Overwinterde wilde ganzen in Vlaanderen 1990/91 - 2003/04

Koen Devos, Eckhart Kuijken, Christine Verscheure, Patrick Meire, L Benoy, W De Smet, J Gabriëls

    Research output: Contribution to journalA2: Article in a journal with peer review, not included in A1peer-review


    This article gives a general overview of the numbers, distribution and trends of wild geese in Flanders since 1990, based on the results of the mid-month waterbird counts (October – March). The distribution area of geese in Flanders is mainly limited to the eastern part of the coastal polders (‘Oostkustpolders’), the polder and creek area in the North of the province East Flanders, the polders and tidal flats in the Lower Scheldt area North of Antwerp, the Yzer valley and the Maas valley. The ‘Oostkustpolders’ are by some distance the most important goose area and account for an average of 71% of the total number of ‘goosedays’ in Flanders. The highest numbers of (wild) geese in Flanders occur annually in the period December – January, with an absolute maximum of slightly more than 90,000 in December 2001. The seasonal pattern varies from species to species. Greylag Goose and Pink-footed Goose show a rather early peak (usually November and December respectively), whilst White-fronted Goose, Bean Goose and Barnacle Goose are seen in the highest numbers at the earliest in January. In 11 from the 14 winters observed, the White-fronted Goose was the most numerous species. On average about 50% of the total goosedays in Flanders can be attributed to this species. Pink-footed Goose and Greylag Goose account for 29 and 21% respectively. The distribution of the various goose species show important differences. The presence of Pink-footed Goose is pretty much limited to the Oostkustpolders, whereas the White-fronted Goose – including the colonization of new areas – is more widely distributed. The centre of gravity of presence of the Greylag Goose lies mainly in the Lower Scheldt area. For Bean Goose the most important areas are situated in North East Flanders and the Maas valley. Wild Barnacle Geese join other goose species in the ‘Oostkustpolders’. The marked increase in other areas (also outside traditional goose areas) can for the most part be attributed to fast growing feral populations. Since the beginning of the 90s, there has been a clear increase in the number of geese, but since 2001/02 this trend seems to have stabilised. The total number of goosedays in Flanders has increased approximately fourfold since 1990.With the exception of the Bean Goose, all goose species show the same increasing trend. The greatest increase is to be found for the Greylag Goose. On the international front, Flanders holds an important position for the Pink-footed Goose. The proportion of the entire Spitzbergen population that winters in the Oostkustpolders increased from less than 40% in 1990 to about 90% in 2000. For the White-fronted Goose and Greylag Goose, the Flemish goose areas regularly accommodate 3-4% of the total North West European population. In four areas, 1% of the total geographic population of one or more species is recorded on a regular basis.
    Original languageDutch
    Issue numberBijlage
    Pages (from-to)4-20
    Number of pages17
    Publication statusPublished - 2005

    Thematic list

    • Species and biotopes

    EWI Biomedical sciences

    • B005-zoology

    Taxonomic list

    • waterfowl (Anseriformes)


    • monitoring network for policy support
    • Birds Directive

    Geographic list

    • Flanders

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