Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Water Street Peregrines, Rock River Bald Eagles, and Brant Geese in Brooklyn, BRANT GEESE???

Photo by James O'Brien
James had the wonderful opportunity to photograph the DEP banding of New York City's 55 Water St. Peregrine Falcons. As you can see Mom is not the least bit amused though all was well in the end, of course.

Photo by James O'Brien
Here is the basket of babies waiting to be examined, measured, and banded. It turned out to be a nice even, 2 females and 2 males.

Photo by James O'Brien
Check out the whole sequence of the proceedings on James' Flickr site-
And for commentary too, his blog--

Photo by Donna Browne
Rock and Jane the Janesville Area Rock River Eagles, Oct. 2009

This Spring there have been a number of sightings of a Bald Eagle flying along the Rock River in Janesville, WI. Blog contributor Beakerless has seen the Eagle several times and as of a week and a half ago, he saw an Eagle again. The thought is that the other Eagle in the pair is tending a nest which we haven't discovered yet. If we could find the nest, it would be the only verified Bald Eagle nest in the County.

From local watcher, Beakerless-
April 30th saw a mature Bald Eagle fishing the river near the Library and Racine St Bridge in Janesville. On May 1st we were walking the Spring Brook Trail and saw a mature Bald Eagle scoop up a fish and fly into the trees near the bridge at the beginning of the trail. Near Marling Lumber yard. Not sure if it was a male or female but it was awesome.

Marling Lumber yard is on the bank of the Rock River directly across from where the Eagles, pictured above, were fishing and roosting in the evening last fall.

Photo by W. A. Walters
Bill Walters, our usual gleaner of the NYTimes, happened to be doing extra work on a movie in Red Hook, Brooklyn when he noticed these geese in the harbor about 2 miles east of The Statue of Liberty.

Photo by W. A. Walters
At least he thought they were geese though he said there was something duck-like about them, perhaps their way of swimming?

I looked closely, they weren't Canada Geese. The proportion is different and the coloring. They look small to me. Besides where is that big white face patch?

I'd not seen these birds before. Which isn't all that unusual when it comes to waterfowl as we know. I pulled out the field guide and started looking.

Ah ha! Well probably ah ha! Standing there next to the Barnacle Goose in The Peterson's Field Guide, Birds of Eastern and Central North America, Fifth Edition, is the Brant Goose, Branta hernicla.

They are smaller than canadensis, check. But the telling field mark, beyond "Where's the white head patch?" as there are other geese besides the Canadian ones with a white head patch, is the fact that the black of their necks goes to the waterline, check, whereas a Canada Goose has that big chunk of buffy breast above the waterline. And if it were a Barnacle Goose, yes the black would go to the waterline but it would also have a white head patch that includes their eyes.

If you look closely the Brant Goose does have just a bit of white on it's upper neck but nothing nearly large enough to cause you confusion.

And yes, check, for habitat they are found "mainly salt bays, estuaries" so the harbor fits fine. Of course these guys are just passing through as they spend their summers nesting in the tundra.

All that fit, check, check, check, but I was still having my waterfowl I.D. paranoia so I emailed a shot to photographer and excellent birder Francois Portmann asking if they were indeed Brant Geese. He concurred.

It is ever so much nicer to get it right---than to get it wrong, isn't it?

Donegal Browne

1 comment:

beakerless said...

I just saw the pair of bald eagles at the Racine Street bridge in Janesville. Both were fully mature and one was significantly larger than the other. They were again flying low over the river looking for fish. I haven't seen them through the summer months and was overjoyed to see them back again.