Snettisham 21st November - Pink footed Geese at dawn

You all remember yesterday's weather, yes? Well by pure coincidence it was the day my brother and I had booked, 3 weeks ago, to take part in a guided dawn walk in the hope of seeing the many thousands of pink footed (feeted?) Geese taking flight from their roost on the Reserve to their feeding grounds inland.

To go or not to go? was the question given the weather forecast - complicated by the 125 mile drive and 3.30am start it would entail to get us there from our homes in South Yorkshire. Did we go? Silly question, we're birders! And so at 6.15am, at the end of our 2 1/2 hour drive, we pulled into the pitch dark and driving rain enveloping Snettisham car park. We were met by two volunteer guides, one of whom was accompanied by his lady wife, and about a dozen other birders clearly as barmy as ourselves.

After a 1.5 kilometre torchlit walk, accompanied by the plaintive and eerie calls of Curlew and the grumbles of waking geese, we arrived at our destination along the beach just before dawn. Slowly the sky began to lighten, but never beyond the level of gloomy, and gradually we began to discern the shapes of the thousands of Pinkies as they began to stir and move out on the mudflats. As the movement and noise level began to rise so did our hopes and expectations. We were not to be disappointed as soon the birds began taking off - not all together as I gather they sometimes do, but in groups of varying (but always impressive) size.

For the next 20 or 30 minutes we were transfixed as wave after wave of geese filled the skies to provide a memorable spectacle which I for one will never forget. Another tick on the bucket list :)

I did attempt photos, more in hope than expectation,  and make no apologies for the poor quality of the shots appended below for the record.

As the numbers of geese dwindled we turned our attentions to the other side of the spit of land on which we were standing, a freshwater lake with other interesting occupants. More on that to follow.

  • See Gull, Your photos give a good indication of the views and I imagine not only the sight but the sound was fantastic.

    Kind regards, Ann

  • In reply to Gardenbirder:

    What a wonderful sight that must have been Ian, impressive numbers of pinkies and just like a starling murmuration you never forget the experience of seeing such a spectacle.   Your photos really show the numbers well and I can almost hear the geese as they took off from their roost.  Certainly worth the early start so very well done to all you brave early birders and the distances you travelled.  


    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • In reply to HAZY:

    How envious I am of your stamina & dedication Ian!


     2013 photos & vids here

    eff37 on Flickr

  • In reply to WendyBartter:

    That must have been an amazing experience, Ian. I admire your fortitude which was deservedly rewarded. I don't think anyone would have dragged me out of bed at 3:30 on a winter's morning.



    My Flickr Photostream 

  • In reply to TeeJay:

    It was well worth it Tony, honestly - but I have no plans to repeat it any time soon!

  • In reply to see gull:

    Well done Ian on your day out, as you say it looks like it was certainly worth the early start.

    My Flickr photos

  • In reply to Alan:

    When I first tried to reply I was getting an "access denied" message!!!

    My Flickr photos

  • In reply to Alan:

    It is always a great sight to watch large numbers of geese on the move even our everyday species like Greylag and Canada. It can be interesting trying to i.d. distant flocks by the shape of their skeins and the differing calls.


    Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can

  • In reply to Seaman:

    Yes the end justified the means Al. The Dawn Chorus walks next Spring will be a piece of cake (or a full English!) by comparison!

    Thanks Pete, to be honest I wouldn't have had a clue what species they were without the help of the local experts.

  • In reply to see gull:

    Great stuff Ian. I've been lucky enough to see the Pink-foot's taking off exactly as you describe it, and as you say, an unforgettable experience.

    My bird photos HERE