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Barnacle Goose

Branta leucopsis

Gé ghiúrainn

Status: Local winter visitor from Greenland, occurring in Ireland between October & April.

Conservation Concern: Amber-listed in Ireland as the majority winter at less than ten sites. The European population is considered to be Secure.

Identification: Small compact goose, with small rounded head and short black bill. It has a black neck and breast and mostly-white head, barred grey upperparts and pale underparts. Identified in flight by a strong contrast between the black breast and the whitish belly.

Similar Species: Other goose species, such as Brent Goose.

Call: High-pitched monosyllabic shrill or bark.

Diet: Primarily grazers, feeding on grasses and sedges on the tundra during the breeding season, and on coastal pastures during the winter.

Breeding: Irish Barnacle Geese breed in Greenland. The species also breeds in Siberia, as well as in increasing numbers around the Baltic Sea.

Wintering
: Winters in western Scotland and Ireland. Mostly on remote islands in the northwest Ireland and western Scotland where it is relatively free from disturbance. Highly gregarious.

Where to See: The most important sites are the Inishkea Islands in County Mayo and Ballintemple in County Sligo, each supporting over 2,500 birds. Trawbreaga Bay in County Donegal, Malin Head in County Donegal and Rathlin O’Birne in County Donegal also support relatively large flocks (usually 500-800 birds).

Monitored by: This population is censused thoroughly by aerial census every four to five years carried out by the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Irish Wetland Bird Survey (I-WeBS). 

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