with Canada geese, but there are obvious differences. Brant are smaller and darker overall and do not have trademark white “chin strap” of the Canada goose. They do have a white marking under their chins, but it is not as large and pronounced as that of the Canada goose. The brants’ call is also croakier and quieter than the loud honk of the Canada goose.
For now, brant are still around in large numbers, which is good for New England birdwatchers. Many of them will depart shortly for points well north. Then we’ll be left to keep an eye out for the stragglers — or wait until late fall.
Here is a photograph showing a small portion of the flock.
Here is a shot of Canada geese, for the sake of comparison.
I love seeing Brant along Long Island Sound. It’s fascinating knowing a bird that is so close in the winter will be spending its summer in the Arctic. Of course, lots of birds we see in New England during the winter _ especially waterfowl _ nest far north of here, but few are as easily seen as Brant.
Brant, which look similar to Canada Geese but are smaller and have different markings, gather in massive flocks along parts of Long Island Sound from late fall to early spring. Many Brant are Continue reading
Here’s my next photo in the series of 2014 photos that I never got around to looking at and posting.
Here’s a small flock of Brant I saw in the spring of 2014. At certain locations along the coast of southern New England, Brant flocks can number in the hundreds along Long Island Sound. At Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk, Conn., the Brant flock pushes 1,000 birds or more.
Brant look somewhat similar to Canada Geese, but are smaller. A few individual Brant hang around New England through May and into June, but most of them return to their nesting grounds in the Arctic by March or April. It’s nice that they come visit us each winter.
The weather was actually quite nice (cold, but calm) and the birds were plentiful. A story about the Christmas Bird Count (Westport Circle) is posted on http://www.theour.com.
I personally had a good day, too, in terms of finding birds. Below are more photos from the interesting birds I found during the count. Yes, I realize the photos aren’t of great quality, but it was very overcast and the photos were taken mostly to prove what was seen. Some of the photos aren’t too bad, though. Anyway …
The highlight was the three warblers I saw at Oystershell Park in Norwalk. Even one warbler species is pretty rare for a New England Christmas Bird Count, but I had three at one location. The warblers were an Orange-crowned Warbler, Continue reading
I was filling out my Christmas Bird Count Captain’s Statistic Sheet (finally) and I had to question for a second my own numbers. Did I really see more than 1,000 Brant that day?
Then I recalled the massive flocks we had seen at Calf Pasture Beach that brisk morning. Count compilers Townsend and Mardi Dickinson were with me during that part of the day. They saw them, too. There were so many Brant it was hard to get a good count. (Watch the accompanying video to the end to see what we were up against. Not the best video of all times, but you will see what I’m talking about.)
Brant are geese that breed in the Arctic and head to somewhat warmer waters during the winter. From a distance, or to the untrained eye, they can easily be mistaken for Canada Geese. Brant, however, are much smaller and lack the white “chin strap” that is so obvious on Canada Geese.
Norwalk has been a hot spot for Brant for many years. Huge flocks can be seen from Calf Pasture Beach throughout winter. Sometimes they are on the water. Sometimes they are near the water. Sometimes the flock is divided with some on the water and some near the water. The flocks often number hundreds and hundreds of birds.
It’s a treat to hear their low honking (maybe more of an of uttering), much different and more pleasing than the Canada Goose’s honk. When hundreds of them get going at once, it’s an even bigger treat. (Again, check out the video to listen for yourself.)
Most of the Brant will have migrated north by April, but some individuals or small flocks will remain into June or even later. They are likely young birds that aren’t going to breed anyway and therefore do not feel the sense of urgency to fly to the Arctic breeding grounds.
One of the many reasons I like Brant is because they are a reliable winter sighting here in New England. Birdwatching makes the winters here bearable — dare I say enjoyable — and it’s species like Brant that make winter birding fun.
Here’s the video:
Click below to read the latest For the Birds column, which appears every Thursday in The Hour (Norwalk, CT) and Monday in The Keene Sentinel (Keene, NH). I talk about my experiences during the Dec. 15 Christmas Bird Count. Those are some lucky larks!
Oh, and Merry Christmas, everybody.