Wednesday, 20 October 2010


Pink-footed Geese. Phil Slade.

I don't usually like abbreviated words and certainly don't ever like abbreviated names attached to birds and I use them very rarely although as a contradiction this post is an example of my doing so. I think the one which makes me cringe more than any other is 'Gropper' for the Grasshopper Warbler. So I was being a little facetious when I made the title of today's post PFG for Pink-footed Geese. Thanks for another photograph for me to use on Birds2blog Phil.

The Pink-footed Geese are back again for the winter with up to 10,000 which I saw on Pilling Marsh  on 5 October, and figures of twice that number recorded by other birders since that date. Yesterday JB and I estimated 15,000, a figure reached as a combination of birds on Pilling Marsh and Fluke Hall Lane. When you see these numbers of birds gathered in one place you cannot help but wonder if such areas like Pilling and Eagland Hill are going beyond their carrying capacity and therefore unable to support such numbers of geese throughout the winter months. The Fylde appears to hold dramatically increasing numbers of PFG year on year from 6,500 during the 1980's to last year when the north Fylde population reached a peak of 30,800 in an October co-ordinated roost count, and in fact another co-ordinated roost count in the county of Lancashire revealed a figure of almost 70,000 PFG. 

The PFG have quite possibly been the commonest geese in Lancashire since the very early 18th century, I came across the record of a Mr Blundell of Crosby Hall who made an entry in his diary in 1708 of a goose-shooting party made to a site in Little Crosby which continues to be frequented to this day.

As with any bird species numbers depend on the food availability and increasing numbers of PFG are now wintering in Norfolk where the birds have discovered for themselves the vast supply of sugar beet residues, whereas the lack of food availability in Lancashire means 'the squeeze is on' which may be due to loss of permanent inland pasture and of cereal stubble which is the result of the switch from spring to autumn sowing.

Two distinct populations breed in Iceland and Greenland, and in Svalbard with the latter wintering in Denmark and the Netherlands, there is no 'direct' evidence that Svalbard birds have ever occurred in Lancashire.

And finally....

Barn Owl. David Cookson. 

Well it's not just another Barn Owl pic, it's another excellent Barn Owl pic with thanks to DC.



Pete Marsh said...

Check the ringing report in the latest Lancs bird report, Pete
In haste


Pete Woodruff said...

Rather then edit the post I'll make the correction in the next one.

There's nothing like being bang up to date on your claim before you open your mouth.

I appreciate your pointing me in the direction of the report Pete.

Colin Bushell said...

Hi Pete. Another interesting and thought provoking post as usual. I've just sent sighting details to the WWT of a blue neck collared PFG I saw at Crossens at the weekend. I'm waiting for the "history" but I believe it's one of the Svalbald birds normally wintering in Denmark. There's a pic on ("Pleasant Sunday Morning Stuff" 17 October). I'll let you know when I get the feedback.

Pete Woodruff said...

Yes I'll be very interested in the history of this bird Colin and also interesting that the birds collar is 'blue' which I'm confident is one of the Salvard birds about which I almost made a comment to you on your website about the colour when I saw it but changed my mind for some reason or other even though I was aware the Iceland/Greenland birds carry silver with black figures/numbers.

Please watch for my 'correction edit' in the next post on Birds2blog as indicated in my comment above yours here.