Sound of Pinkies... win­ter’s not that far away

Midweek Visiter - - The Sefton Coast -

HERE’S the same elec­tric charge every au­tumn when you hear them again – and you usu­ally hear them be­fore you see them – as skeins of Pink Footed Geese be­gin to ar­rive along the Sefton coast from Marsh­side down to Crosby.

The call is fa­mil­iar to any­one who has spent any amount of time on the coast and is evoca­tive of the win­ter days that loom on the hori­zon, al­though you can’t hold that against the geese.

Thou­sands of “Pinkies” spend the win­ter months with us, graz­ing and for­ag­ing on the West Lan­cashire farm­lands dur­ing the day and roost­ing on the Rib­ble Es­tu­ary or at other safe spots like the sands off Hightown.

Roost­ing out on the sands and mud­flats makes it a whole lot harder for a preda­tor like a fox to sneak up on the doz­ing geese as there is less veg­e­ta­tion out there to mask a stalk­ing hunter.

Their daily com­mute in huge “v” shaped skeins which re­duce wind re­sis­tance for the trav­el­ling birds is as much a part of the com­ing months in Sefton as are the short­en­ing days and fall­ing leaves.

Ef­fi­cient and high-speed fly­ers, satel­lite track­ing and tag­ging has re­vealed Pinkies can make the long jour­ney down from Ice­land and into Scot­land in about 18 hours.

Af­ter that they make the short hop south to our coast­line – al­though some flocks com­plete the en­tire jour­ney in a sin­gle flight.

The first few tend to turn up in the last days of Au­gust, al­though at this stage it is al­ways hard to be sure whether they are new ar­rivals or one of the small num­ber that over-sum­mer, whether through in­jury or feral ori­gin.

Then by the mid­dle of Septem­ber more and more come wing­ing in from sum­mer breed­ing ar­eas on Ice­land, Green­land and Sval­bard, drop­ping down onto the Rib­ble and the sur­round­ing farm­land to graze al­most as soon as their big pink feet hit the ground.

Tens of thou­sands of th­ese spe­cial birds will be with us from now through to next spring – and the RSPB re­serve at Marsh­side, the Alt es­tu­ary at Hightown (early morn­ing and late af­ter­noon) and the Wild­fowl and Wet­lands Trust’s cen­tre at Martin Mere, are great places to watch them.

Care­ful and quiet ob­ser­va­tion of the flocks re­veals ringed or col­lared birds which can be iden­ti­fied in­di­vid­u­ally if the ring or col­lar can be seen well enough to read.

A graz­ing car­pet of thou­sands of “grey geese” can be a bit daunt­ing at first, but the flocks can hold other species in­clud­ing Bar­na­cle, White­fronted and Bean Geese – win­ter trea­sure amongst the “Pinkie” horde!

John Dempsey

Top, a Pink Footed Goose

Dave McAleavy

Above, pinkies drop into the Rib­ble marshes

John Dempsey

The dis­tinc­tive skeins of Pink Footed Geese trace across our skies through­out au­tumn and win­ter

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.