Last modified: 14 November 2012
Image: Massimiliano Sticca
The delicate black and white geese come to the coast of mid Wales to enjoy the milder climate and rich feeding grounds on the saltmarshes, and will stay on the reserve until late February.
Russell Jones, RSPB Ynys-hir warden says: “This is one of the greatest autumnal spectacles at the reserve, the arrival of these unusual looking geese is amazing and well worth a visit to the reserve to see with your own eyes.”
Barnacle geese started to winter in numbers at Ynys-hir from the mid 1990’s and have been over wintering at the site ever since – this is the only place in Wales where you will be able to see large flocks of these wonderful birds.
In addition, a small flock of Greenland white-fronted geese – the only regular flock to be seen in England and Wales – return from their breeding areas in the low arctic coastal fringe of west Greenland to this traditional wintering area on the Dyfi Estuary.
Russell adds: “The Greenland white-fronted geese have declined so dramatically over the years that this year we only have 18 birds at the reserve, there are usually over 100. They come here to feed on the salt marsh and lowland wet grassland and will stay until early April.”
The world population of these impressive birds has declined from a maximum of c.36000 birds to approx 22000 birds now.. This decline is due to a combination of habitat destruction and agricultural intensification, shooting in Iceland (banned since autumn 2006), and poor breeding success on their breeding grounds (due to adverse weather conditions, and competition with Canada geese).
For more information about the reserve and what you can see and do at this time of year please call the visitor centre on 01654 700 222 or go to www.rspb.org.uk/ynys-hir .
A donation from you can help save these birds from extinction