Salty Fly-in Salad Bar for Brant Geese

May 16, 2018


Photographer: Rob Sheridan 
Summary Author: Rob Sheridan 

Several locales on the Massachusetts coast are critically important rest and refueling stops for avian species navigating the Atlantic Flyway during their long annual journey between far northern breeding grounds and southern winter quarters. Interesting visitors are common during these fall and spring mass migrations. One such seasonal caller is the Brant Goose (Branta bernicla), a fascinating very small goose specially adapted for life on the salty edge of cold, rough oceans. Like most geese, the Brant is primarily a vegetarian, consuming a variety of seaweeds and eelgrass. Living a marine life entirely, they drink saltwater and have evolved highly efficient salt-excreting glands at the base of their bills.

They breed in the very far north, along the coasts of northern Alaska and Canada and the shores of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Pacific birds winter along the west coast of California and Mexico. Atlantic birds winter along the mid and southeast coast of the United States, making an incredible 3,000 mile flight each way along the Atlantic Flyway. Shown in this photo are a gaggle of Brants, with their very distinctive markings, in very early spring off the coast of Squantum, Massachusetts. They're refueling on tasty tidal vegetation en route to their northern breeding grounds. Photo taken on March 25, 2018.

Photo Details: Camera: NIKON COOLPIX P900; Software: Adobe Photoshop Elements 14.0 (Windows); Exposure Time: 0.0040s (1/250); Aperture: ƒ/5.6; ISO equivalent: 400; Focal Length (35mm): 1100.