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Brent Goose

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A common winter visitor from its breeding grounds in the Arctic.


Photograph by: 
Peter Orchard

Brent Goose: cometh the autumn cometh the geese

Post date: Monday, 20 October, 2014 - 00:00

When winter comes to Dorset so do the Brent geese (Branta bernicla). Having nested in Greenland and Iceland these geese make the long journey south every autumn and return to their nesting grounds in the spring. They come to the east and south coasts of England and in Dorset Christchurch Harbour, Poole Harbour and the Fleet are particular favourite winter holiday destinations!

The Brent goose is related to the more common and introduced Canada goose but it is much smaller; In fact, the Brent is hardly bigger than a shelduck. Not only is it smaller than the Canada but the distinctive white 'chin strap' is much less pronounced so you should have no trouble telling them apart even from a distance.

They are quite happy in the company of Canada geese however and mixed flocks are not unusual. They are very keen on eel grass that is exposed at low tide but in between tides they are happy browsing on rough pasture. If you visit the Middlebere Farm hide at high tide in any winter month you can often see 1,000 or so Brent geese in the field right alongside the hide. They make a wonderful sight when the take off together.


The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Sites List Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
Common Name Brent Goose
Scientific Name Branta bernicla
Status Local
Interest Level
Species Family Geese
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 10 - October
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
Preferred Environment
  • Mudflats
  • Harbours, estuaries and lagoons
Look for Small compact geese in large flocks
Additional Identification Notes
  • A wintering species that arrive in large numbers along the south coast in late autumn
  • Smaller than the Canada  goose and with a white mark on the neck rather than a white chin strap
  • There are various races from different parts of the Arctic, dark-bellied, pale-bellied and the black brant