Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Dundrum, County Down, Northern Ireland

Inner bay and surrounds
Grey-bellied brant goose 1 adult
Dark-bellied brent goose 1 adult
Pale-bellied brent goose 300
Grey plover 20
Dunlin 200
Little Egret 2
Greenshank 1
Wigeon 500
Teal 500
Bullfinch 1

Irish sea
Common scoter 300
Red-throated diver 2
Razorbill 10
Guillemot 10
Red-breasted merganser 20

The status of the brents always seems a little uncertain to me. I'm never sure what to count and what not to. The rule of thumb I adopt is, black brant (nigricans) is a separate species to dark-bellied (bernicla) and pale-bellied (horta) which are races of a second species. But where does grey-bellied brant fit in? Some folk reckon that it's an intermediate between horta and nigricans, possibly a hybrid, but in many respects it's more like a washed out nigricans so maybe it's a subspecies of black brant. Perhaps it's even a species in its own right, making three species of brent goose (or even four if you count bernicla and horta as separate species!). Complicated stuff!

So, making up my own rules and counting Grey-bellied brant as a race of black brant, we come to the following conclusion.........Year 252 (Grey-bellied brant goose)..... give me a break, I went all the way to Northern Ireland to see this bird, I've got to be able to tick it somewhere!

Pick out the brents! All three races of brent seen today are in at least one of these four photographs somewhere. The pale-bellied and dark-bellied are easy enough to spot, but the grey-bellied is a different matter! Answers on a postcard.....


 I didn't have much time to spare today, but desperately wanted to try for the grey-bellied brant, so I arrived at Dundrum for first light and was rewarded with a stunning sunrise over the estuary, and my first sight of brents.


1 comment:

  1. I know, but it's the only one since I removed that dodgy ruddy shelduck at Frodsham....