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Order Wildfowl/Anseriformes, Family Waterfowl/Anatidae

Greylag Goose/Anser anser - Male + Female

L 74-84 cm, WS 149-168 cm. Breeds in variety of habitats, mainly wetlands, from shallow lakes with reedbeds and freshwater marshes to islets in larger lakes, coasts (even brackish water), heather, rocky slopes, etc. British breeders mainly resident, most others migratory. Increasing in numbers. Only grey goose to be seen in large numbers in summer in Europe.
IDENTIFICATION: Large, equalled in size only by largest taiga Bean Goose (see above), but bulkier, with thicker neck, larger head and heavier bill, latter being all pinkish-orange or pink. Legs dull pinkish. Wings broad, flight heavy. Plumage rather plain brown-grey without strong contrasts, head and neck typically rather pale. A few have insignificant thin white rim at base of bill, and many have some dark marks on belly. In flight, upper forewing strikingly pale ash-grey, contrasting sharply with darker rear parts of wing and with darker back. Underwing characteristic, too, otherwise dark wing having pale grey leading edge distinctly set off, thus two-coloured, unique among European geese. Greylags flying away from observer can be recognized by size and pale grey rump, contrasting with dark brown tertials and back. - Variation: Western birds (ssp. anser, most of Europe) comparatively darker, smaller and with more orange tinge to bill; eastern (ssp. rubrirostris, Russia, Asia) paler, larger and have pinkish bill; E European breeders appear to be intermediates.
VOICE: Loud, raw, nasal cackling calls, most characteristic trisyllabic with first higher-pitched (falsetto-like), drawn out (almost disyllabic) and more stressed than following two, ‘kiyaaa-ga-ga’. Commonly also deep, raw ‘ankang- ang’ (thus somewhat more like Bean Goose). Repertoire varied: some calls are deep, others shrill, all being similar to those of domestic goose.

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