A survey is being conducted in Norfolk over this weekend (13th/14th October) to establish the present population of wild geese in the county. This has been prompted by the result of a study by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust that came up with the worrying fact that the population of pink-footed geese is in decline. It is estimated that the decrease in numbers could be as high as 100,000 in the last two years.
Wells, Snettisham and Holkham are the main roosting locations for the birds in Norfolk. The geese come here from their breeding grounds in Greenland and Iceland to enjoy our milder winter climate.
The most obvious reason for the drop in numbers is that the birds are not breeding as successfully as in the past; the number of young birds in the flocks is definitely lower.
Climate change could have something to do with this as unusually late snows caused nest abandonment during this breeding season. The bad weather also added to the attrition rate in goslings, which was unusually high.
Richard Hearn of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust is the Head of Species Monitoring. He said: “What has apparently happened to the pink-footed goose population in just two years goes to show how quickly fortunes may change, even for a bird whose numbers have been steadily increasing for decades. We are very fortunate in this country to have a large and dedicated network of volunteers who help us keep tabs on these birds.”