Bean Goose - Anser fabalis


The Bean Goose is one of the 'grey geese' and tends to be darker and browner than the other species in this group, and to have a darker head and neck.  A large goose with scaled brown upperparts, white underparts.  The head and neck are dark brown.  It has a black bill with a yellow-orange saddle. The tail is dark with white undertail coverts.  Legs and feet are orange. Some ornithologists split the five sub species into two species based on breeding habitat, whether in forest bogs in the subarctic taiga, or on the arctic tundra.

Identification difficulty

They show a preference for pastures which have high proportions of perennial ryegrass. They are intolerant of disturbance and prefer feeding fields with no other grazing livestock during the winter months and choose open areas with unobstructed sight lines both for feeding and for roosting.

When to see it

Between late September and March. There are two regular wintering flocks of Taiga Bean Goose - in the Yare Valley in Norfolk and the Avon Valley near Falkirk in southern Scotland.  Smaller numbers of the smaller, shorter-billed Tundra Bean Goose also spend winter here, erratic in their appearances; they can be seen in the company of other grey geese at Slimbridge, Gloucestershire and Holkham Marshes, Norfolk.

Life History

Breeds in north Scandinavia, north Russia and north Asia, and visits Britain in small numbers in autumn and winter.  Most of the birds that winter here come from Scandinavia, where the breeding population has declined in the last 20 years.

UK Status

400 birds from the 'taiga' population and 300 from the 'tundra' winter here.

VC55 Status

Very rare winter vagrant.

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map