A young Black-bellied brent goose Branta bernicla nigricans (Lawrence, 1846) was found dead in a fishing net in Lake Lebedinoye (Tumen River valley, southern Primorskii Krai, Russia), one kilometer from shore, on November 7, 2014.
Specific characters. This was a small-sized goose with dark-colored plumage without brown spots and with a white undertail; its bill and legs were black (Fig. 1). The head and neck were black and there were solitary white feathers starting to form the characteristic “collar” of an adult bird. The breast and belly were dark. The wings had a distinct transverse pattern and the feathers on the bird’s back were highlighted by light edges. The bird weighed 1,205 g and had a wing length of 31 cm.
The Brent goose is considered a rare species; it is listed in the Red Data Books of the Russian Federation, Northern Russian Far East, and Kamchatka, and is in Appendix II of the Bonn Convention and appendices of bilateral agreements between Russia, the United States, Japan, North Korea, and South Korea on conservation of migratory birds (Krechmar, 1998; Red Data Book …, 2001; Gerasimov, 2006).
The global population of the B. b. nigricans subspecies is estimated at approximately 135,000 (Gerasimov, 2006). In Russia, this goose is rare even within its breeding area; it nests sporadically on islands and coasts of Yakutia and Chukotka from the Lena River estuary to the Bering Strait and Lake Pekulneiskoye. In some years, the number of breeding birds on Wrangel Island may reach a several hundred pairs.
The species is observed regularly on the Kamchatka Peninsula during seasonal migrations. In spring, flocks numbering from a few to 200 individuals are recorded in various parts of the coast. In autumn, aggregations of hundreds to several thousand individuals are observed in the Olyutorskii and Karaginskii Bays: in Kavacha Lagoon, Karaga Bay, Makaryevskii estuary, in the Ivashka River estuary, and in Malamvayam Lagoon. Some of the birds that breed in Russia leave for wintering grounds on the Pacific coast of the United States and Mexico. The other portion spends the winter off the coasts of Japan, Korea, and China (Gerasimov, 2006).
Within the territory of Primorskii Krai, the Black-bellied brent goose has been recorded several times. It had been recorded several times as a rare migrating subspecies along the coastal areas of the Sea of Japan, and once in the interior territories. In spring, it occurred on the De Friz Peninsula (Omelko, 1956), in Ussuri Bay and Muravyinaya Bay (Nechaev, 2003), Lake Khanka (Glushchenko et.al, 1997)], Kiyevka River (Shokhrin, 2005), Tachingouza Bay (2013; J.C. Slaght, pers. comm.), and Lake Blagodatnoye in north-east Primorskii Krai (Elsukov, 2013. In autumn it has been observed only in extreme southwest Primorskii Krai (Cherskii, 1915 and Shibaev, 1974).
Unfortunately, very little information regarding sequences of some DNA markers of Brent goose can be found in world’s genetic databases. Thus, a genetic analysis of this specimen can be used as a reference point for the study of population structure and migration routes of subspecies Black-bellied brent geese.
The authors are sincerely grateful to V.A. Nechaev for careful review of this text and providing valuable and useful comments, and for his kind assistance in the literature search.