Red-breasted Goose
Branta ruficollis


BOU Category:
Site status:
Devon status:
Conservation status:
Conservation levels:
AE* (GB), BE (site)
vagrant winter visitor and escapee
very rare/escapee ;   rare escape/vagrant  
BOCC3 (unlisted) ; SPEC1W (Vulnerable); IUCN Global red-listed (Endangered)   

International and Europe
Apparently experiencing a significant decline from a peak of 88,425 individuals in 2000 to c.34,000 in 2006.  The cause is unknown, but short-stopping (in poorly recorded areas) and natural fluctuations are possible factors.  Most nest on the Taymyr, Gydan and Yamal peninsulas, departing mid- to late-Sep via five staging posts through Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine to reach five wintering sites in Oct/ Nov to the W of the Black Sea in Romania and N Bulgaria.  Varying numbers winter in Greece and possibly still along Caspian Sea.
  Migration north is from Mar to May; the only breeding records within Europe are single events in Ukraine (1998), Germany (2002) and UK (2003), presumably involving birds of captive origin.

Great Britain
To the end of 2010, BBRC had accepted 77 records
considered of wild origin, most having appeared along the E & S English coasts with Brent or Pink-footed Geese.  However, it is a popular ornamental waterfowl and escapees frequently occur. The Naturalised Goose Survey in 2000 reported three Red-breasted Geese at a single site and WeBS 2008/09 and 2009/10 located birds of unknown provenance at 11 and 7 sites, respectively.  In 2003, a pair produced a clutch at Nosterfield Nature Reserve, Yorkshire, but soon disappeared.

There were 13 records to 2004,
most of which were of captive origin. Genuine vagrants are considered to account for the 1828, 1837 and 1963 records.  A first-winter made its first appearance in Devon on Exminster Marshes on 05 Nov 2011.  This is suspected to be the same individual as one with Brent Geese at Stanpit Marsh, Dorset 18 - 28 Oct, at Ferrybridge on 30th and flew over the Swannery on 31st, then appeared in Devon five days later.   It remained at the top end of the Exe Estuary with Brent Geese until 18 Feb 2012.  Only once (25 Jan 2012) was this bird reported venturing to the lower end of the estuary, to Oak Meadow Golf Course at Starcross.  Accepted by BBRC as a genuine wild vagrant.

Dawlish Warren

Of three records, only one record considered to be a genuine wild bird, “One was shot on Kenton Warren in 1828...”

One historic record. All subsequent records here are considered to be of captive origin:
18 Feb 2010
06 Oct 2010 ~ 14 Feb 2011
an unringed adult on the golf course with Brent Geese.
13 dates; a ringed bird, presumably joined by the same, unringed bird as in Feb 2010, with two adults (one ringed, one unringed) present on four dates 23 ~ 28 Dec 2010. Usually seen with Brent Geese in The Bight and on the estuary in front of the hide.

The record from the 2009/10 winter involved an unringed adult first seen at Black Hill Quarry, East Budleigh from 28 Oct - 26 Nov 2009, before relocating to the Exe Estuary from 03 Dec, where it joined with Brent Geese at the top end.  It was first reported venturing to the S end on 09 Jan 2010, where it visited sporadically until 28 Feb, departing with wintering Brent Geese.

Presumably a different adult appeared with Brent Geese on 06 Oct 2010, since on the 9th it was seen to have a metal purplish-red ring.  It was seen at Exminster Marshes later that day, back down off Mudbank Lane, Exmouth on 13 Oct and later that day joined the unringed individual at the top end of the Exe Estuary, where both birds appeared together at times.  The ringed bird (its ring now faded to pink) was last reported on Oak Meadow Golf Course, Starcross on 28 Feb 2011.

Perhaps the same ringed bird was seen Hayling island, Hampshire on 02 - 04 Oct 2010, two days before turning up at Dawlish Warren, and it (or another with a red ring since dates overlap) was also at Keyhaven Marshes, Hampshire on 20 & 24 Feb 2011, although possibly present there since 14th.

18/02/2010 © Simon Thurgood

Updated 31/08/2013

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