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.

All photographs and text ©2013 by Will Cook unless otherwise noted.