The number of migrating pink-footed goose at the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Montrose Basin Wildlife Reserve reached a high of 72,350 this year.
The first few hundred geese arrived from Iceland and Greenland on 19 September and just five days later there were 30,000. The peak count was made by rangers and volunteers on 16 October.
Numbers are rapidly falling as the pink-footed geese move on to wetlands in the east of England. A small amount will winter on the Basin until spring triggers the return to their northerly breeding grounds.
The largest number of pink-footed geese ever recorded on the Basin, an estimated 90,000 birds, came in October 2016.
Despite the departure of the pinkfeet there is still plenty to see at the Basin, including kingfishers and large numbers of wintering ducks.
Anna Cowie, the Trust’s Montrose Basin Ranger, said: “The crowds of pink-footed geese disperse almost as quickly as they gather, which makes the spectacle created by huge numbers even more special to see and hear.
“The Basin is a superb resting place for them. They’re relatively well protected from predators, and there are large areas of surrounding farmland where they can find food.
“Montrose Basin is also a fantastic place to see a wide range of wildlife throughout the winter. Kingfishers are regularly seen, and this is a great time of year to spot wintering ducks. We counted almost 10,000 wigeon here at the start of November, and there are also hundreds of shelduck and teal to be seen.”
The pink-footed geese were briefly joined by a rare sighting last month. On 19 October a solitary Ross’s goose was spotted among the crowds. This species is rarely found outside of North America and the bird spotted on the Basin is likely to have escaped from captivity.
Our Montrose Basin Visitor Centre is currently open from Friday to Monday, 10:30am-4pm.