RSPB Column: Six geese a’local – the district’s goose guide

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat. But do you know much about the geese that live in our area? Well, there are several different kinds of geese around Spalding. In traditional carol style, six geese. Though not all of them will be a-laying. Some live here all year round, others come as winter visitors.

Greylag geese are maybe the stereotypical goose. Large, brown and noisy with a honking great orange bill. They were domesticated centuries ago, but over time some escaped. More recently Canada geese were introduced from (oddly enough) Canada as curiosities for stately homes, from where they escaped and bred. Larger than greylag geese, they have grey bodies and black and white necks and heads.

Both of those live here all year, but the other four types come for the winter. At Frampton Marsh, we get huge numbers of brent geese, in from the Arctic where they nest. Small, dumpy, with dark grey bodies and a black head and neck.

Pink-footed geese look like smaller, darker greylag geese, but with a small dark bill instead of a large orange one.

And yes, they do have pink feet! Halfway in size between the greylag and pink-footed goose, and looking similar to both, is the white-fronted goose. This gets its name from a large white patch at the base of the orange beak.

Completing the sextet is the barnacle goose. Looking a bit like a Canada goose, this is smaller and rather neater looking with black and white colours. Again, they all breed further north and come here to escape the cold winter weather.

So that is your six geese to look out for over Christmas. If you come down to Frampton Marsh, you can see all of them here, then warm up again with a hot chocolate in our visitor centre. It’s a great way to work off all those mince pies!

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