Dark-bellied Brent Goose Branta (bernicla) bernicla

The majority of Brent Geese wintering in Norfolk belong to the Dark-bellied form bernicla but careful scanning of the flocks will often reveal the presence of one or two Pale-bellied Brent Geese (form hrota) or even a Black Brant (form orientalis, formerly called nigricans but that name has now been bagged by the newly-described Grey-bellied Brant).

Dark-bellied Brent Geese sometimes hybridise with other forms of Brent Goose, especially Black Brant. Some photos of Black Brant x Dark-bellied Brent Goose hybrids appear on the Black Brant page.

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Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Brancaster Staithe (Norfolk, UK), 7th March 2007

 

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Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Burnham Overy (Norfolk, UK), 16th February 2013

 

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first-winter Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 10th November 2004 - photographed on the same day one of these already shows an white neck-collar and white flank markings while the other lacks these completely

 

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Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Brancaster Staithe (Norfolk, UK), 8th March 2011

 

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adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 31st December 2005

 

adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Wells (Norfolk, UK), 14th February 2012

 

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adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 31st December 2005

 

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first-winter Dark-bellied Brent Goose (with adult behind), Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 10th November 2004

 

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first-winter Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 10th November 2004

 

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adult Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Wells (Norfolk, UK), 19th November 2004

 

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adult Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Thornham (Norfolk, UK), 15th February 2016 - 3 birds

 

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one adult and two first-winter Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Thornham (Norfolk, UK), 22nd October 2011

 

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adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Burnham Overy (Norfolk, UK), 31st January 2009

 

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adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Brancaster Staithe, (Norfolk, UK), 11th November 2004

 

adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Burnham Deepdale (Norfolk, UK), 28th November 2003

 

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adult Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Brancaster Staithe (Norfolk, UK), 21st November 2012

 

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adult Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Burnham Overy (Norfolk, UK), 10th January 2004

 

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adult Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Holkham (Norfolk, UK), 15th January 2005

 

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juvenile Brent Goose, Titchwell (Norfolk, UK), 3rd January 2009 - I think this is Dark-bellied and the paleness of the belly is exaggerated by the light reflecting from the water (the last two photos are clearly a bit over-exposed); however I'm open to other suggestions...

 

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adult and juvenile Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Titchwell (Norfolk, UK), 7th November 2009

 

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adult Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Brancaster Staithe (Norfolk, UK), 7th January 2014

 

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adult Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Wells (Norfolk, UK), 6th December 2008

 

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adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Brancaster Staithe (Norfolk, UK), 15th February 2006

 

adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Brancaster Staithe (Norfolk, UK), 11th November 2004

 

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adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Brancaster Staithe (Norfolk, UK), 30th November 2007

 

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adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Titchwell (Norfolk, UK), 26th March 2004

 

adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Burnham Deepdale (Norfolk, UK), 28th November 2003

 

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adult Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Brancaster Staithe (Norfolk, UK), 16th October 2007

 

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first-winter (left) and adult (right) Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Brancaster Staithe (Norfolk, UK), 16th November 2007

 

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adult Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Brancaster Staithe (Norfolk, UK), 19th December 2007

 

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first-winter Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 31st December 2005

 

first-winter Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Brancaster Staithe (Norfolk, UK), 15th March 2006

 

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first-winter Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Brancaster Staithe (Norfolk, UK), 12th November 2007

 

Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Brancaster Staithe (Norfolk, UK), 22nd April 2008

 

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Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Cley (Norfolk, UK), 5th January 2008

 

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Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Brancaster Staithe (Norfolk, UK), 6th November 2007

 

adult Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Brancaster Staithe (Norfolk, UK), 15th November 2005

 

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adult Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Brancaster Staithe (Norfolk, UK), 3rd January 2009

 

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adult Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Brancaster Staithe (Norfolk, UK), 30th November 2007

 

adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 20th November 2004

 

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Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Cley (Norfolk, UK), 6th October 2012

 

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adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Sheringham (Norfolk, UK), 25th September 2013

 

Leucistic Dark-bellied Brent Geese

Individuals with varying degrees of white speckling on their heads appear quite frequently. Here are a few examples:

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adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose with extensive white speckling on head, Cley (Norfolk, UK), 28th February 2004

 

adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose with white speckling on head, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 18th January 2004

 

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adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose with extensive white speckling on head, Cley (Norfolk, UK), 5th January 2008

 

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adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose with slight white speckling on head, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 20th November 2004

 

adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose with white speckling on head, Cley (Norfolk, UK), 5th January 2008

 

adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose with extensive white speckling on head, Stiffkey (Norfolk, UK), 31st January 2009

 

More unusually two birds that were very pale all over turned up at Cley as juveniles in the autumn of 2010. They returned as adults the following winter:

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adult leucistic Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Cley (Norfolk, UK), 3rd December 2011 - the lower two photos show one bird and the top four the second bird: although in the same flock these two birds were not keeping together as they had done in 2010

 

One or the following birds stood out from the flock in having much paler upperparts (due mainly to broad pale fringes not only to the wing-coverts but also the mantle) as well as underparts a bit on the pale side. A second bird was similar though not nearly so obvious, and both of these birds showed slightly paler head and neck than other young Brent Geese in the flock. There were 2-3 other birds which may possibly have been siblings showed broader-than-average pale wing-coverts, though not especially unusually so. The explanation is currently unclear, however I am assured that they are not they offspring of the mixed pairing of Pale-bellied Brent Goose and Dark-bellied Brent Goose that have been in the area recently.

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Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Cley, 24th November 2013 - leucistic or just a very pale extreme?