The first of tens of thousands of pink-footed geese have touched down at Montrose Basin Wildlife Reserve and Visitor Centre at the end of a long migration.
A dawn count on Tuesday 20 September) recorded an estimated 1,075 geese at the Basin, which is an important haven for the birds who make an annual 1,200 km journey south from Iceland and Greenland to the UK.
Numbers are expected to increase steadily and reach their peak in October. In 2015 a record 85,632 pink footed-geese were counted at the reserve.
Thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery the Trust is holding three special events to help members of the public learn about the birds, and the Visitor Centre is open daily throughout September and October.
As well as pink-footed geese the basin is home to a range of winter migrants including wigeon, teal, and greenshank. A resident kingfisher can often be seen feeding in front of the Visitor Centre.
Scottish Wildlife Trust Ranger Anna Cheshier said: “The reserve is internationally important for pink-footed geese because around one in five of the world population winters here.
“The sight of tens of thousands of geese taking off and landing en masse is one of Scotland’s natural wonders, and our Visitor Centre offers people some of the best close-up views of these incredible birds in the UK.
“Numbers have risen steadily over the last few years, so another record count is possible next month.
“A great way to find out more about the geese is by coming along to our People’s Postcode Lottery Goose Breakfast and Pink Sunset events. These events are always very popular, and thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery we can help people experience one of Scotland’s most exciting natural spectacles.”
Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery said: “Montrose Basin reserve is a haven for wintering birds and people will be excited to hear that the pink-footed geese are back for another season. We’re really pleased that players support is helping the Scottish Wildlife Trust educate the public about these special birds as well as the importance of conserving their wetland habitat.”
See the birds for yourself
There are plenty of opportunities for members of the public to see the birds at Montrose Basin Reserve. The hides and walks on the reserve are open 24 hours a day throughout the year with the best chance to see geese at dawn and dusk. The Visitor Centre is open daily from 10.30 am – 5 pm, until Tuesday 1 November when it is open Friday to Monday 10.30 am – 4 pm.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust is also hosting a People’s Postcode Lottery Goose Breakfast event on Sunday 9 October to see the geese take off from the basin as well as two Pink Sunset events on Sunday 16 and 23 October to see them return to roost from nearby fields. Booking is essential for all three events, which include either breakfast or hot soup and a roll.
More information about these events is in the Trust's Events and Activities booklet.