Have a guess how many geese you can expect to turn up for the annual migration this year? A) 500, B) 35,000, or c) 7343. The answer is of course B, a phenomenal amount of geese migrate south over the North Atlantic each season to escaping the freezing weather and to find food and shelter.
There are several geese species which flock to the Hebrides on an annual basis. Here follows details about a great many of them.
Latin: Branta Leucopsis
Wingspan: 130–145 cm (51–57 in)
Body Mass: 1.21–2.23 kg (2.7–4.9 lb)
Description: White face and black head, neck, and upper breast. Wings and back are silvery grey with white and black bars. The Barnacle geese has a white belly.
Breeds: Greenland, and winters in the Island of Islay and Hebrides region
Pale Bellied Brent Geese
Latin: Branta Bernicla
Wingspan: 106–121 cm (42–48 in)
Body Mass: 0.88–2.2 kg (1.9–4.9 lb)
Description: Blackish-brown and light grey. Head and neck are black, with a small white patch on either side of the neck.
Breeds: Canada, Svalbard and Greenland - some Winter in the Hebrides
Greenland Whitefront Geese
Wingspan: 64–81 cm (25–32 in)
Body Mass: 1.93–3.31 kg (4.3–7.3 lb)
Description: A darker brown in appearance with very narrow white tip to the tail, black barring on belly with orange bill.
Breeds: Greenland, winters in Western Scotland
Latin: Branta Canadensis
Wingspan: 127–185 cm (50–73 in)
Body Mass: 3.2–6.5 kg (7.1–14 lb)
Description: Black head and neck, face has white patches with brown body.
Breeds: USA and Canada, winters in the UK and Europe
Latin: Anser Brachyrhynchus
Wingspan: 135–170 (53–67 in)
Body Mass: 1.8–3.4 kg (4–7.5 lbs)
Description: A punctuated bill with pink in the middle and a black base / tip with pink feet. A body of grey-brown, head and neck darker brown, the rump and vent white, and the tail grey with a broad white tip. The upper wing a bluish-grey and flight feathers blackish-grey.
Breeds: Eastern Greenland and Iceland, winters in UK and Denmark
Latin: Chen Caerulescens
Wingspan: 135 to 165 cm (53 to 65 in)
Body Mass: 2.05 to 2.7 kg (4.5 to 6.0 lb)
Description: white (snow), black wing tips and rose-red feet and legs, pink bills with dark smile
Breeds: Greenland, Canada and Alaska, Winters rarely in the UK
There are also a great many number of Birds Of Prey which come to claim their dinner. The arrivals featured are Waders, Hen Harriers, Peregrine, Golden Eagle and Merlin to name but a few of the raptors.