Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Greylag Goose
Photography © Kim Park
Uig - Isle of Lewis - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
23rd May, 2006
Our Greylag Goose photographs
Greylag geese pair for life and can live for up to 22 years.
BTO estimate 3200 wild pairs in the UK in summer
Most Greyag Geese fly North to Iceland to breed.
Greylag Goose records in the Western Isles
Fairly common resident breeder (100-999 breeding pairs) and fairly common passage (occurs in small numbers) (Icelandic population).
Source: Outer Hebrides Bird Report (2001)
On the chart below the darker the shade of blue the more abundant the Greylag Goose is during a month or the more likely you are to see it.
(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)
In the Western Isles we have a remnant of the Scottish breeding population of Greylag Geese, and although other populations have arisen in Scotland, it is believed that the resident Greylag Geese in the Uists are the purest breed.
After the Second World War, in the Uists Greylag Geese were almost extinct, with just an isolated group and a few pairs.
Greylag Geese numbers have since vastly increased. They feed on good quality grass areas. (Short grass - grazed) A few years ago many areas of rough grassland in the islands were reseeded, and as their food source increased so did the numbers of Greylag Geese.
Also since the war, less people were shooting the Greylag Geese, there was a decline in poaching, and their predators decreased in number.
In recent years much of the reseeded land has reverted to poor grazing, as fewer people depend upon the land for their living, and so do not maintain it.
The now large numbers of Greylag Geese go to forage the few pockets of good grazing where people are still working the land. Even a few can cause a fair bit of damage to crops.
The traditional crofting ways of growing crops are accepted as part of the cycle which contributes to the enormous conservation interest of the Uist machairs, so a scheme: The Uist Greylag Goose Committee was set up in 1990 to stop the Greylag Geese from breaking the cycle.
The Committee used various methods to extend some control over the Greylag Geese. From bird scarers to organised shooting parties in particulary vulnerable areas.
A few years on and after national consultation a new scheme was set up "The Uist Greylag Goose Scheme" to minimise damage to growing crops.
- One method tested was a 150 hectare (fertilised) reseed as a Greylag Geese refuge. (discontinued)
- Paying township Geese Scarers during the vulnerable parts of the growing season (very successful)
- A full-time Goose Officer appointed to co-ordinate activities between crofters and other interested parties, loan of resources etc.
The Uist Greylag Goose Committee found through trials that a low wire fence around crops was a very successful deterrent.
to be continued ...
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)
Visit Kim's web site of her photography of the Western Isles
Other local bird photographs
Sources of information for the bird sightings section