After the eider, the pink-footed goose is the signature bird on the Basin. The sounds of the birds returning from the breeding grounds in Iceland and Greenland heralds the coming of autumn to all who live in and around Montrose. The number of “pinkfeet” wintering in the UK have been rising steadily over the past 20 years and the record number of geese on the Basin has been broken every year from 2010-15
The pattern of arrival is similar each year, with a small number seen around 14th September followed by maximum numbers in the middle of October. The actual arrival dates and the maximum numbers seen is dependent on the weather and the availability of food. The birds will wait for a favourable weather system to assist their flight from the North West arctic regions. If they are "blocked" by adverse weather, then they may arrive later and in greater numbers. If there is plenty of food available (grain, grass and potatoes) then they will remain in the area for longer leading to a build-up of numbers. It has been found that pinkfeet have large feeding areas - from 21-69 sqKm, although they have a core area which they visit more often.
Eventually, they will continue their migration to Morecombe Bay and The Wash and the numbers on the Basin will fall to only a few thousand in December and January. The return to the arctic breeding grounds happens imperceptively with counts fading away during February and March to leave only a few birds which might stay all summer. These are weak or injured birds that cannot make the migration flight.
|11th Sept 2014 - 65||11th Sept 2015 - 253||-||13th Sept 2017 - c.400|
|15th Sept 2014 - 340||-||16th Sept 2016 - 163||16th Sept 2017 - 1600|
|-||-||17th Sept 2016 - 411||17th Sept 2017 - 2201|
|20th Sept 2014 - 900||-||20th Sept 2016 - c.1,075||-|
|21st Sept 2014 - 3755||-||-||-|
|22nd Sept 2014 - 4778||-||-||-|
|26th Sept 2014 - 11328||27th Sept 2015 - 22050||26th Sept 2016 - c.2,850||-|
|29th Sept 2014 - c.20,000||29th Sept 2015 - c.50,000||29th Sept 2016 - 23000||-|
|3rd Oct 2014 - 38685||1st Oct 2015 - 54412||1st Oct 2016 - c.40,000||3rd Oct 2017 - c.20,000|
|8th Oct 2014 - 44043||8th Oct 2015 - 56637||7th Oct 2016 - 60998||6th Oct 2017 - 58324|
|14th Oct 2014 - 70153||-||13th Oct 2016 - 71329||12th Oct 2017 - c70,000|
|19th Oct 2014 - 78,970||18th Oct 2015 - 85,632||18th Oct 2016 - 90,000+||20th Oct 2017 - 47273|
|-||-||23rd Oct 2016 - 42840||22nd Oct 2017 - 50309|
|26th Oct 2014 - c.40,000||27th Oct 2015 - 34983||-||23rd Oct 2017 - c.80,000|
|-||-||4th Nov 2016 - 38038||3rd Nov 2017 - c.15,000|
|16th Nov 2014 - 32729||15th Nov 2015 - 32926||20th Nov 2016 - 30212||19th Nov 2017 - 7872|
|-||-||-||28th Nov 2017 - c.12,000|
|-||-||-||4th Dec 2017 - c.15,000|
|-||-||-||28th Dec 2017 - c.10,000|
|12th Dec 2014 - c.12,000||-||-||-|
|16th Jan 2015 - c.8,000||-||5th Jan 2017 - 1030||-|
|21st Jan 2015 - c.5,000||-||-||-|
|1st Mar 2015 - 1901||-||-||-|
Highest number for each year in BOLD.
It has been found that some of the non-breeding pinkfeet fly from Iceland to Greenland to moult, while the others stay and moult in Iceland. It is thought that the greater availability and quality of grass available in Greenland makes the effort of flying 1,200Km worthwhile.
The best place to to see the large flocks of geese is from the viewing blind at Tayock. While there may be some on the Basin during daytime, the best times are at first light when the roosting birds take off (en masse if you are lucky) or at sunset when they flock in to roost overnight.
These are the largest count for each month.
Numbers in Bold are the yearly maximum.