Orkney Ringing Group

Orkney Ringing Group

Grey Lag

Grey Lag Goose Ringing

The number of Greylag Geese in both the summer (c 10,000) and winter (c 70,000) are increasing on Orkney. The national Goose Science Advisory Group (GSAG) has identified the marking of Greylag Geese a priority in Scotland. Little is known about the movements of  these birds after the breeding season. No catching has been undertaken during the winter months when the summer stock is joined by up to 60,000 winter migrants from Iceland. The degree of mixing of the two stocks is not known.

A handful of Greylag Geese have been ringed on Orkney over the past few years. Due to a rapidly  increasing breeding population and more of the Icelandic population stopping short of the Scottish mainland and wintering on Orkney this species is fast becoming an ISSUE on Orkney.

In 2008 more effort was put into getting some of the breeding population caught and marked. The main aim of this project is to increase our knowledge of these breeding birds and build up some individual histories, map movements and record productivity data. It is hoped also to catch a small number of wintering birds to top up the number of marked Icelandic birds in this visiting population.

The 2008 season started as in previous years with a couple of lucky breaks resulting in a few birds being caught and marked on the Pentland Skerries and Loch of Swannay, Birsay. Loch of Hundland was identified as the site to catch birds by rounding birds whilst in moult with flightless youngsters up on the fields surrounding the loch and encouraging them into a corral.

In July 2008 124 birds were successfully marked at this site and it is intendedto continue with this site as long as it remains a hotspot for gathering breeding birds. Already the results of the project have been interesting with the majority of sightings being within a 10km radius of the ringing site (Loch of Hundland) which was what we were expecting from this sedentary, resident population? However, two rogue goslings have already decided to make things more interesting by wintering in East Anglia. A movement few of us would have predicted at the start.

This initial success was followed by another successful catch in July 2009 where 186 birds were marked.

The aim of the project is to capture of up to 100 birds in the summer and 100 birds in the winter between 2008 - 2012. The distribution and movements of marked birds will provide conservation bodies with key information to better manage the Greylag Goose populations in Orkney.

Please look out for these birds and report any sightings using the form on the Contact Us Page.

Birds are marked with either an orange neck collar with three characters or a white plastic leg ring with three black characters. Information required from sightings: Collar or Leg Ring Colour & Code, Mate & Goslings? (Check if bird is part of a family group and are associates marked also?), Flock size, Location, Grid Ref, and Habitat (Stubble or Grass).