Dark-bellied Brent Goose at Clifford Hill

A Dark-bellied Brent Goose has been present with the goose flock on the main barrage lake at Clifford Hill Gravel Pits since Wednesday 2nd November, when it was found by Pete User. A first-winter (white-fringed secondaries and greater coverts and lacking the adult’s white neck patch), this is the only record so far this year of a species which produces just one or two records annually in the County. Late October to early November is the peak time. All previous records are of the dark-bellied race bernicla which breeds in northern Russia and winters on the east and south coasts of Britain. According to Mark Williams, who saw it on Sunday, it appears to have a bit of damage to its right eye and walks with a slight limp so it may stick around for some time yet. Some of my digiscoped pics below.

First-winter Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Clifford Hill GP, November 2011 (Mike Alibone)

There are apparently no local records of the pale-bellied race hrota which breeds in Franz Josef Land, Svalbard, Greenland and northeastern Canada, wintering in northeast England

First-winter Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Clifford Hill GP, November 2011 (Mike Alibone)

and Ireland and considered to be a separate species by a number of authorities. I would love to find one in Northants!

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