Fly with the brent geese

Fly with the brent geese


Posted 28th Feb 2018


Dark-bellied brent geese will gather in their largest numbers in February, as they prepare for the long flight back to the Arctic

Around 91,000 dark-bellied brent geese travel to Britain each autumn, flying from their nesting grounds on the Taymyr Peninsula in Siberia. They spend their winter in our sheltered estuaries and coastal marshes on the east and south coasts, from the Humber round to Portland.

Around the same size as a mallard, brent geese are actually our smallest goose, and will have spent the winter feeding on eel grass and grazing in coastal fields.

As spring approaches, they gather together in their largest numbers at the start of February, preparing to make the long journey back to Arctic Russia - this will be the perfect time to visit them.

Large flocks will collect together, with a continual conversation of "ronking" and "cronking" taking place as they discuss the best feeding places and the ideal time to set off.

How to do it

Wrap up warm and head to one of their favoured haunts on the coast with a pair of binoculars. Spend the day enjoying your wild goose chase, and then finish the day off with a bag of chips.

If you can't visit one of the special places listed below...

Elsewhere, there will be around 5,000 birds of the pale-bellied sub-species visiting Lindisfarne from their breeding grounds on Svalbard, while around 35,000 fly all the way from eastern Arctic Canada to spend their winters around Ireland, predominantly in Northern Ireland.

Special spots

Cley Marshes is Norfolk Wildlife Trust's oldest and best-known nature reserve, and one of the first nature reserves in the country. It's also home to a large flock of brent geese which graze on Eye Field in the winter, sometimes attracting individuals of the rare black brant, a visitor from America.

Essex, The Naze

Essex, Two Tree Island

Hampshire, Farlington Marshes

Lincolnshire, Donna Nook

Lincolnshire, Gibraltar Point

Sussex, Rye Harbour

Text and information courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts / image courtesy of © Derek Moore





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