Brent goose

Brent Goose

┬ęDavid Tipling/2020VISION

Brent goose

Scientific name: Branta bernicla
The brent goose flies to the UK for the milder winter. Two populations arrive: those with dark bellies can be found around Eastern England; while those with pale bellies can be found in the North East.

Species information


Length: 55-60cm
Wingspan: 1.5m
Weight: 1.5kg
Average lifespan: 11 years

Conservation status

Classified in the UK as Amber under the Birds of Conservation Concern 4: the Red List for Birds (2015). Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

When to see

October to March


A common wintering bird, the brent goose is the smallest of our geese - it is only just bigger than a mallard. Brent geese gather in large flocks of hundreds of birds and, unlike other geese, do not fly in tight 'skeins' (V-formations).

How to identify

Our smallest goose, the brent goose has a grey-brown back, and black neck and head, with just a small white patch on the neck.


Only found here in the winter. Birds that nest in northern Russia and Siberia have darker bellies, and spend the winter around the coasts of East Anglia and southern England. Birds that nest in Svalbard and Greenland have paler bellies and mostly spend the winter around North East England and Ireland.

Did you know?

The brent goose is the most coastal of our geese, feeding mainly on Eel-grass and seaweed on sandy estuaries and saltmarshes.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland and coastal nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way.