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Greenland White-Fronted Goose

The following information has been taken from a Scottish Natural Heritage Leaflet


The Greenland White-Fronted Goose Anser albifrons flavirostis is one of five recognised sub species of the circumpolar white fronted-goose (commonly known as "white-front").  It breeds in west Greenland and winters exclusively in Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

The world population declined in the late 1970's to approximately 15,000 birds.  Following conservation measures in the wintering range and several successful breeding seasons, the world population size just under 30,000 birds by 1998.


Greenland white-fronted geese are fully protected by law in Scotland.  It is illegal for this species to be killed without a license.

As Great Britain and Ireland support the entire world population in winter, it is vital that the geese are regularly monitored to ensure that a healthy population remains.

Although the bulk of the population winters on Islay off the west coast of Scotland, a small number roost within Caithness, particularly at Broubster Leans and the Loch of Mey.  Other Caithness roost sites include Loch Calder, Loch Heilan and Loch Lieurary.


Caithness is also used by roosting greylag geese and pink-footed geese which are quarry species.  Wildfowling should be carried out in a sensible manner and in accordance with the established British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC).

C) code of practice as Greenland white-fronted geese are susceptible to disturbance.  Lead shot is poisonous to wildfowl, but alternatives are now available which are less damaging to the environment.

Species Identification

Greenland white-fronted geese have:

  • similarities to pink-footed geese both in call and structure, but have a much paler head and bill.

  • a much slimmer and slighter build than greylag geese, appearing longer winged, with a more rounded head, and are generally slightly smaller.

  • very different calls from that of greylag geese.  Greenland white-fronts have a high pitched ringing gaggle "kyo-kyok" (very similar to pink-footed goose), whilst greylags have a rather lower pitched "krang-ung-ung"similar to a farmyard goose.

There are problems in distinguishing between the species as they fly in and out of the roost.

The silhouette and call of the pink-footed goose and Greenland white-fronted goose are very similar.  If you are in any doubt about your quarry do not shoot.

Scottish Natural Heritage
Main Street,  Golspie, Sutherland, KW10 6TG
Telephone 01408 633602

Additional useful contacts for goose advice:

Highland Council Ranger Service                        Highland Council Ranger Service Caithness Web Page       
at either
Dunnet Bay, Castletown, Caithness                                  Dunnet Bay Map
Telephone 01847 821531


Bruce Building, Sinclair Terrace, Wick, Caithness               Beside Wick Library/North Highland Archive
Telephone 01955 607758

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds                    Location Map - Golspie Branch
Alba, Main Street, Golspie, Sutherland, KW10 6TG
Telephone 01408 634404

British Association for Shooting and Conservation            Location Map - Trochry, Dunkeld
Scottish Centre, Trochry, by Dunkeld, Tayside PH8 ODY
Telephone 01350 723226                                                    BASC Web Site 

Scottish Natural Heritage is a government agency which works to conserve and enhance wildlife, habits and landscapes.  It aims to help people enjoy the natural heritage responsibility, understand it more fully and use it wisely so that it can be sustained for the future.
Scottish Natural Heritage Main Web Site


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