The Brants of Brant Point

by: Virginia Andrews

photography by: Virginia Andrews

It is the front door to the island. Old-timers would sometimes say about somebody who had just moved to Nantucket, usually somebody who thought he had the answer to an island problem, “He only just came around Brant Point.” It was not meant as a compliment.

Brant Point’s light is a navigational aid. And it is something more than that, part of island nomenclature. The name comes not from somebody named Brant, but from a kind of goose. It makes perfect sense that this goose is not a tourist goose, not a summertime goose, but is here during the off-season.

A Brant, called a Brent Goose in Europe, is a small, dark member of the family Anatidae, which includes ducks, geese and other waterfowl.

At first glance, a Brant looks a bit like a Canada Goose without the dramatic white chinstrap. Brant voices are muted in comparison, more of a wheezy snort than a honk, a subdued chatter rather than a gabble. Brant are much smaller in size, and more often found in marine environments, rather than grazing on lawns, farm fields or golf courses.

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