Our intrepid winter visitors

This year more than ever – in the midst of England’s second COVID lockdown, we may be struggling with the winter gloom and perhaps wishing for sunnier shores. Yet for many bird species, the UK is a favourite cold season destination.

According to a recent blog post from the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, pink-footed geese spend their summers raising chicks in places like Iceland, Greenland and on the remote arctic archipelago of Svalbard (which means cold coast in Old Norse).

As the days shorten and food gets harder to find, these intrepid geese travel in flocks down to Europe, learning the route from their family.

Pink footed geese have favoured roosting spots, but early on winter mornings, they’ll move out from these sites to nearby stubble fields to feed on spilt grain and grass. As it begins to get dark in the late afternoon the geese make the return flight to the roost sites, often in a typical V formation, and their honking calls may carry for several miles on a still day.

If you want to experience pink footed geese for yourself – along with many other migratory bird species, the Trust recommends Carr Vale near Bolsover as one of the best places to see them.

©Brett Heath photography