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Brent Goose

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.

See Larger Image Andreas Trepte

Animal Facts

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

Conservation Status

Least Concern

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 are held.

Behaviour: Nothing specific identified.

Conservation Status: Worldwide least concern, in the UK Amber status - for an explanation of the RSPB Status - click here.


See Also

Winter Migrants

Abbots Hall Farm, Essex

Old Hall Marshes, Essex

Holkham National Nature Reserve, Norfolk

Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland

Castle Espie WWT, Northern Ireland 



By: Tracey Park Section: Wildlife Key:
Page Ref: brent_goose Topic: Birds  Last Updated: 03/2010

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