Late autumn each year heralds the arrival of huge flocks of geese to the Fylde – one of their favourite feedings grounds is right here at Cleveleys.
We lose track of time as the days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, but we can rely on the flocks of geese to remind us of the arrival of late autumn, and the passage of winter and spring, as they arrive on the Fylde Coast to overwinter before returning to their breeding grounds in the artic circle.
Around 360,000 birds arrive in the UK in October and leave in April, and they overwinter on large river estuaries and surrounding farmland where birds feed during the day, eating grass, grain, and winter cereals.
Winter feeding grounds of Pink Footed Geese – graphic from RSPB
The Wyre Estuary (and the Ribble) is one of these popular overwintering grounds and October is marked each year by their distinctive honking when they arrive back in their huge, V shaped skeins.
Each day great big flocks of birds arrive at the farmland between the A585 Amounderness Way and Rossall Road near the tramlines, to feed on the luscious grassland.
If you can get close enough you’ll see that they do look quite different to the Canada Geese which we are perhaps more familiar with – it’s a pinkish grey bird with a dark grey head and neck, a pink bill and of course pink feet and legs as its name would suggest.
This species of bird breeds in the arctic – the birds which breed in Iceland and Greenland head to the UK for winter. The ones that breed in Svalbard/Spitsbergen overwinter in the Netherlands/Norway/Germany.
According to the wonders of Google, it’s an incredible 1597 miles from the UK to Greenland. An amazing achievement and something that they’re just compelled to do, flying so many miles over sea and land twice each year – and without a map or gps.
Pink Footed Goose
Photo: James Lees – WWT
Pink Footed Geese feeding at Cleveleys