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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

19 February, 2010

Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis)

The Barnacle Goose is much rarer in Dorset than its cousins, the Canada and Brent Geese. Indeed, many records are probably feral birds that have escaped from collections.

However, the colder winter this year, seems to have driven a small family party of six birds south to Dorset. Another Arctic breeding species the Barnacles tend to over winter on the Solway Firth in southern Scotland and on the east coat of Ireland.

This group was in the company of Canada Geese and Brent Geese but preferred to keep their distance and as five of them grazed peacefully this one stood guard and saw off any of the other two species that dared wander their way!

The key identifying feature of the Barnacle Goose is its white face.It is a little smaller than a Canada Goose but larger than the Brent.

The early Irish people could not work out how these birds could disappear in the summer and appear again in the autumn and they formed an association with sea Barnacles and thought that they hatched out from the Barnacles that grew on the rocks, hence the name Barnacle Goose!