Did You Know

Geese over Kippen

The ringing calls of geese have been a constant feature in Kippen this winter as large skeins fly over the village to feed in nearby fields. But would you be able to tell what type of geese they are?_

Truth be told, it can be quite difficult, unless you’re good at identifying calls. Often you only see them when they’re flying, or when they’re a bit of a distance away on the ground. Get too close, and they’ll rise up en mass in a whirl of dark wings._

But there are really only five species of geese that commonly winter in Scotland, and only four that you stand a chance of seeing in this area._

Overwhelmingly, the huge flocks on the Carse of Stirling are pink-footed geese. These are medium-sized geese that make a high-pitched ‘wink-wink’ call, and migrate here all the way from Iceland and Greenland._

Mixed in with them, you can sometimes see just one or two barnacle geese. These are smaller birds which are a distinctive black, white and grey, and have a rather yappy call. Much bigger flocks of barnacle geese can be found on the Solway and the Inner Hebrides._

Further to the west, you might also see some greylag geese, the largest wild goose in Scotland. These are lighter in colour than the pink-foots, with an orange bill and quite a harsh, squeaky call.

But over into the National Park, you might be lucky enough to see some of our rarer local geese, the Greenland white-front, so named because of a white patch around its beak. These have suffered a real fall in numbers in recent years, and in fact, they’re now a red-listed bird, which means they’re a species of conservation concern._

Jenny Tweedie