Latin Name: Branta bernicla
Around 120,000 birds winter in the UK.
A small dark goose the
same size as a mallard duck. It has a black head and neck and grey-brown back
with a paler under belly. Adults have a small white neck patch. The undertail is
white and the tail is short and black. It flies in loose flocks along the coast.
There is also a light bellied (pale bellied) sub species which is mainly seen in
Europe, the body is different shades of grey-brown all over, the flanks and
belly are significantly paler than the back and present a marked contrast. The
head and neck are black, with a small white patch on either side of the neck.
In Britain: October-March
Life Span: Typically 11 years.
Statistics: 60cm long, weight 1.5kg and wingspan 115cm.
Habitat: Estuaries and saltmarshes.
Food: Vegetation especially eel-grass, will
also graze on land.
Breeding: 3-5 eggs,
incubation 24-26 days
Distribution: In the UK during the winter migration you can see them in
estuaries and saltmarshes. Main concentrations in the Wash, North Norfolk coast,
Essex estuaries, Thames Estuary and Chichester and Langston Harbours. Most
light-bellied birds are found at Strangford Lough, Castle Espie and Lough Foyle in Northern
Ireland and Lindisfarne in Northumberland. You will also find them in smaller
numbers in other places throughout the UK where there are lakes, reservoirs and
large bodies of water as well as in some Wetland reserves where captive birds
Behaviour: Nothing specific identified.
Worldwide least concern, in the UK Amber status -
for an explanation of the RSPB
Abbots Hall Farm,
Old Hall Marshes,
Holkham National Nature Reserve, Norfolk
Lough, Northern Ireland
WWT, Northern Ireland