Greenland White-fronted Goose Census

abundance_gwfgc_greenlandwhitefrontedgeeseIn winter 1982, the first complete census of Greenland White-fronted Geese Anser albifrons flavirostris in Britain and Ireland was undertaken in response to the concern over the decline in the population at that time. The survey was organised by the Greenland White-fronted Goose Study (GWGS) in Britain and the then Forest and Wildlife Service of the Department of Fisheries and Forestry in Ireland.

The GWGS first established a network of observers to undertake counts throughout Scotland and Wales, and through collaboration with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, RSPB and DoE in Northern Ireland achieved international coverage of the wintering range. International censuses have been made throughout the entire wintering range each autumn and spring since 1982/83

Aim and methods

The aim of the census is to estimate the size of the Greenland White-fronted Goose population as well as identify important wintering sites and estimate annual breeding success.

The census is undertaken annually and involves two site based counts: one in the autumn and one in the spring. The spring total is used for the population estimate. Counters record the number of birds present at a site and also the age structure of the flock, which involves recording the number of young (first-winter) birds present in the flocks, as well as brood sizes (i.e. the sizes of family groups).

Dates of the census are posted on our GSMP survey dates page.


Results from the Greenland White-fronted Goose Census have been presented in various reports and are available to download from our Reports and newsletter page and from Greenland White-fronted Goose Study website website. Summary results are also presented on the species account page for the Greenland White-fronted Goose.

Getting involved

Counters who are interested in taking part in the census must be confident in the identification of Greenland White-fronted Geese and have reasonable experience in counting birds. Some knowledge of aging geese may also necessary for sites where age assessments are undertaken.

It is an annual census that consists of two counts on pre-determined dates: one in autumn and one in spring. The census covers the whole of Ireland, the majority of Scotland (excludes some eastern and southeastern counties), northeastern England, Lancashire and parts of west and north Wales.

Please contact the Greenland White-fronted Goose Study for further information about participating in this census.


The census is organised by the Greenland White-fronted Goose Study: please see their website for further information.