Greenland white-fronted goose

Latin name: Anser albifrons flavirostrisGreenland white-fronted geese

Length: 65 – 78cm Wingspan: 130 – 165cm

Where: Loch Lomond National Nature Reserve (Endrick Water); Aber Path behind the Millennium Hall Gartocharn

When: September to March, with numbers peaking in February

As you watch these rather dumpy grey geese grazing noisily on the Endrick Marshes it’s hard to imagine that they have flown nearly 3000km to get here. The 200 birds that visit the National Park are a small flock in comparison with the thousands that make Islay and the west coast of Scotland their winter home. Together they make up the entire Greenland population, all coming to Scotland to escape the Arctic winter there.

These white-fronts are some of the rarest geese to visit the UK. If you look through binoculars you can tell them from other grey geese by the white blaze behind their beaks – they look as if they have been pecking in a flour bin. Their orangey beaks distinguish them from the pink-billed white-fronts that winter in the south of England, and which spend their summers in Siberia.

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Any natural place contains an infinite reservoir of information, and therefore the potential for inexhaustible new discoveries.

Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods