Brent Goose - Branta bernicla


A small, stocky, dark goose - the same size as a Mallard. It has a black head and neck and grey-brown back, with either a pale or dark belly, depending on the race. Adults have a small white neck patch. It flies in loose flocks along the coast, rather than in tight skeins like grey geese.

Identification difficulty

Tundra, on migration salt marshes & estuaries. Main concentrations of dark-bellied birds in the Wash, the North Norfolk coastal marshes, Essex estuaries, the Thames Estuary and Chichester and Langstone Harbours. Most light-bellied birds are found at Strangford Lough and Lough Foyle, N Ireland and at Lindisfarne, Northumberland.

When to see it

Birds arrive in October and depart again in March.

UK Status

91,000 'dark-bellied', 710 'light-bellied' from the Canadian breeding population and 3,400 'light-bellied' from the Svalbard population. It is an Amber List species because of the important numbers found at just a few sites.

VC55 Status

Birds of the nominate subspecies, the Dark-bellied Brent Goose, are scarce but regular winter and passage visitors recorded in all months except June and July

be our species champion

Leicestershire & Rutland Map


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

UK Map