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Greylag Goose - Grågås - Anser anser
- Grågås - Merihanhi - Grauwe gans - Graugans - Oie cendrée - Ansar Común

In recent years (since 2002?) there has been a steady increase in the number of Greylags breeding in Øygarden. For birders and the local raptor population this is great news as both adults and young can fall prey to White-tailed Eagle, Eagle Owl and Goshawk. Hopefully this increase helps to offset the decline in seabirds such that these impressive birds of prey can continue to flourish.

Flocks of up to a couple of hundred Greylags gather in April and are often put to flight by White-tailed Eagles. A colour ringing study is also underway and birds that have been seen in the Harkestad - Tjeldstø - Sture area which were ringed during moulting  further south in Norway have been resighted in both Germany and Holland. At least one bird (VJ3) has continued to breed near Husvatnet, Tjeldstø.

Greylag taking off
Greylag taking off, Tjeldstø, Øygarden, April 2011

Greylag in flight
Greylag in flight, taken from my terrace, 29 March 2008
Picture taken using hand-held DSLR and 400mm telephoto lens

Greylag chicks are a common sight in Øygarden
Greylag chicks are a common sight in Øygarden, Nautnes, 15 May 2007
The first young birds are generally seen in the last few days of April / first few days of May

Greylag nest, April 2019
Greylag nest, early April

VJ3 at Harkestad, April 2019
This bird has been seen in Holland in the winter months but returns to Tjeldstø to breed
Other neck-ringed birds that have been observed in Øygarden have been sighted in Germany during the winter

This is the first time I saw "VJ", April 2018

VJ history
And the data that came up when I entered his details - this bird has been seen in the area many times since then and it is always interesting to see the number of sightings building up. The site I use to report these sightings is this one.

White-tailed Eagle scaring the geese, Tjeldstø, May 2018

White-tailed Eagle scaring the geese, Tjeldstø, May 2018

White-tailed Eagle scaring the geese, Tjeldstø, May 2018
White-tailed Eagle scaring the geese, Tjeldstø, May 2018

Greylags have some well developed defence strategies against predation by White-tailed Eagles. As soon as the eagles are sighted gesse from a large area flock together and will often land on one of the lakes - Husvatnet at Tjeldstø is particularly popular. Seeing a large flock of gesse swimming out on the water here is a good sign that an eagle has been in the area very recently. Once they have young they can no longer do this so they get out into open water with their young gathered together between them, then, as the eagle stoops to attack the young are told to dive and the adults flap their wings and stretch their necks out towards the eagle - sometimes even jumping out of the water towards the eagle. This tactic is surprisingly effective and saves many young birds.

Greylag Goose
Tjeldstø, 20 December 2005. Probably an Icelandic visitor.
Above and below digiscoped images with Nikon Coolpix

Greylag Goose, Tjeldstø

Tjeldstø, 31 March 2004

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