Goose Flies from UK to Iceland in 7 Hours Skip to content

Goose Flies from UK to Iceland in 7 Hours

By Yelena

barnacle goose
Photo: Oswald Pietzsch / Wikimedia Commons. A barnacle goose in flight.

It’s springtime in Iceland and geese are returning to the island’s shores in droves. GPS tracking has given researchers fascinating insight into their journeys, which are surprisingly quick though not always direct, RÚV reports. One barnacle goose had the best recorded time, crossing some 900 km [560 mi] from the UK to Iceland in just seven hours.

“It was in a strong northerly wind. It flew well over 100 km [62 mi] per hour,” says Arnór Þórir Sigfússon, a wildlife ecologist at Verkís, about the aforementioned record-holder. Arnór is monitoring some 20 geese equipped with a GPS tracker. Eight of them have already arrived in Iceland, while one is believed to be outside the service area or possibly dead.

The GPS trackers are lightweight and operate with the help of solar-powered batteries. The goose journeys they track are not always direct, with a few geese appearing to turn southward before reaching Iceland, then correcting course. One goose flew westward around Vatnajökull, Iceland’s largest glacier, to reach its nesting ground in North Iceland, rather than flying directly across the icy peaks.

In 2019, a greylag goose and namesake of Arnór’s completed the journey from Scotland to Iceland in 20 hours, a distance of 1,115 km [693 mi].

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