Record number of geese migrate to Scottish reserve

THE record-breaking number of pink-footed geese at the Montrose Basin Wildlife Reserve in Angus has twice been beaten within a number of days.

There are almost 80,000 pink footed geese at the wildlife reserve in Montrose. Picture: Donald MacLeod

There are now almost 80,000 of the birds, an incredible total which has shocked the staff whose job it is to count them for a census.

Last week, 70,153 geese were recorded at the Scottish Wildlife Trust reserve Montrose - beating the previous record of 65,060 set in 2010.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But the number has now risen to 78,970.

The latest count, which took place on Sunday, was part of the Icelandic-breeding Goose Census, a coordinated effort to assess the number of pink-footed geese and Icelandic greylag geese in the world.

During the survey, pink-footed geese counts are undertaken at over 120 sites across the UK, Ireland, the Faroe Islands and Norway. The results are published in the springtime.

Ten volunteers took part in this latest count, ensuring the accuracy of the numbers.

On average, 60,000 pink-footed geese each year descend on Montrose Basin, where they spend the winter months after making a colossal 1,200 kilometre migration from Greenland and Iceland.

Around 372,000 pink-footed geese spend the winter in the UK, thoughts to be around 90 per cent of the world’s population.

The Scottish Wildlife Trust Reserve Manager for the North East, Rab Potter, said:”The number of pink-footed geese at Montrose Basin this year has taken all of us by surprise. Currently, pink-footed geese outnumber people in Montrose by almost seven to one.

“The Scottish Wildlife Trust would recommend that anyone who has yet to see – and hear - the pink-footed geese do so as soon as possible. At the moment, there are pink-footed geese on Montrose Basin at all times of the day, which is a great opportunity for visitors, but it is very difficult to know how long they will stay in these numbers.”

There are plenty of opportunities for members of the public to see the birds, although dawn is the optimum viewing time.

Until the end of October, the Scottish Wildlife Trust Montrose Basin Visitor Centre is open daily 10.30am to 5pm.