Barnacle Geese spend their summer nesting in the Arctic Circle in Svalbard, Greenland and Russia. In the winter when it’s too cold in the Arctic they fly south for food and warmth. The Barnacle Geese that nest in Greenland fly south to the Isle of Islay and western Ireland, and the Russian birds fly to the Netherlands. The Barnacle Geese that nest in Svalbard (Svalbard Barnacle Geese) all fly south to the Solway Firth, on the south coast of Scotland. The flock of Barnacles at Seaview tend to stay closer to home during the winter months and graze around the Nettlestone and Seaview areas. They start to circle our park daily now recognising that opening time is imminent and visitors = food source! They use our middle areas of park land to build their nests as we have a safe environment with electric fences to keep out unwanted predators. These geese do not belong to us they are under licence and monitored by Natural England (DEFRA).
The journey between Svalbard and the Solway Firth is about 2,000 miles (3,200km), and the geese make this journey every year. On the way they have to cope with extreme weather, avoid hunters and find food. WWT Caerlaverock is where thousands of Svalbard Barnacle Geese rest and feed after this long and challenging journey, here the geese are safe.
In the 1940's there were only around 300 Svalbard Barnacle Geese, now, thanks to WWT Caerlaverock, there are over 30,000. WWT is also helping to look after the geese by fitting them with satellite trackers so we can see where they fly and plot this on a map. This helps to show the challenges the geese face on their long journey and what we can do to help.