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Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Brent Geese

Hebrides bird sightings - Brent Goose
The loose flock formation of Brent Geese (not V-shaped skeins)

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Brent Geese

(Pale-bellied Brent Goose, Light-bellied Brent Goose, Atlantic Brant, Brant)

Branta bernicla hrota

Gaelic: Gèadha-got


Photograph © Suzanne Harris
Great Bernera - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
27th September, 2008

"Something new in 'my patch' today - 45 Pale-bellied Brent Geese..huddled together forming a very tight raft near Bernera Bridge...they took to the sky and headed off to the west"


Our Brent Geese photographs

Brent Geese
Brent Geese
Brent Goose
Brent Goose
Brent Geese
Brent Goose
Brent Geese
flight formation


  • Brent Goose
  • Branta bernicla
  • Gaelic: Gèadha-got
  • WI: Brent Geese are uncommon passage visitors (recorded in low numbers each year, but sometimes a few more occur) and rare winter visitors (less than 30 records).
  • UK AMBER LIST, (101,000 birds winter) BTO
  • Breeds: North Russia, North America, Canada, Greenland, Spitsbergen
  • Winters: South of breeding range to USA, Africa, China,
  • Habitat: Tundra, (migration marshes, estuaries)
  • Diet: Grazing inter-tidal eelgrass and other vegetation
  • Smallest & darkest goose (mallard sized). Black head & neck. Grey-brown back. Grey-white lower breast & flanks 'pale-bellied'. Short, stubby bill. (Adults small white neck patch). Pure-white under-tail. Tail black & very short (shortest of any goose). Flies in loose flocks (not skeins)
  • Max recorded age 18yr 10mths
  • Listen to a Brent Goose (RSPB site)
  • SImilar birds: Barnacle Geese (white faces)


Brent geese are very dependent upon inter-tidal eel-grass and in the 1950's this plant declined due to a parasitic disease and the UK wintering brent numbers dropped drastically. Measures were introduced to recover the eelgrass and there are now about 100,000 brents in the UK in winter, roughly an eight-fold increase on the 1950's numbers.


Brent Goose records in the Western Isles

Brent Geese are uncommon passage vistors (recorded in low numbers each year, but sometimes a few more occur) and rare winter visitors (less than 30 records).

The birds we see are usually are passage migrants, Branta bernicla hrota, these are the 'pale-bellied' birds that breed in the Eastern Canadian Arctic and winter in Ireland. This species makes the longest migration of any goose (4735 miles). Some parts of it's journey are non-stop for up to 1800 miles.

The Dark-bellied Brent Boose Branta bernicla bernicla is a very rare passage visitor to the Western Isles. (13 records as at 2001). The bird's body is mostly uniformly dark grey-brown. Head & neck black, again with a white patch on both sides of the neck. This race breeds on Arctic coasts in Siberia and winters in England, Germany and France.


Pale-bellied Brent Goose

On the chart below the darker the shade of blue the more abundant the Brent 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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