Pink-footed Geese. By Steve Connor

Pink-footed Geese are seen and heard quite often through the winter months in the WVBS
area, often in flocks numbering in the hundreds, but almost all records are of birds flying over,
with them very rarely seen ‘on the deck’ hereabouts.
The two photos above are of a group in a field only just inside the WVBS area, just North of
Swaffham, where a sizeable flock of up to 345 birds fed and rested for at least a few days during
late November 2020, in the company of Pigeons, Skylarks and Buntings. The field which they
frequented was of maize stubble.
Norfolk’s winter visiting ‘Pink-feet’ are historically linked to fields of harvested sugar beet. A
number of factors have contributed to a much-reduced yield from the beet crops this autumn,
and also farmers are increasingly ploughing the sugar beet’s roots back into the soil soon after
harvesting. The reason behind this is that the remnants of the crop which remain will then
enrich the soil with more nutrients and nitrates, which in turn produces a much-improved cereal
crop for the next harvest.
This practice, however, reduces the feeding sites available for the geese, and they are forced
to search harder for new spots, and, this winter in particular, a good number of flocks are moving
further inland to find new feeding areas, with some being seen South of the A47. Maize stubble
can also get ploughed back into the soil, but unploughed fields have proved to be a suitable
substitute for the beet fields.
Goose flocks can be surprisingly inconspicuous when silently feeding or resting in fields,
especially in tall stubble such as maize, but hopefully searches of a few local areas may find
more maize stubble fields holding Pink-feet flocks, and perhaps even other species could be
found among them, such as Tundra Bean Geese or White-fronted Geese.

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