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Conservation status: Amber

The ancestor of most domestic geese, the greylag is the largest and bulkiest of the wild geese native to the UK and Europe. In many parts of the UK it has been re-established by releasing birds in suitable areas, but the resulting flocks (often mixed with Canada geese) found around gravel pits, lakes and reservoirs all year round in southern Britain tend to be semi-tame and uninspiring. The native birds and wintering flocks found in Scotland retain the special appeal of truly wild geese.

Illustrations

Overview

Latin name

Anser anser

Family

Swans, ducks and geese (Anatidae)

Where to see them

Greylag geese are easily seen in lowland areas of the UK all year, sometimes even in suburban parks with lakes but especially on low-lying grassy fields in river valleys. Wild ones, however, are found mostly north of the Solway and can be seen at RSPB nature reserves such as Mersehead (Dumfries & Galloway), Vane Farm (Fife) and Loch of Strathbeg (Grampian) from September to April. Wild breeding greylags can be found at Forsinard (Caithnes & Sutherland).

When to see them

All year round in the south; mostly September to March or April where wild visitors appear in the north.

What they eat

Grass, roots, cereal leaves and spilled grain

Population

EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*
-46,000 pairs140,000 British-breeding birds and 88,000 from Iceland-

Distribution

Key

Audio

Patrik Aberg, Xeno-canto

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