Thursday, October 20, 2011

Brant! - 20 Oct 2011

I checked e-mail at lunch today and saw that Allen Chartier had found a Brant (Branta bernicla) on Belle Isle this morning among a flock of Canada Geese.  I had not seen a Brant in Michigan since 1988, when I spotted three birds flying across the mouth of the Cheboygan River in the northern lower peninsula of Michigan.  So, I grabbed the camera gear and spotting scope and planned to head over to Belle Isle after work.

I arrived at Belle Isle Park, Detroit shortly after 2:30 pm and headed east along Central Avenue toward the zoo.  Allen had found the bird along Riverside this morning, so I kept my eyes peeled for any flocks of Canada Geese.  Rain had been falling since noon and winds were now gusting, so it was going to be tough photographing the bird (if still around). 

I found the bird almost immediately; it was among the first group of Canada Geese I spotted in the grass between Riverside and Central (just west of Vista).  The grass was flooded and the birds were foraging in the grass and swimming in the temporary lake to my left.  I opened the window and took a few images w/ the D300s and 300/2.8VRII and TC1.4II.

I wanted to get closer, so I quietly headed to the shelter between me and the birds, where I squatted behind the picnic tables to try to take shelter from the driving rain, and took dozens of photographs as the bird swam in the open water. 

I then walked back to the car and grabbed the scope.  As I returned to the shelter the birds started moving toward Riverside and Vista.  I spent some time digiscoping the Brant until it was out of view among the trees.

Heading back to the car I then drove around to Riverside, where I was able to roll down the window and photograph the Brant from only 30' away.  I emptied the card.  The bird ignored me the whole time. 

Allen had mentioned that this was an adult bird.  And sure enough, it appeared to lack any significant pale fringing along the back feathers.  It was much, much smaller than the Canada Geese feeding nearby, but felt comfortable feeding among them.  It was constantly moving so that it was always among the larger birds.

With the rains refusing to let up, I headed for home.  Many thanks to Allen, Caleb (Putnam) and Mike (Sefton) for posting updates on the bird.


dAwN said...

Cool! Nice shots..

Nate said...

You nailed it with that first image! Nice job!

Regency said...

Thanks for the photos, very neat. Especially like the ones with the Canadian Geese to see the size comparisons. Thanks again.

Janet said...

Fantastic shots, Jerry. Congrats on finding this elusive bird in yesterday's horrible weather.

Paul Poronto said...

Awesome shots!

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