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.