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Brora twitcher spots rare goose

By SPP Reporter

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The red-breasted goose (front) is a rare visitor to these shores
The red-breasted goose (front) is a rare visitor to these shores

A RARE sighting of a Red-breasted Goose has been reported by a keen Brora bird watcher.

Lonie Mackintosh, Tigh Fein, Achrimsdale, said the goose was first observed at Crofter’s Park, next to Clynelish Distillery last Friday.

It was still in the area on Saturday but by Sunday had gone.

Red-breasted geese are reducing in numbers and are rarely sighted in the UK – they are usually found in Siberia.

Lonie was first alerted to its presence on the Saturday by his daughter, Jane Roney.

He said "My daughter noticed it as she was walking out – she spotted its red breast – and after she told me about it, I went out with my camera and binoculars."

Lonie, a project manager in the building trade, found that the goose had already attracted a considerable amount of attention from twitchers. "There was a lot of interest in it and there were at least half-a-dozen cars parked nearby when I went out," he said.

Along with the rest of the group, he watched from about around 100 metres away as the bird, apparently unperturbed, went about its routine.

"It was just grazing and bathing in hollows in the field," he said.

The goose was in the company of a Pink-footed Goose and another, larger bird, which Lonie was unable to identify.

He says: "The picture I took shows three birds. The smaller one at the front is the Red-breasted Goose and the one behind it is a Pink-footed Goose but I don’t know what the big one at the back is – it is not common to this area either.

"I was hoping that Northern Times readers might be able to help."

Lonie regularly goes out on bird watching expeditions to Loch Fleet, Littleferry and Nigg as well as other areas.

"I quite like a bit of bird watching and just keep an eye on places," he says.

RSPB’s communication manager Alan Tissiman told the Northern Times: "The Red-Breasted Goose is a bird of real conservation concern and a considerable amount of research is currently being undertaken into its habits in order to try to help the population.

"Typically they spend the winter months in the Danube area of eastern Europe before returning to the high tundra to breed. Very occasionally, they turn up in the British Isles but it is certainly unusual. A very good sighting indeed for Sutherland!"

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