Posted by: coastlinesproject | March 25, 2012

East Coast, More Brant Because of Mass Lemming Suicides on the Arctic Circle.

Yesterday I saw about a dozen young brant on Crane’s Beach in Ipswich, Massachusett. You could tell they were the young of the year because they still had white feathers along the edges of their sides. The reason there are so many young brant this year for the same reason there are so many snowy owls. The ornithologist John Phillips saw the same thing at the Monomoy Brant Club in the 1800’s and realized it had something to do with conditions on their arctic breeding grounds. We now know that lemmings rapidly increase for about four years then commit mass suicide by swimming into the Arctic Ocean, When they do this their predators fox move off the tundra and into forests and snowy fly south to find alternate sources of food. Without predators the number of brant chicks rises rapidly, and we are seeing the result in the large populations of brant now stopping in New England on their way back to the breeding grounds.

Read more in “Shallow Waters; A Year on Cape Cod’s Pleasant Bay.” See Strawberry Hill tab at the top of this page.

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