1/24 - "BLACK" BRANT and other eastern CT goodies

"Black" Brant (Branta bernicla nigricans), Harkness State Park, Waterford CT

The past year has been a very good one for unusual Brant in CT. Back in April CT's first "Black" Brant was discovered in Stratford, followed by two possible "Gray-bellied" Brant in Norwalk in the fall.

While searching the eastern CT shoreline for Ivory Gull yesterday I had a few nice birds highlighted by a striking "Black" Brant (B. b. nigricans) that was keeping company with about 70 typical "Atlantic" Brant at Harkness SP in Waterford. First picked up in flight among ~20 Brant, its blackish belly was obvious. It then put down on the water where its white necklace and darker upperparts were seen well. After much time in the water it decided to feed on the lawn, giving fantastic scope views. Phil Rusch, also out looking nearby for IVGU, came over to have a look. Really a sharp-looking bird.

An equally surprising find (given the focus on gulls) was a roosting Long-eared Owl at one of my coastal stops, given away by a few mobbing American Crows. As I approached the ruckus the crows dispersed, and I was able to find the owl hiding in a dense patch of tangles. It actually looked somewhat relieved to see me, not in full alert pose as I expected...perhaps grateful for scaring off the crows!

Long-eared Owl

Phil and I also enjoyed killer views of three uncommon species. First, we located an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull on the icy cove at Harkness with 200+ Herring Gulls.

Lesser Black-backed Gull

Also, two drake Common Eider were hanging out right around the Stonington Fish Pier.

Common Eider; normally rare in CT waters, this is a banner winter with several hundred recently seen

Lastly, two Purple Sandpipers were directly in front of us at the Stonington Pt parking lot.

Purple Sandpiper

No Ivory Gull yesterday, but it was one of those days where we enjoyed fantastic views of several scarce species.

- Nick


  1. Awesome Black Brant! Virginia still needs a good record ....

  2. Nice Brant...

    You hear about the IVGU in Georgia? You'd think that CT would get one before an inland lake on the GA/AL line...

  3. Amazing Ben! Wow, another adult. Things are clearly not going well for Ivory Gull in the arctic...

    Thanks guys for the comments.

  4. This Brant has a much thicker 'necklace' than the Stratford bird, at least to me. Did you compare photos? I don't know the likelyhood of it being the same bird, but it doesn't look like it to me.

    Nice find(s)!! (gotta love when passerines dig out owls!)

  5. Hey Brian, not sure I can tell. My photos of the Stratford bird were pretty crummy so it's tough to tease out the necklace detail.

  6. Yeah.. the Georgia bird edges out the old California record for southernmost Ivory Gull in the world.

    Oddly, there haven't been nearly as many in Newf. as last winter.


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