Sites for Brent Geese in Portsmouth

During the winter months, the geese can be seen flying low over the shores of Langstone and Portsmouth Harbours. Here are some of the places where they are most likely to be seen, working in a clockwise direction from Eastern Road.

Playing Fields at Portsmouth Outdoor Centre

One of the best sites on the island for seeing the Brent Geese during the winter months. Viewable from the sea wall or from the access road opposite Norway Road.

Great Salterns Golf Course and Recreation Ground

North of Tangier Road.

Brent Goose Sanctuary

South of Tangier Road, and east of Baffins Pond. This site was put aside especially for the geese when the land was found to be contaminated.

Portsmouth Sixth Form College

South of Tangier Road, where it meets Eastern Road. A popular site. Geese in Langstone Harbour, with the Mulberry Harbour in the distance

Milton Common

Geese make some use of the lakes, but not the un-managed grassland. Some may be seen on the shorter grass near to Eastern Road. They can be seen anywhere along the shoreline of Langstone Harbour from the path.

University of Portsmouth, Langstone Campus

Various open areas are used.

Southsea Cricket Pitch

Between Eastern Parade and Southsea Esplanade.

Tipner Lake

Geese use the lake rather than the adjoining recreational areas.

Port Solent

Geese use the western end of the area but are subject to high levels of disturbance.

Farlington Playing Fields

This site's importance for geese helped to defeat plans for a new football stadium here.
Brent Geese at Farlington Playing Fields
The main fields at Farlington Marshes

Farlington Marshes

Last but not least, this HWT nature reserve attracts the highest number of geese in the area. They are also a lot less timid of human beings than at other sites, so it is possible to get quite close without having to sneak up on them. Family groups can be identified, the adults showing a white neck marking while the juveniles have no neck marking but instead have white stripes on their wings.

Some notes on Brent Geese

Distribution of Brent GeeseThe geese regularly seen in this area are the sub-species called Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Branta bernicla bernicla. They breed on the Taimyr Peninsula in Northern Siberia, and spend the winter on the east and south coasts of England, and other sites in north-western Europe. The total (world) population is about 300,000 geese, and about 100,000 come to the UK, with 30,000 ish coming to the Solent harbours and coast. Up to 6,500 geese use Langstone Harbour, and about 2,700 use Portsmouth Harbour (Source : BTO in Brent Goose Strategy). The first arrivals for the winter are mainly in mid September, although this date is becoming earlier as the population increases. Geese have proved to be adaptable and are able to feed on a wide range of plants. In Autumn they eat algae and eelgrasses in the shallow waters of the harbours. As these sources become depleted, they move on to grass pastures, winter wheat and other crops. In Spring, most geese migrate north by the end of March.

How you can help

Some birds have been fitted with coloured and numbered rings on their legs so that they can be identified using binoculars or a telescope. Over time, a picture can be built up of their movements in the area. It appears that the geese tend to be faithful to particular sites, but more details are needed. If you see a colour-ringed bird, record the colours and numbers on each leg, (using the bird's left and right). Leave details on the ansa-phone at Farlington Marshes : 023 9221 4683.

Brent Goose Strategy

After six years and 11,000 records from volunteers, the Brent Goose Strategy now exists. It aims to use the planning process to help resolve conflicts between the geese and people, and to prevent unnecessary impacts on Brent Geese habitats. The partners in the Strategy Group will continue to raise awareness amongst landowners and the general public. 132 terrestrial feeding sites were identified, of which only 22 are designated for nature conservation. The Strategy has been adopted as supplementary planning guidance, and will be updated every five years by continuing to monitor the sites used by geese.

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