Bird of the Week: Pink Footed Goose

A winter visitor from the Arctic, this goose arrives – and leaves – en masse Tuesday, 12 February

By Caroline Offord
Photographs By Andy Hay, RSPB Images

The pink-footed goose is pinkish grey with a dark head and neck, with a pink bill, feet and legs. It does not nest in the UK, but large numbers spend the winter here, arriving in October from their breeding grounds in Spitsbergen, Iceland and Greenland and leaving in April. Numbers in England are on the increase, particularly in Norfolk, probably due to better protection at winter roosts. Around 360,000 pink-footed geese spend the winter here: that’s around 85% of the world’s population of these birds.

They feed on grain, winter cereals, potatoes and grass. Pink-footed geese are highly susceptible to human disturbance and research suggests that they avoid feeding in fields which are close to roads. 

To see or hear a flock of pink-footed geese as they lift off from their night time roost is an experience not to be missed and one of nature’s greatest sights. As many as ten thousand birds can fly in and out at any one time creating a spectacular aerial display, accompanied by a chorus of their high-pitched calls. You can see pink-footed geese near large estuaries, such as on the east Scottish coast, The Wash, the Ribble and the Solway, or on surrounding farmland where birds go in the day to feed. There are regularly more than 100,000 pink-footed geese in north Norfolk and the Broads. 

Find out more about pink-footed geese, including where to see them, here: pink-footed goose

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