Norfolk welcome for pink-footed geese
A record number of pink-footed geese roosted on the mudflats at the RSPB Snettisham nature reserve in Norfolk during the 2008 winter migration.
The largest number of pink-footed geese ever seen at the RSPB Snettisham nature reserve in north Norfolk, was recorded during the 2008 festive season.
Norfolk temporarily housed one third of the world's population of the species and the numbers are on the rise.
The majority of the geese can be found in north and west Norfolk, with the remainder throughout the Norfolk Broads.
The geese are settling on the mudflats
The pink-footed goose is medium-sized bird. Smaller than a mute swan, but bigger than a mallard, it has distinctive pink feet and legs.
Pink-footed geese arrive in mid-September as winter visitors to the UK. The birds breed in Iceland and eastern Greenland, but spend the winter months in the milder climes of Lancashire, east and central Scotland and Norfolk.
At Snettisham, the geese roost on the mudflats of the Wash, before they leave the roosting grounds at dawn in flocks of thousands.
"Our last peak count was back in January 2006 with 49,610 birds, but we've smashed this record with 51,995 geese counted in early December," said Paul Eele, RSPB Warden.
"Currently the geese appear to be feeding in the fields close to the RSPB Snettisham reserve. This probably accounts for the large number of geese roosting at the reserve in December. Things would probably be different if the food source was farther away," he added.
The crowds wait to see the birds
The main reason the birds settle in Norfolk is down to one of the county's most famous crops.
"The pinkies are attracted to Norfolk because of the sugar beet," said Paul.
"The birds feed on the tops and tails of the sugar beet left in farmer's fields. This high-energy food helps the birds remain fit and keep warm through the winter months," he added.
last updated: 06/01/2009 at 12:02