Images of barnacle geese (Branta leucopsis)
PICTURES OF BARNACLE GEESE
Observe how a painting of a flock of barnacle geese coming in to land was evolved from the initial compositional drawings through to completion.
Barnacle Geese on the Solway Firth (Branta leucopsis)
Put very simply the barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis) is a small goose with a distinctive conspicuous cream-coloured cheek patch. There are two other species of black geese native to Europe: the brent goose (Branta bernicla) and the red-breasted goose Branta ruficollis). Here in the U.K. the canada goose (Branta canadensis) is an introduced species.
Barnacle geese are very vocal, their call can be likened to the yap of a small dog.
To study the barnacle geese I went to Caerlaverock one of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust visitor centres. There are several distinct populations of barnacle geese. All barnacle geese populations are migratory breeding in the far north and wintering on the coasts of northern Europe. On the Solway Firth I was observing the population of geese that come from Svalbard, a migration of some 3,200km.
These drawings are just some of my reference studies produced over a five day period. I focused entirely on the geese and did not allow myself to be distracted by all the other species of birds present at the reserve.
Navigate this project
Geese Prints for Sale
The prints below depict pink-footed geese another species of goose that also winters in the United Kingdom.
The Frozen Puddle,
Available as a limited edition print
Limited edition giclee print reproduced from an original oil painting
Prints are signed by the artist
The prints are on Somerset Velvet watercolour paper (100% cotton, acid free)
Alert Pink-footed Geese Print
Available as a canvas print or a framed print
Canvas prints reproduced from an original oil painting
The prints are on heavy weight canvas with a matt laminate surface
Please note: These pink-footed goose prints are produced following
order and are posted to you direct from the printers.
Barnacle Geese Facts
Barnacle Geese breed mainly on the Arctic islands of the North Atlantic.
There are three main populations, with separate breeding and wintering ranges:
- Breeding in eastern Greenland, wintering on the Hebrides of western Scotland and in western Ireland. Population about 40,000.
- Breeding on Svalbard, wintering on the Solway Firth on the England/Scotland border. Population about 24,000.
- Breeding on Novaya Zemlya, wintering in the Netherlands. Population about 130,000.
- A new fourth population, derived from the Novaya Zemlya population, has become established since 1975 breeding on the Baltic Sea islands (Estonia, Finland, Denmark, and Sweden), and wintering in the Netherlands. Population about 8,000.
Small numbers of feral birds, derived from escapes from zoo collections, also breed in other north European countries. Occasionally, a wild bird will appear in the Northeastern United States or Canada, but care must be taken to separate out wild birds from escaped individuals, as Barnacle Geese are popular waterfowl with collectors.
Barnacle geese lay 4 - 5 eggs which are incubated for 24 - 25 days. They frequently build their nests high on mountain cliffs to avoid predation. The main threats in the breeding areas are from Arctic Foxes and Polar Bears. Like all geese, the goslings are not fed by the adults. Instead of bringing food to the newly hatched goslings, the goslings are encouraged to travel to the food. Unable to fly, the three day old goslings have to jump off the cliff and fall; their small size, feathery down, and very light weight helps to protect many of them from serious injury when they hit the rocks below, but some die from the impact. Arctic foxes are attracted by the noise made by the parent geese during this time and collect up many dead or injured goslings. The foxes also try to capture more goslings as they are led by the parents to the wetland feeding areas.