Portal to the Lesser White-fronted Goose

- by the Fennoscandian Lesser White-fronted Goose project

Literature type: General

Journal: Goose Bulletin

Volume: 17 , Pages: 10-18.

Language: English


Full reference: Kruckenberg, H. & Krüger, T. 2013. Lesser White-fronted Geese Anser erythropus in Lower Saxony (NW Germany) – status, distribution and numbers 1900–2007. Goose Bulletin: 17, 10-18.

Keywords: status, distribution, numbers, Germany, Lower Saxony


In the period from 1907/08 to 2006/07, i.e. 100 winters, 156 records of 261 Lesser White-fronted Geese Anser erythropus were reported in Lower Saxony. The first records were from 9 December 1907. For the period before 1970, only accidental occurrences were reported. A large increase in the number of records occurred in the 1990s and continued in the 2000s. Since the mid-1990s, the Lesser White-fronted Goosehas become a regular, annually occurring migratory bird in Lower Saxony. There is evidence of a concentration of records in the north-west of Lower Saxony in the region of East Frisia, especially in the Dollart-Lower Ems-Region (Rheiderland, Emsmarschen) and the Krummhörn including Leybucht, which are key sites of the occurrence. Other important sites are the Middle Elbe and the Lower Elbe. During autumn migration, the first Lesser White-fronted Geese reach Lower Saxony in mid-October. From early December the numbers rise steadily until early March and peak in the first decade of March (median = 2 March). After that the numbers decrease but birds remain until the first third of April at a relatively high level, and birds are gone by the end of April. In 139 cases (92.1%), Lesser White-fronted Geese were recorded only on a single day, longer stays were reported only twelve times (7.9%, n = 151 records), the longest 27 days, indicating overwintering. About 93% of all observations of Lesser White-fronted Geese refer to birds which were associated in only small flocks of three individuals, and often only single birds (68.6%) occurred (n = 156 flocks and 261 ind.). “Large” flocks have been recorded rarely. 141 Lesser White-fronted Geese were reported as adult birds (86.5%), with only 21 individuals identified as juveniles (13.5%, n = 163). In 75% of records since the mid-1990s (73%, n = 70 records) Lesser White-fronted Geese were roosting with White-fronted Geese A. albifrons. In 19% of the records they were with Barnacle Geese Branta bernicla, and in 9 % with Greylag Geese A. anser. There is a high likelihood of confusion between Lesser White-fronted Geese and Whitefronted Geese during goose hunting, which is usually practiced at dusk at the night roosts of both species. Therefore, to collect data for better protection of Lesser Whitefronted Geese in Lower Saxony we started a new research programme in autumn 2012 involving field research, satellite tracking and colour-marking as well as an awareness campaign for birders, hunters and the general public.

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