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Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Barnacle Goose

Bird Sightings : Barnacle Goose

Barnacle Geese

(Rood Goose, Barny, Grollog)

Branta leucopsis

Gaelic: Cathan

Photograph © Andy L
Tiumpanhead - Isle of Lewis - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
January 16th, 2008

"... what an awesome day it was today i did get out for a short time and managed to photograph a few barnacle geese there were approx 30 of them on loch Tiumpan Point and managed to get a couple of flight shots."


Our Barnacle Goose photographs

Barnacle Geese
Barnacle Geese
Barnacle Geese


  • Barnacle Goose (Rood Goose, Barny, Grollog)
  • Branta leucopsis
  • UK AMBER LIST 1000 feral birds breeding, Winter visitors 67,000, (Oct - Mar) RSPB
  • WI: Fairly common passage visitor (usually occurs in small numbers but sometimes seen in good numbers) and winter visitor (usually occurs in small numbers).
  • Breeds: Nests: high cliffs North Atlantic Arctic Islands: East Greenland, Spitsbergen, Northern Russia
  • Winters: South of breeding area to South Europe
  • Habitat: Wetland meadows, marsh, rivers (estuaries on migration)
  • Diet: shoots, leaves
  • Medium-sized, sociable goose. Creamy-white face. Black head, neck & breast. White belly. Blue-grey barred back. Wings and its back silver-grey with black-and-white bars. Black tail.
  • Flight: V-shaped white rump patch & silver-grey underwing visible. Flies in packs & long lines, with barking, yapping chorus
  • Max recorded age 26yrs 8mths, typical lifespan 12yrs
  • Listen to a barnacle goose (RSPB site)


In the Arctic where most of the Barnacle Geese breed, Polar Bears are a problem, so the birds nest high on cliffs. When the 3 day old goslings are hungry they jump off the cliffs. Many of them die in this process. The surviving goslings then have a half mile hike to their feeding areas, stalked by Arctic foxes along the way.



Main Barnacle Goose Populations
Breeding Wintering Population
Eastern Greenland Hebrides 40,000

Svalbard Archipelago

(Between Norway & North Pole)

Solway Firth 24,000

Novaya Zemlya Archipelago

(North of Russia)

Netherlands 130,000

Baltic Sea islands

(Estonia, Finland, Denmark, and Sweden)

Netherlands 8,000
(Source WIKI)



Barnacle Goose records in the Western Isles

Fairly common passage visitor (usually occurs in small numbers but sometimes seen in good numbers) and winter visitor (usually occurs in small numbers).
Source: Outer Hebrides Bird Report (2001)

On the chart below the darker the shade of blue the more abundant the Barnacle Goose is during a month or the more likely you are to see it.

























(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)



Collective nouns for Geese

A nide of geese
A gaggle of geese
A flock of geese
A wedge of geese (flying)
A skein of geese (flying)



Other local bird photographs

Sources of information for the bird sightings section

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