Barnacle Geese


I saw a flock of these beautiful geese grazing on the fields by Ullswater in the Lake District. Barnacle geese are winter visitors to the UK, and they only come to certain places. The Ullswater flock is small, but huge numbers come to Caerlaverock on the Solway Coast, from Svalbard in Norway. Probably the Ullswater ones also come from Svalbard.

There is some really odd and fascinating folklore associated with barnacle geese. People used to believe that they hatched out of barnacle shells, or grew on trees, because they never saw them nest or hatch young. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barnacle_Goose explains some of the folklore in more depth. I love this engraving from 1552 which shows the geese growing and hatching from a tree.
Barnacle Geese.–Facsimile of an Engraving on Wood, from the “Cosmographie Universelle” of Munster, folio, Basle, 1552.

Leave a Comment