A great find by Jon Bowley at Boddington Reservoir this afternoon was the first confirmed Pale-bellied Brent Goose for Northamptonshire. Possibly associated with Storm Arwen, its arrival today coincided with that of a Common Scoter at the same locality. Interestingly, both birds remained close together while on the water this afternoon.
Pale-bellied Brent Goose is the race hrota, which breeds from the east Canadian Arctic to Svalbard and winters on both coasts of the north Atlantic. It would appear to be exceedingly rare inland and all previous occurrences of Brent Geese in Northants have related to the Dark-bellied race bernicla, which occurs in the county annually in very small numbers, normally as lone individuals joining flocks of Canada Geese for short periods of time during spring and autumn passage.
Identification is straightforward, Pale-bellied showing strong contrast between the sharply-demarcated black breast, pale belly and flanks, with the pale brown upperparts ‘sandwiched’ between black neck and the black feathers of the closed wing. Dark-bellied is much more uniformly coloured. The lack of whitish fringes to the upper wing coverts easily ages it as an adult.