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Why do some geese fly north and some fly south?

Sent in by Colin Davies, Aberdeen

Large numbers of pink-footed geese arrive in the UK from their breeding grounds in Greenland and Iceland. Thousands spend the winter on the eastern coast of Scotland. These birds start to arrive from early to mid September, with numbers increasing up to mid October.

They roost on estuaries and lochs where they are relatively safe from predators, with favoured sites being Loch of Strathbeg, where as many as 66,000 have been recorded, Findhorn Bay, with an estimated winter population of 25,000 and rising and the Ythan Estuary and Slain Lochs near Aberdeen, which holds around 20,000.

During the autumn and early winter mornings, pink-footed geese move from these roost sites to stubble fields, where they will feed upon spilt grain. Late afternoon sees the return flight to the roost sites, the birds' ''yak'' calls carrying for several miles on still days. I would imagine that what you are seeing is a combination of birds visibly migrating south, and birds that have already arrived moving between roost and feeding sites.

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