Posted 12th Mar 2018
You'll certainly be amazed as a quarter of the world's pink-footed geese fly over your head
Following a brief Atlantic summer spent nesting on the open tundra of central Iceland, a pink-footed goose will move to open water, spending 25 days completely flightless, prior to moulting her wing feathers in preparation for the epic trek south. One mid-autumn day, with the wind in the right direction, the cold starting to bite and food beginning to run out, she will prepare to take flight and head off into the North Atlantic, with her family by her side.
Six hours later, she will land on the Faeroe Islands, where the family rests for a day before taking off again, this time aiming for Scotland. The next day, she will arrive at Montrose Basin on the Angus coast, and she won't be alone.
In October 2015, there were a record breaking 85,632 pink-footed geese counted at Montrose Basin, one quarter of the world's entire population. The flocks will roost overnight on the estuary's open water, leaving the basin at dawn to fly out to feed on surrounding fields. The sight and sound of thousands of geese heading overhead, skien after skien, 'ink ink'ing as they go proves to be one of the highlights of the autumn wildlife calendar.
The geese gather on the Montrose Basin in large numbers during October and November before moving on to other feeding grounds further south, in Lancashire and East Anglia.
How to do it
For the greatest spectacles, you should visit at dawn or dusk. Be sure to bring your binoculars and wrap up warm.
If you can't get to the special places listed below...
Pink-footed geese will move about a lot during winter, with flocks flying from Scotland to Lancashire to Norfolk and back in a few days.
Keep your eyes skywards, as a skien of high flying geese could indeed be pink-feet.
Montrose Basin in Angus plays host to one of the largest autumn gatherings of pink-footed geese in Scotland.
Lincolnshire, Gibraltar Point
Norfolk, Holme Dunes
Norfolk, Cley Marshes
Yorkshire, Spurn National Nature Reserve
Information provided by Wildlife Trusts / image courtesy of Pink-footed goose © Harry Bickerstaff