British wildlife recordings
Anser anser : Greylag Goose - Anatidae
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Caerlaverock, Dumfries and Galloway: OS Grid Reference(303500,565500)
Greylag Goose, Anser anser
Calls of the greylag geese in a flock, recorded at Caerlaverock, Scotland. The greylag is a heavy goose with brown and white plumage, a large, orange bill, and fleshy-coloured legs. The dark lines which make a twisted pattern on its thick neck are formed by ridges of feathers. When flying in flocks, the greylag goose will form a characteristic V-shape to conserve energy by slipstreaming the bird in front. It makes a very loud honking call. The nest is generally a mound of vegetation, where the female will incubate the eggs whilst the male guards a small territory around the nest. After a few weeks, the young and adults will flock together with other families, which then stay together for their first year. There are between 500 and 700 pairs of wild greylag geese breeding in Scotland. There is also a very large feral population which now numbers around 20,000 individuals, and is growing at a rate of over ten per a year. Breeding birds are joined by many migrant geese from Iceland which winter in Britain, forming large flocks along estuaries and marshes, and feeding on spilt grain, grass, and root crops on farmland during the day. The greylag goose has reduced its range in Europe due to the drainage of its traditional nest sites.