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!

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