Photos: Arne Ader
Barnacle geese. Matsalu
Barnacle goose Valgepõsk-lagle Branta leucopsis
Better migration weather for birds can hardly be found. A northern wind that subsided in the afternoon, good visibility – what more can a migrant wish for.
In autumn about 70 000 barnacle geese migrate through Estonia, birds that have nested on the tundras of Russia as well as in Novaya Zemlya. Only some decades ago they made foraging stays in Estonia only during the spring migration. Regardless of the fact that barnacle geese are not hunted in Estonia they are extremely cautious birds. For foraging only large open meadows and fields are chosen and these may be quite far from the overnight areas on the coast.
Among the Anserine geese their autumn passing migration is the most numerous. The plumage of barnacle geese is patterned in white-black-grey, the beak as well as feet are black and the characteristic ”white cheeks” are visible from afar. The flight image is quite similar to grey geese but they are smaller and about one-third lighter than the grey geese in weight – weighing a couple of kilos.
A passing loudly calling flock attracts attention with their noisiness but it doesn’t somehow sound like the characteristic cackling of geese.