Brant (Branta bernicla hrota) at Lake Crabtree, Wake Co., NC
On 11 October 2005, Doug Shadwick discovered a flock of five on the lawn of Lake Crabtree County Park [birding guide | official site]. I took these digiscoped photographs the next day; the birds were last seen on 13 October. The wary bird at left is one of two adults in this flock, which may be a family group.
These are of the "Pale-bellied" race, which breeds in northern Canada and winters along the Atlantic coast. Brant are very rare in the Piedmont of North Carolina - there are only a couple of prior reports from the Triangle area. The most reliable place to see Brant in NC is in the Pamlico Sound from the Ocracoke- Hatteras ferry - it's a rare treat to see them this closely!
|One of the three juvenile Brant. Note that the head, neck, and breast are chocolate brown instead of black; the white patch on the neck (the "necklace") is mostly missing; the flanks are less heavily mottled; and the wing feathers have white edges.|
|The juveniles were not nearly as wary (or aware) as the adults.|
|Adult keeping a wary eye on us as the young'un blithely nibbles on grass.|
|Again an adult (right) is keeping watch.|
|Goose-butt trio. An adult is in the foreground; the two in the background with are juvenile.|
|The flock kept in almost constant motion.|
|Brant on the lawn with Lake Crabtree in the background. This was taken with full camera zoom (4x), the others were digiscoped (Nikon CoolPix 995 + Kowa TSN-824) at about 80x. Since it was a dim overcast day, I had to use ISO 200 or 400 - so these photos are a little grainy.|