Many of you will have noticed the spectacular skeins of pink-footed geese which have recently been flying over the village. If you haven't seen them, then likely you have heard their honking call!
The geese we see are mainly roosting in the Dee Estuary within the Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB site and fly south to graze on grain, winter cereals, potatoes and grass on the Cheshire and Shropshire farmlands during the day.
There can be many hundreds of birds flying together in spectacular formations. You can see them rising from their grazing places, during which they make the most spectacular noise, before grouping together and setting off for their roost most afternoons from the Cheshire Sandstone Ridge.
The aerodynamic shape of the formation is maintained but the lead bird continually changes to conserve energy.
The pink-footed goose is a medium-sized goose, smaller than a mute swan but bigger than a mallard. It is pinkish grey with a dark head and neck, a pink bill and pink feet and legs as can be seen in the attached images. This species does not breed in the UK, but about 400,000 birds spend the winter here, arriving from their breeding grounds in Spitsbergen, Iceland and Greenland. Numbers in the UK are on the increase, probably due to better protection at winter roosts. 10 years ago, none over-wintered on the Dee, but now the number has grown to about 23,000 birds.
(image David Tipling)