The winter so far has been pretty mild here on the banks of the Mersey. The warmer temperatures mean there are still good numbers of invertebrates around with four species of butterfly recorded by one of our team members during a recent walk along the Trans-Pennine Trail close to the St. Helens canal.

One of the sure signs winter is here is though is the large number of pink-footed geese that can be seen around the estuary at the moment. Flocks, or skeins, of nearly 2000 geese have been seen throughout October and November as birds arrive from their summer breeding grounds in Eastern Greenland and Iceland.

Some of these birds will stay around the River Mersey, and can often be seen flying in large groups as the move from their roosting grounds to their feeding grounds, others will continue on their way to other coastal areas in the UK or further afield.

Pink-footed geese primarily feed on agricultural land favouring sugar beet and any left-over grain on stubble fields. They are easily disturbed though and are known to avoid feeding in fields that are close to roads or those that are used by walkers. Their ‘honk’ is much softer than that of the much more common greylag or Canada geese and their eerie call can often be heard at night as migrating birds pass overhead.

We’re particularly lucky to have such big numbers of this beautiful goose around the Mersey estuary and recent counts have shown numbers to be on the increase. Some positive news which is always welcome.

Join us next week where we’ll be discussing how we can provide food for insects over the winter. Good luck if you do go out looking for pink-footed geese and please remember to post any photographs you may take on our social media for us all to enjoy.

Andy – MGET Biodiversity Manager