Sunday, 25 April 2010

Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis)

Latin Etymology: Branta ("burnt" from Old Norse) leucopsis ("white face")
Feral adult Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis) at Derwent Water, Cumbria -April 2010

Featured Subspecies: N/A
Weight: 1000-2250g  /  Length: 55-70cm  /  Wingspan: 130-145cm
UK AMBER LIST / IUCN Red List: Least Concern

Barnacle Geese are a slightly difficult bird to accurately designate, and it's not helped by the fact that this bird is quite probably a feral specimen. However, in summary they are a species which arrives during the winter in Scotland and Northern Ireland from Greenland and Svalbard. While relatively numerous where they do arrive, the fact it's in a relatively out the way location for only half the year means that unless you happen to be in the right place in Winter they are much harder to see. The native feral population, which according to the RSPB website numbers about three thousand is probably a much more viable bet and can be found anywhere, though resident flocks in the Lake District are probably some of the better bets.

Related Species:
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Genus: Branta
Subspecies:  none - monotypic

- Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - Breeds locally (900 pairs) and local Winter visitor (58,000 from Greenland,33,000 from Svalbard). Also feral (3000 birds).
 - A single bird at Rutland Water. A large feral flock at Derwent Water

Further Notes: BirdForum Opus, IUCN Red ListRSPBWikipedia, Xeno-canto


  1. Have you tried the London parks for these? Or indeed many rather hard-to-get waterfowl? Or would that be cheating?

  2. My rough policy on the parks is that if they are supposed to be there outside the collection then they're fair game, but if its blatantly part of a collection or directly escaped from one then it doesn't. The main problematic ones on that basis though are Red Crested Pochard and Mandarin, but as from what I understand there are both "wild" and domesticated ones there, I've just photographed ones away from the collection and hoped for the best seeing as they are all eventually feral anyway.