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The geese have started to arrive at Carsebreck !


Last Sunday me and dad went up on a walk on the moors near my house to explore an old abandoned quarry which used to produce millstones 150 years ago. We parked the car on a road nearby, and we we were walking up the hill when we spotted all these birds in the fields opposite. There seemed to be hundred of them all resting in the fields, most of them in one big group. This is really unusual but I worked out what was going on. This is a photograph of just one small part of the main group I saw:

I looked closer in my binoculars and I realised they were geese. I knew straightaway from the colour dark heads and black and orange bills that they were pink-footed geese.

Near where I live are three big lochs, the Upper Rhynd, the Lower Rhynd and Carsebreck Loch. These are a few miles away from where we saw these geese.There is lots of wildlife all year round on the Rhynds, and I wrote about them last year. Carsebreck is a big shallow loch which is in a famous picture at the National Galleries of Scotland. Nowdays it is famous because thousands of pink-footed and greylag geese come here every year from Greenland and Iceland for the winter. The loch is in a really cold part of Scotland, but to the geese it is still warmer than where they came from. There are not many bushes round the lochs and it can get very windy. This is the warning sign as you walk to the lochs:

And this is Carsebreck loch itself:

Dad thought the geese were arriving early, but he looked through his pictures, and he saw the first arrivals on the 14 September last year so it's about right. Last year he only saw a few dozen at first, but in these fields we must have seen 500 or more.

It was amazing to see so many in one go. Then they startled by a car and they all flew off in one huge group.

Dad took some video as they took off to record how many there were and the huge noise which was incredible, like bats all coming out of a cave !

The last time we had seen them this year was in the middle of April, when the geese move back to Iceland and Greenland. We were high up on the moors and we could see a huge flock of geese flying around the lochs and around Orchil House.

Often when they fly they fly in a "v" shape with one bird taking the lead at a time.

I didn't see any greylags in the group, but they come too and they look very similar. The way to tell them apart is that greylags have no black on the beak and their heads are the same colour as their bodies. Here is a greylags I saw when I visited RSPB Loch Leven last May.

Some of the pink-footed geese will die in the long journey. Here is a skeleton I found a few miles from the lochs about 2 1/2 years ago. I wrote here about how I discovered it was a pink-footed goose from the skull.

This is one of my pink-footed goose skulls. This one came off the skeleton above.

I hope to watch more of these birds during the winter. It is amazing that 15,000 of them all make the long journey every year to just a few miles from my house.

Also see... the same weekend, another kid blogger called Findlay wrote about how he saw 7,000 pinkfoots arrive on his pretty cool blog called Wilde About Birds !

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Findlay Wilde said...

Great pictures of the Pink Footed Geese love the Greylag as well. P.S your blog is great as well.

Jake said...

Hi Findlay, Cool ! I found your blog after Chris Packham mentioned it. (Here it is for everyone else)I was lucky with the pictures because the geese were quite near the road but dad took most of them.

Jack N said...

It said on bbc news they wouldn't do the cull this year, but they might do it next year.They didn't say it would be anywhere specific, so I'm guessing it's everywhere.

Ray said...

Lovely Post! You took some amazing pictures!

Izzy said...

Hi, Jake
This reminds me (although they're totally different species of birds) of when I saw a HUGE group of starlings in France. I mean, there was practically MILLIONS. We were next to the sea in the evening and suddenly starlings started appearing from appearing from nowhere. Did you know a group of starlings doing a 'dance' in the sky ins called a 'murmuration'?

Jack N said...

Hi Jake!
I have spent the weekend at Cannock Chase, one of the UK's deer hotspots, which has fallow, sika, red, roe and muntjac deer.On the first day me and my sister went deer tracking and stumbled across a mysterious deer skull with sawn off antlers and several bones from the same deer(I suspect poachers were involved).I took it home.I have IDed it as sika.Today we went tracking again and saw a live one!

Ric Morris said...

Hi Jake and Dad...
Amazing photos of the geese... Have you heard of an American bird photographer named Arthur Morris? No relation. He has some sensational blurred and impressionistic images of geese taking off from roosts in New Mexico. Check out Birds as Art dot com.

Jake said...

@Chrysallis Designs:Thanks ! Dad took most of the pictures.
@Izzy : I haven't seen one but the saw the ones they showed on Autumnwatch last year.
@Jack: cool find !
@Ric: I've not heard of him but I'll have a look now. Thanks !

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