Goose, Dark-bellied Brant
The Dark-bellied Brant Goose is homogeneously dark grey-brown all over with flanks and a belly that are not considerably paler than the back. They have a black head and neck with a small white patch on either side of the neck. They are very similar to the Light-bellied Brant Goose with which they are easily confused. They can be differentiated by the darker and more extensive grey coloring on the flanks and back of the Dark-bellied Brant and the white flank patch, which is reduced to a stripe along the flanks in the Light-bellied Brent Goose. The young Light-bellied Brent also lack the white flank patch, but have an extensive white barring on the back, which is not shown by adults. Dark-bellied Brant Geese have a sharp demarcation from the lower breast, belly, and flank, which are light grayish-brown. They have dark brown back and wing coverts with black wing tips and a vent, under-tail and upper-tail coverts that are white but only clearly visible in flight. Their tail, bill, legs and feet are all black in color.
The Dark-bellied Brant Goose's breeding and feeding habitat is at coasts, tidal estuaries, inland agricultural land and low-lying wet coastal tundra. It breeds on the Arctic coasts of central and western Siberia and spends the winter in Western Europe, some of them being in southern England, the rest between northern Germany and northern France.
The Dark-bellied Brant Goose's favorite food is eel-grass found in coastal estuaries though they also feed on other estuarine plants such as glassworts and sea aster, and to a lesser extent grasses and cereals.
Dark-bellied Brant Geese have dark meat which some say tastes like well done roast beef. They have a thick fat layer between the skin and meat but the meat itself is very lean.
Dark-bellied Brant Geese make a bowl-shaped nest using grass and down on an elevated place or often in a small pond. They start breeding when they are 2 or 3 years old. The female lays 2 to 5 eggs from mid to late June. The incubation period lasts 24 to 26 days before the goslings hatch. A week following hatching, they are led by the adults from island nest sites to food-rich riverbanks and coastal areas of the mainland. They are fledged when they are 40 days old. Occasionally, the Dark-bellied Brant Geese mate with other species of Brant Geese, especially the Black Brant and form hybrid breeds. Dark-bellied Brant Geese produce a low, hoarse, throaty rolling “c-r-r-onk, crr-ronk' vocalization.
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