Reports and newsletter
WWT has been involved in goose and swan monitoring since the 1940s. Below is a selection of reports and papers that present the results from some of the surveys and projects that we have been involved in.
This in includes the results of many of the Goose & Swan Monitoring Programme (GSMP) surveys, which are available in reports and/or published as papers in journals; along with the annual newsletter of the GSMP, GooseNews, which provides various GSMP information.
GooseNews is the annual newsletter of WWT’s Goose & Swan Monitoring Programme. It contains reports from monitoring activities, information on forthcoming surveys, and other information of relevance and interest to those involved with goose and swan monitoring in the UK.
International Swan Census
The International Swan Census aims to estimate population size and identify important wintering sites of Bewick’s and Whooper Swans. The first census was in 1986 and it is conducted every five years.
Find out more about the International Swan Census
Bewick’s Swan census reports
Worden, J., P.A. Cranswick, O. Crowe, G. McElwaine & E.C. Rees. 2006. Numbers and distribution of Bewick’s Swan Cygnus columbianus bewickii wintering in Britain and Ireland: results of the International Censuses, January 1995, 2000 and 2005. Wildfowl 56: 3-22. Download
Beekman, J.H. 1997. Censuses of NW European Bewick’s Swan population January 1990 and 1995. Swan Specialist Group Newsletter 6: 7-9. Download
Beekman, J.H., S. Dirksen & T.H. Slagboom. 1985. Population size and breeding success of Bewick’s Swans wintering in Europe in 1983-4. Wildfowl 36: 5-12. Download
An overview of Bewick’s Swan population trends up to the 2005 International Swan Census was also published in: Rees, E.C. & J.H. Beekman. 2010. Northwest European Bewick’s Swans: a population in decline. British Birds 103: 640-650. Download
Whooper Swan census reports
Hall, C., O. Crowe, G. McElwaine, Ó. Einarsson, N. Calbrade & E. Rees. 2016. Population size and breeding success of the Icelandic Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus: results of the 2015 International Census. Wildfowl 66: 75-97. Download
Crowe, O., J.G. McElwaine, H. Boland & I.J. Enlander. Whooper Cygnus cygnus and Bewick’s C. columbianus bewickii Swans in Ireland: results of the International Swan Census, January 2015. 2015. Irish Birds 10: 151-158.
Hall, C., J.R. Glanville, H. Boland, Ó. Einarsson, G. McElwaine, C.A. Holt, C.J. Spray & E.C. Rees. 2012. Population size and breeding success of Icelandic Whooper Swans Cygnus cygnus: results of the 2010 international census. Wildfowl 62: 73-96. Download
Boland, H., J.G. McElwaine, G. Henderson, C. Hall, A. Walsh & O. Crowe. 2010. Whooper Cygnus cygnus and Bewick’s C. columbianus bewickii Swans in Ireland: results of the International Swan Cenus January 2010. Irish Birds 9: 1-10. Download
Worden, J., O. Crowe, Ó. Einarsson, A. Garðarsson, G. McElwaine & E.C. Rees. 2009. Population size and breeding success of the Icelandic Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus: results of the January 2005 International Census. Wildfowl 59:17-40. Download
Crowe, O., J.G. McElwaine, J. Worden, G.A. Watson, A. Walsh & H. Boland. 2005. Whooper Cygnus cygnus and Bewick’s C. columbianus bewickii Swans in Ireland: results of the International Swan Census, January 2005. Irish Birds 7: 483-488. Download
Cranswick, P.A., K. Colhoun, Ó. Einarsson, J.G. McElwaine, A. Garðarsson, M.S. Pollitt & E.C. Rees. 2002. The Status and Distribution of the Icelandic Whooper Swan population: Results of the International Whooper Swan Census 2000. In: Rees, E.C., S.L. Earnst & J.C. Coulson (eds.). Proceedings of the Fourth International Swan Symposium, 2001. Waterbirds 25 (Special Publication 1): 37-48.
Colhoun, K., J.G. McElwaine, P.A. Cranswick, I. Enlander & O.J. Merne. 2000. Numbers and distribution of Whooper Cygnus cygnus and Bewick’s C. columbianus bewickii Swans in Ireland: results of the International Swan Census, January 2000. Irish Birds 6: 485-494.
Cranswick, P.A., J.M. Bowler, S. Delany, Ó. Einarsson, A. Garðarsson, J.G. McElwaine, E.C. Rees & J.H. Wells. 1997. Whooper Swans wintering in Britain, Ireland and Iceland: International Census, January 1995. Wildfowl 47: 17-30. Download
Kirby, J., E.C. Rees, O. Merne & A. Garðarsson. 1992. International census of Whooper Swans in Britain, Ireland and Iceland: January 1991. Wildfowl 43: 20-26. Download
Black, J.M. 1986. The January 1986 Whooper Swan census in Britain, Ireland and Iceland. Wildfowl 37: 172-174. Download
Icelandic-breeding Goose Census
The Icelandic-breeding Goose Census (IGC) started in the UK in 1960 and now includes over 120 sites internationally. It aims to estimate population sizes of Icelandic-breeding geese – Greenland/Iceland Pink-footed Goose and Iceland Greylag Goose – and identify important wintering areas.
Find out more about the Icelandic-breeding Goose Census
IGC 2017 report
IGC 2016 report
IGC 2015 report
IGC 2014 report
IGC 2013 report
IGC 2012 report
IGC 2011 report
IGC 2010 report
IGC 2009 report
IGC 2008 report
IGC 2007 report
IGC 2006 report
IGC 2005 report
IGC 2004 report
IGC 2003 report
IGC 2002 report
IGC 2001 report
IGC 2000 report
IGC 1999 report
IGC 1998 report
IGC 1997 report
IGC 1996 report
IGC 1995 report
IGC 1994 report
IGC 1993 report
IGC 1992 report
IGC 1991 report
IGC 1990 report
IGC 1989 report
IGC 1988 report
IGC 1987 report
IGC 1986 report
IGC 1985 report
IGC 1984 report
IGC 1983 report
IGC 1982 report
IGC 1981 report
IGC 1980 report
IGC 1979 report
IGC 1978 report
IGC 1977 report
IGC 1976 report
IGC 1975 report
IGC 1974 report
IGC 1973 report
IGC 1972 report
IGC 1971 report
IGC 1970 report
IGC 1969 report
IGC 1968 report
IGC 1967 report
IGC 1966 report
IGC 1965 report
IGC 1964 report
IGC 1963 report
IGC 1962 report
IGC 1961 report
IGC 1960 report
Mid-winter and spring Pink-footed and Greylag Goose counts
Spring counts of Pink-footed and Iceland Greylag Geese in Britain were carried out from 1982 to 1986, from 1988 to 1990 and from 1994 to 1996. The aim of these surveys was to determine the location of key sites used by the geese during late winter and spring, outwith the traditional autumn and early winter (IGC) counts.
A spring count was re-introduced during the 2011/12 season and will be repeated on a three-yearly cycle. Results from these counts are available in the Icelandic-breeding Goose Census reports (see above).
Mid-winter and spring counts of Pink-footed and Greylag Geese
Greenland White-fronted Goose Census
The Greenland White-fronted Goose Census started in the winter of 1982/83 and aims to assess population size and reproductive success, and identify important wintering sites for Greenland White-fronted Geese in the UK and Ireland. Reports can also be downloaded from GWGS resources, including reports for censuses prior to 2000/01.
Find out more about the Greenland White-fronted Goose Census
Greenland White-fronted Goose Census reports
Surveys of British Greylag Geese
A number of different surveys of British Greylag Geese have been conducted throughout Scotland to assess the abundance, distribution and breeding success of this population. There have been two Scotland-wide surveys in 1997 and 2008-09, as well as a number of more localised surveys of key areas such as Orkney.
Archipelago-wide surveys in Orkney have been conducted each August since 2012. The 2012 survey included a random stratified survey on Mainland, and made recommendations for future monitoring of Greylag Geese in Orkney. A number of other key areas, including the Uists, are also surveyed annually and these results can be found here.
Find out more about the Scottish Greylag Goose Survey.
Scottish Greylag Goose Survey reports
Results from the 2008 and 2009 surveys were published in an SNH commissioned report:
Mitchell, C., L. Griffin, M. Trinder & J. Newth. 2010. The population size of breeding Greylag Geese Anser anser in Scotland in 2008/09. Scottish Natural Heritage Commissioned Report No. 371.
Results from the 1997 survey were published in Scottish Birds as:
Mitchell, C., D. Patterson, P. Boyer, P. Cunningham, R. MacDonald, E. Meek, J.D. Okill & F. Symonds 2000. The summer status and distribution of Greylag Geese in north and west Scotland. Scottish Birds 21: 69-77. Download
Orkney Greylag Goose Survey reports
Outer Hebrides Greylag Goose breeding success survey reports
International Census of Greenland Barnacle Geese
Using ground and aerial counts, the International Census of Greenland Barnacle Geese aims to assess the population size and distribution, and important wintering sites of Greenland Barnacle Geese in the UK and Ireland. It began in 1959 and is carried out approximately every five years.
Find out more about the International Census of Greenland Barnacle Geese
International Greenland Barnacle Goose Census reports
Walsh, A.J. & O. Crowe. 2008. Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis in Ireland, spring 2008. Irish Birds 8: 430-432. Download
Merne, O.J. & A. Walsh. 2003. Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis in Ireland, spring 2003. Irish Birds 7: 173-176.
Cranswick, P.A., C.R. Mitchell, O.J. Merne, M. Kershaw, S.N. Delany, M. Mackay & R. Lilley. Status and distribution of the Greenland population of Barnacle Goose in Britain and Ireland, 1993 to 1999. Unpublished Report. The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge.
Merne, O.J. & A. Walsh. 2002. Barnacle Geese in Ireland, spring 1999. Irish Birds 7: 53-56.
Delany, S. & M.A. Ogilvie. 1994. Greenland Barnacle Geese in Scotland, March 1994. WWT report to JNCC. The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge.
Merne, O.J. & A. Walsh. 1994. Barnacle Geese in Ireland, spring 1993 and 1994. Irish Birds 5: 151-156.
Fox, A.D., M.A. Ogilvie, N. Easterbee & E.M. Bignal. 1990. East Greenland Barnacle Geese in Scotland, Spring 1988. Scottish Birds 1990 16: 1-10. Download
Walsh, A. & O.J. Merne. 1988. Barnacle Geese Branta leucopsis in Ireland, spring 1988. Irish Birds 3: 539-550.
Ogilvie, M.A. 1983. The numbers of Greenland Barnacle Geese in Britain and Ireland. Wildfowl 34: 77-88. Download
Ogilvie, M.A. & H. Boyd. 1975. Greenland Barnacle Geese in the British Isles. Wildfowl 26: 139-147. Download
Boyd, H. 1968. Barnacle Geese in the west of Scotland, 1957-67. Wildfowl 19: 96-107. Download
Dark-bellied Brent Goose supplementary counts
Dark-bellied Brent Geese have been monitored annually in the UK through the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) since the 1940s. During the 1970s and 80s, the population grew rapidly and associated with that growth was the increasing use of inland habitats by the geese for foraging. As a result, supplementary censuses of the population were undertaken between 1985/86 and 1994/95 that included extra effort to cover those sites not already monitored by WeBS.
Dark-bellied Brent Goose supplementary count reports
Dark-bellied Brent Goose age assessments
Age assessments made at wintering and stop-over sites are used to determine the annual reproductive success of goose populations. Dark Bellied Brent Goose age assessments have been carried out at many UK wintering sites every year since 1985.
The age assessment report was discontinued after the 2007 breeding season. Detailed results for 2008 onwards are posted on the latest results page for Dark-bellied Brent Goose and summarised in GooseNews.
Find out more about goose age assessments
Dark-bellied Brent Goose age assessment reports
Feeding distributions of geese in the UK
WWT have undertaken several projects looking at the feeding distribution of geese in the UK. This information is becoming increasingly important for advising on changes in land use, such as wind farm developments, for looking at potential conflicts between geese and people, and for safeguarding important habitats for geese.
Find out more about our work on goose feeding distributions.
Feeding distribution reports
Bell, M.C. & E.C. Rees. 1994. The distribution of Pink-footed and Greylag Geese in relation to agriculture in Britain. Report to Joint Nature Conservation Committee. Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge. Download
Brides, K., Mitchell, C. & Hearn R.D. 2013. Mapping the distribution of feeding Pink-footed Geese in England. Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust / Natural England Report, Slimbridge. 43pp. Download
Brooks, P. & C. Mitchell. 1996. Winter bird surveys on proposed Special Protection Areas in Scotland, 1995-96: Greenland White-fronted Geese in Kintyre. Report to Scottish Natural Heritage. Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge.
Cranswick, P.A. 1992. Distribution of Pink-footed and Greylag Geese in South-east Scotland, especially in relation to disturbance. Report to Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland. Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge. Download
Hearn, R.D. & C. Mitchell. 1995. Goose Distribution and Feeding around Loch Leven NNR. Report to Scottish Natural Heritage. WWT, Slimbridge. Download
Hearn, R.D., C. Mitchell, I. Munro & M. Ness. 1996. Goose Distribution and Feeding around Loch Leven NNR. Report to Scottish Natural Heritage. WWT, Slimbridge. Download
Mitchell, C. 2012. Mapping the distribution of feeding Pink-footed and Iceland Greylag Geese in Scotland. Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust / Scottish Natural Heritage Report, Slimbridge. Download
Rowell, H.E. & J.A. Robinson. 2004. Feeding areas for Dark-bellied Brent Geese Branta bernicla bernicla around Special Protection Areas (SPAs) in the UK. The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge. Download
Stenhouse, I.J. 1993. Grey geese in the Moray Firth. Report to Scottish Natural Heritage. WWT, Slimbridge. Download
Waterbird Review Series
The Waterbird Review Series brings together up to four decades of data and knowledge from the long-term monitoring programmes of swan and migratory goose populations that winter in Britain and Ireland. In each review, introductory sections describe abundance, distribution and ecology, particularly in Britain and Ireland but also through the population’s range. Gaps in our knowledge are identified and the conservation threats facing the population are described. Central to each review is a detailed inventory of important sites, where numbers and trends are presented along with a summary of site protection status, habitats and site usage by the population. This includes all internationally and nationally important sites in the late 1990s, but also sites of former importance where numbers have declined.
Download the Waterbird Review series below
- Mute Swan
- Bewick’s Swan
- Whooper Swan
- Bean Goose
- Pink-footed Goose
- Greater White-fronted Goose
- Iceland Greylag Goose
- Dark-bellied Brent Goose
- Canadian Light-bellied Brent Goose
- East Atlantic Light-bellied Brent Goose
Note: Although not part of this series, a review of the Greenland White-fronted Goose in Ireland and Britain 1982/83-1993/94 (Fox et al. 1994) has previously been published and is available from the Greenland White-fronted Goose Study web site (greenlandwhitefront.org).