September 18th   Leave a comment

Four pale-bellied brent geese came past Crail this evening, heading into the Forth during a brief seawatch: my first of the winter. It’s goose season in September. We get the pink-feet in first, often very early in September, Brents mid September and then Barnacles at the end. The other geese – greylags and bean geese usually turn up in October, and if we are very lucky rarer ones too. We haven’t had a rare goose winter since 2011, when we had a few bean geese (both types) and white-fronted geese with the pink-foot flocks between Crail and Anstruther, or 2007 when we even had a snow goose (from North America) out at Damside, just north of Crail. We need cold weather right across Europe (and further inland in the UK) to bring the rarer geese, and the big pink-footed goose flocks that carry them, to East Neuk fields. This has become a scarce commodity as north-western Europe in particular has warmed up in the winter. It has become hard to tell whether many species that have become scarcer in the UK during winter have just been not bothering to come here because its remains nice in central Europe, or whether they have genuinely declined in population. A bit of both I should think. We can still expect goose winters though, even if they are less frequent, and we can always hope that this winter might just be another one.

A pale-bellied brent goose. Pale-bellieds breed in Spitzbergen and migrate down to the UK coasts for the winter (JA)

Posted September 18, 2019 by wildcrail in Sightings

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