Pale-bellied Brent Goose Branta (bernicla) hrota

Careful scanning of the flocks of Dark-bellied Brent Geese wintering in Norfolk will often reveal the presence of one or two individuals belonging to the Pale-bellied form, now considered to be a separate species by some of the less conservative authorities.

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adult Pale-bellied Brent Goose (with Dark-bellied Brent Geese), Burnham Norton (Norfolk, UK), 13th March 2010

 

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first-winter Pale-bellied Brent Goose (with Dark-bellied Brent Geese), Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 13th February 2010

 

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adult Pale-bellied Brent Goose (with Dark-bellied Brent Geese), Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 13th February 2010 - six photos showing the same bird, a particularly striking individual

 

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adult Pale-bellied Brent Goose (with Dark-bellied Brent Geese), Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 13th February 2010 - four photos showing the same bird but a different one from the six above

 

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adult Pale-bellied Brent Goose (with Dark-bellied Brent Geese), Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 13th February 2010 - a different bird from the ones shown above

 

adult Pale-bellied Brent Goose (with Dark-bellied Brent Geese), Cley (Norfolk, UK), 3rd December 2011

 

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

 

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adult Pale-bellied Brent Goose (with Dark-bellied Brent Geese), Burnham Norton (Norfolk, UK), 28th February 2009

 

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adult Pale-bellied Brent Geese (with Dark-bellied Brent Geese), Burnham Overy (Norfolk, UK), 10th January 2004. These two appeared to be different individuals from the one above.

 

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adult Pale-bellied Brent Goose (with Pink-footed Geese), Docking (Norfolk, UK), 16th December 2003. Unusually, this elusive individual spent the winter with Pink-footed Geese rather than Dark-bellied Brent Geese. It moved with the Pink-feet to feed on harvested sugar-beet fields well inland in north-west Norfolk. The same bird has returned in subsequent winters and I saw it briefly at the same location in October 2006.

 

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adult Pale-bellied Brent Goose (with Pink-footed Geese), Bircham (Norfolk, UK), 18th January 2008 - the same bird as above?

 

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adult Pale-bellied Brent Goose (with Pink-footed Geese), Amner (Norfolk, UK), 17th November 2009 - still the same returning bird, or a new one?

 

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first-winter Pale-bellied Brent Goose (with Pink-footed Geese), between Fring and Shernborne (Norfolk, UK), 8th February 2014 - an adult similar to the one above is still frequenting the Pink-feet flocks, but this young bird is clearly a new individual

 

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first-winter Pale-bellied Brent Goose (with Dark-bellied Brent Geese), Cley (Norfolk, UK), 5th January 2008

 

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adult Pale-bellied Brent Goose (with Dark-bellied Brent Geese), Cley (Norfolk, UK), 3rd January 2011

 

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adult Pale-bellied Brent Goose (with Dark-bellied Brent Geese), Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 6th December 2014 - this individual is at the duskier end of the range of variation for Pale-bellied Brent Goose, and the Dark-bellied Brent Goose with it is at the paler-bellied end of the range of variation for Dark-bellied Brent Goose: maybe they are in fact both hybrids? A mixed pair with hybrid young was present in the area the previous winter, so could these be the same returning birds?

 

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adult Pale-bellied Brent Goose and 3 juvenile Pale-bellied Brent Goose x Dark-bellied Brent Goose hybrids (with Dark-bellied Brent Geese), Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 18th December 2014 - if you click on most of these the larger version that comes up is annotated to show which birds are the hybrids; the single bird flight shots are crops of other photos and the two photos at the bottom are crops of the one above

 

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adult Pale-bellied Brent Goose and 3 juvenile Pale-bellied Brent Goose x Dark-bellied Brent Goose hybrids (with Dark-bellied Brent Geese), Cley (Norfolk, UK), 14th February 2015 - although I could not establish beyond doubt that the three young birds were the offspring of the Pale-bellied Brent Goose the fact that they were with it and two in particular seemed to paler-bellied than I would expect a young Dark-bellied Brent Goose to be makes me pretty confident they were the same family party photographed at Salthouse (above); the young bird in flight in the lower three photos was not observed to be one of the three birds seen with the adult at rest but I'm pretty sure it was one of them

 

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adult Pale-bellied Brent Goose (with Dark-bellied Brent Geese), Cley Hangs (Norfolk, UK), 26th December 2013

 

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Pale-bellied Brent Geese, Roa Island causeway (Cumbria, UK), 27th December 2012

 

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adult Pale-bellied Brent Goose (with Dark-bellied Brent Geese), Cley (Norfolk, UK), 22nd February 2014

 

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

 

adult Pale-bellied Brent Goose (with Pink-footed Geese), Bircham (Norfolk, UK), 2nd December 2014

 

I'm not convinced about the identity of the following bird. Among Dark-bellied Brent Geese it stood out as having very pale flanks, reminiscent of Black Brant. No other features even remotely suggested Black Brant though! It didn't look like Pale-bellied, and although it's not apparent from these rubbish photos, I'm pretty sure the grey on the belly extended between the legs which it wouldn't on Pale-bellied. But I wonder if it could be a hybrid Pale-bellied x Dark-bellied? The small pale mark on the neck might support that ID. I'm assuming it's not a Grey-bellied Brent Goose, though in all honestly am not sure how I would tell from these photos.

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possible hybrid Pale-bellied Brent Goose x Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Burnham Overy (Norfolk, UK), 3rd January 2011