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Geese are divided into two main groups: the 'grey' geese and the 'black' geese. Grey geese are all large birds with an overall brown-grey plumage mottled and streaked by various shades. The greylag goose, the ancestor of our farmyard goose, is the largest and best known. White-fronted goose is a winter visitor from the far north, as are pink-footed goose and bean goose.

Of the black geese, canada goose and barnacle goose occur in Essex as introduced species breeding on lakes and reservoirs. Both are basically black-and-white. Brent goose is a winter visitor in large numbers to our estuaries. Red-breasted goose, unmistakable with its red breast and cheek patch, is a rare visitor sometimes mixed up with brent goose flocks.

© Gerald Downey