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Lost barnacle goose found sunning himself in Spain

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Barnacle Geese in flight px

Credit: Richard Taylor-Jones

Barnacle goose, orange CBZ, had been routinely migrating between Svalbard and Scotland for six years before going AWOL last winter. He was feared dead, but amazingly has just been spotted, 900 miles away, near Vigo on Spain’s northwest Atlantic Coast. This is the furthest south the species has ever been recorded.

Barnacle geese usually migrate between the arctic Svalbard for the summer and Scotland’s Solway Firth in winter. The Wildfowl and Wetland Trust’s efforts have increased barnacle geese numbers in the area from 300 in the 1940s to 30,000 today. The goose had originally been ringed at the WWT’s Caerlaverock Wetland Centre there in 2004.

“We’re gobsmacked. Barnacle geese have a tough life facing extreme weather and food scarcity so we started to assume this one hadn’t made it. To find out he’s actually made a record journey south and been sunning himself in Spain is amazing.”

“Once he leaves Spain, we’ll be keeping a special eye out to see if he returns to the Costa del Solway,” said WWT Principle Species Research Officer, Dr Larry Griffin.

The barnacle goose is just one of the migrating birds to observe arriving at this change of season – other birds to look out for at WWT’s nine wetland centres are Bewick’s and whooper swans, pink-footed geese, bitterns, teal, shovelers and  gadwalls.

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