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Light-bellied Brent Goose

Branta bernicla hrota


This population winters almost entirely in Ireland, with small numbers in parts of Britain and France.

Status: Winter migrant from high-Arctic Canada. Most occur in Ireland between October and April.

Conservation Concern: Amber-listed as the majority winter at less than ten sites. The Irish population is also internationally significant, another amber listing criterion. The European population has been evaluated as Vulnerable as several important populations declined.

Identification: Small dark goose, with a black head, neck and breast, and dark-brown upperparts and pale underparts. Almost whitish flanks, and small white crescent on the upperparts of the neck visible at close range.

Similar Species: Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Black Brant, Barnacle Goose

Call: Gutteral 'rhut, rhut'

Diet: During the winter, it feeds mostly on eel-grass, which grows on muddy estuaries, and also on grasslands, usually when coastal supplies have been depleted at estuarine sites.

Breeding: Nests in small, loose colonies by coastal tundra, with pools and small inlets.

Wintering: Mostly found on coastal estuaries during the autumn and early winter, and also on grasslands from mid-winter, until departure for the breeding grounds begins in late April.

Where to See: Highest numbers (c. 30,000) are seen at Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland in October, where most congregate on arrival. Thereafter, they move to other estuarine sites. Lough Foyle in County Derry, Dublin Bay in County Dublin, Tralee Bay, Lough Gill & Akeragh Lough in County Kerry, Rogerstown Estuary in County Dublin, Wexford Harbour & Slobs in County Wexford are other well-used sites (1,000-3,500 birds).

Monitored by: Irish Wetland Bird Survey & an annual special survey in October and January each season. In addition, a number of geese have been colour ringed over the past 10 years and sightings of these can be reported to Graham McElwaine, the Resightings Coordinator, Irish Brent Goose Research Group.

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