Geese galore flock to the Northumberland coast on annual journey

A pink footed goose. Picture: JJDA pink footed goose. Picture: JJD
A pink footed goose. Picture: JJD
Thousands of geese are currently making their annual pilgrimage to the mudflats of the Northumberland coast.

Anyone living nearby cannot fail to have seen them flying overhead in their V-shape formations in recent weeks – and probably heard their distinctive honk too – as they make their way to the likes of Holy Island, Fenham Flats and Budle Bay.

Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve (NNR) is actually the most important site for wintering birds in the North East with around 50,000 birds using the site over the colder months and many more dependent on it for passage on their way to other sites.

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Andrew Craggs, senior reserve manager, revealed: “Counts to date include over 4,000 pink-footed geese at Goswick and Cheswick taking advantage of the space and security that this part of the reserve provides. These Pink-footed geese have flown from Iceland.”

Also arriving in their thousands are light-bellied brent geese with the Lindisfarne NNR accommodating around half of the world population over the winter months.

Barnacle geese too can be seen in huge numbers with up to 30,000 in some seasons as they pass through to the Solway coast, with around 1,000 to 1,500 birds staying with on the reserve for the whole winter. Both brent and barnacle geese travel down from the Arctic where they breed.

“This year our counts of the numbers of juvenile light-bellied brent have shown a large proportion of young highlighting a good breeding season,” revealed Andrew.

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Budle Bay and Fenham Flats are also great places to witness the amazing spectacle of mass bird migration and movement.

Andrew added: “The reserve’s new viewing platform at the Budle Bay white railings offers great views of the bird life including up to 3,000 pink-footed geese flying off the roost, 1,500 barnacle geese, 1,400 wigeon, 650 teal and 800 lapwing and that was just today!

“Our two-tier hide at Fenham-le-moor also offers a great vantage to view this amazing natural spectacle.”

Visitors can help minimise disturbance to the birds by using these main vantage points and keeping dogs on lead.

Lindisfarne NNR measures 3,541-hectares (8,750-acres) and is managed by Natural England.

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