It’s that time of the year again, when summer slowly changes to autumn, the nights get noticeably shorter, the weather colder and the mood often duller. But no need to worry too much not all is bad, as the first few weeks of Autumn at Montrose Basin heralds the arrival of our most famous visitor, the Pink Footed Goose! Sunday, the 8th of September, saw the first individuals fly in from their northern breeding grounds in Iceland and Greenland. 46 individuals were counted, followed by 56 on the 9th and over 100 on the 11th.
So how do these first sightings compare to previous years? The first migrant sightings in 2012 and 2011 were made on the 5th (34 individuals) and 12th (971 individuals) of September respectively. In both the previous years the number of geese quickly rose, reaching 10,000 by the 14th last year and 5,200 by the 16th in 2011. So, although the first sighting this year was made at roughly the same time as the previous two years, we haven’t seen a sharp increase in numbers as of yet, and perhaps shouldn’t expect to until later on in the month. This pattern would be due to the fact that we have had a nicer, warmer summer than over the past few years, prolonging the birds stay in their native breeding grounds.
And how many Pink Footed Geese are we expecting to see this year? If trends from the past few years are anything to go by then we should be seeing around 65,000 individuals, with the peak occurring anytime from the end of September until mid October. The peaks in each of the last three years have been 65,060 in 2010, 63,356 in 2011 and 63,844 in 2012. However, it wouldn’t be unexpected for us to see nearer 70,000 birds this year, as this number was thought to be present last year, only for bad weather to disrupt the official goose count.
So hopefully the skies around Montrose will soon be filled with skenes of babbling geese, a noise that is, at least here, more than welcome. Why not come down to the visitor centre and see this great spectacle for yourself? Staff will be on hand to point out where the geese are and how best to identify them. Alternatively you can book a place on one of our People’s Postcode Lottery Goose Breakfasts. The events give you the chance to get up close and personal with the geese as they take to the air for their dawn flights, before heading back to the Visitor Centre for breakfast and a question and answer session with the Rangers. The events are being held on Sunday the 29th of September and Sunday the 27th of October, from 6.30 – 9.30am and cost £8 adults and £4 children. Booking is essential, so you can book your place by calling 01674 676336.
Visitor Centre Assistant Manager.