The Pink-footed Pound

Photo: Pink-footed Geese in Lancashire (Tony Disley Wildlife Artist)

How a species of goose, one of the stars of the film “The Big Year”, that migrates to the North for the winter, is contributing to the economy

Movie enthusiasts might recall the sight of a Pink-footed Goose on a lake on a mountain-top as a pivotal scene in the US birding comedy film “The Big Year” with Steve Martin, Jack Black & Owen Wilson

A Pink-footed Goose revolution is happening in the North-West with record numbers of birds during the winter of 2014/15 attracting record numbers of visitors to the region to witness the spectacular sight

In October, Martin Mere Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Reserve in Lancashire saw counts of up to 45,800 birds arriving from their breeding grounds on Spitsbergen (Norway), Iceland and Greenland, and more than 16,000 birds were counted on The Fylde, at Pilling Marsh

Lancashire is the county in the North that benefits most financially from this phenomena with thousands of EcoTourists visiting The Fylde, Ribble Estuary and Martin Mere – the site to see huge numbers – from September to April to see the birds, and this gives a winter boost to the Blackpool and Southport area economies, areas that usually rely on summer tourism

Birdwatchers also flocked to The Fylde during the winter to see a Snow Goose, a very rare species of goose from North America that has white plumage with black wing-tips, and so is easy to spot – at least one was seen in Lancashire, ranging from the Merseyside Mosses to the Lune Marshes, and was often seen in the potato fields of the Eagland Hill and Todderstaffe Hall area

The Snow Goose is just one of a number of rarer species that birdwatchers enjoy scanning through the flocks of Pink-feet to try and locate and identify, Lancastrian birdwatchers over the years have found Ross’s Goose, Cackling Geese, Red-breasted Goose, vagrant Canada Geese, Bean Geese, Barnacle Geese, White-fronted Geese, and Brent Geese

Pink-footed Geese were famously cited as the reason for Cuadrilla’s abandonment of the Anna’s Road fracking site on The Fylde, and there is an argument that says if they can abandon this site for environmental reasons then perhaps they should abandon all fracking !

It is most important for the birds, and the businesses that rely on these birds, that the marshes, estuaries and farmland of Lancashire are conserved and managed in a sustainable manner – long may these fantastic birds grace our fair county


Birdguides: Record numbers of Pink-footed Geese in Lancashire

Film: Pink-footed Geese at Martin Mere

BBC: Cuadrilla pulls out of fracking site

The Guardian: Cuadrilla to close Lancashire fracking site


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