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Where are the geese? Scottish fowlers report low numbers of pinks

Wildfowlers have raised concerns over very low numbers of pink footed geese in Scotland.

The bulk of pink footed geese should have arrived on the northern and eastern  coasts of Scotland by now. However there appear to be very low numbers of the birds at several key sites.

Wildfowler Gary Bruce was among those raising the alarm over the very low numbers. Gary told Shooting Times: “We are seeing far far fewer pinks than we would normally expect at this time of year. Some of the farms on which we shoot are practically deserted and others are a long way down on the typical counts for this time of year.”

Counts from the Montrose basin do appear to support the claims of low numbers of pink footed geese. Over the last three years, goose counts in the basin have typically peaked at between 65,000 and 84,000 pink footed geese in mid to late October. However, the highest count so far this year has been just 42,000 geese.

Wildfowlers on the Solway also reported lower than normal numbers of pink footed geese. Iceland has experienced an outbreak of bird flu over the summer as migrating wildfowl took the disease back there from the wintering grounds further south. However there is nothing to suggest that pink footed geese have been particularly hard hit. The summer goose count numbers from Iceland are not yet available and wildfowl experts were not keen to comment until better data is available. However the general view among the scientists Shooting Times spoke to was that warm weather and westerly winds have probably delayed migration this year and that the missing geese will arrive when the weather changes.

North coast wildfowler Alan Gunn was dismissive of this, saying: “I have known the geese arrive late in previous years when the wind has been consistently against them, but this is far beyond what we have experienced in the past, it’s really very worrying.”