Wednesday 9 January 2019

20190109 Pink-footed Geese Thornage and Langham

20190112 Pink-footed Goose
Field sketches of a great Pink-foot winter.
Culminating in the spectacle of 10,600 birds on the Thornage beet fields.

The massed flocks of Pink-footed  Geese are now at their highest numbers on the North Norfolk Coast and have become a major winter wildlife spectacle and success story here. This population increase has partly been fuelled by the widespread  planting of sugar beet in the region and a decline in wildfowling.

Pink-foot are rather fickle over their choices of beet fields ignoring many recently harvested fields near ones they have fed in for days. This is probably due to the aspect of the field in giving a good all round view so that the birds feel more secure. The beet fields around Thornage and Langham used this winter were ideal in this respect. On the 8th of January it became obvious from the Fakenham road that a massive gathering of Pink-foot was building in the Thornage area to the South. During  the afternoon and evening of the 9th flocks kept arriving from further inland, the count reaching 10,600 birds before they moved off to the NW to roost overnight. Over 80,000 birds now winter in the Wash and along the North Norfolk Coast a large proportion of  well over 300,000 birds in the British Isles. These are fantastic figures considering only 100 birds were recorded for  Norfolk in 1974.  A Barnacle Goose was in the Langham flock and is highly likely to be from the Greenland population being carried here within the vast Pink-foot flocks which breed there and in Iceland. Hopefully therefore a truly wild bird, and not of the large feral population resident about the North Norfolk Coast. See above, the black breasted bird .

Within the Thornage flock we found two collar ringed birds of great interest. The plastic collars were grey in colour with XCC on one and XCL the other. See above sketch of the Geese loafing in an un-harvested beet field . They were tagged in January 2018 at High Kelling as part of a Hull University project. Many thanks to the avid geese watchers in the Cley square for this data. XCC and XCL always appear together in the massed flocks and are thought to be a pair. So far this winter they have been recorded locally in the quite restricted area of Saxlingham, Cley Marshes, Langham, Blakeney Freshes and Thornage.

Hopefully they will soon be controlled either in Iceland or Greenland during this summers breeding season. The data is awaited.

20190109 Pink-foot
Part of 10,600 birds moving off NNW to the coast and roost from the Thornage beet fields.
Flocks had been arriving here from further inland all afternoon.
201901 Pink-footed Geese
Extremely leucistic bird seen here on the Lancashire mosses this winter and also in NW Norfolk.
Ref M A Golly
20190109 Partial Leucistic bird.

20190110 Pink-footed Goose.

20190112 Pink-footed Goose.
Grey collar ring XCL. 

20190112 Pink-footed Goose.
Grey collar rings XCL and XCC.
20190212 Tundra Bean Goose.
2 separated birds were within flock of 1,500 Pinkfoot nr Langham.

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