Wintering geese refuges

Friday, December 22nd 2017

Much of the marshland habitats once used by wintering geese has now been lost, having been drained and given over to agriculture. At times this has led to a conflicts of interest between farmers and the birds that have now shifted thier diets from Glasswort mudflats, tidal saltmarsh grasses, and fen vegetation to a diet of crop plants.

Providing and managing refuges for geese, such as the upland fens and grassland areas found dotted about the reserve, is of utmost importance. Although grass is a very important part of the diet of geese they are very inefficient feeders, being unable to make use of the cellulose which makes up the bulk of grass biomass. 

As a consequence geese spend 95% of their time eating grass during the winter months, and prefer areas of open ground with clear views and low disturbance. 

Today we have been trying to ensure that refuge areas ideal for wintering geese are kept short (about 8cm or 3 inches) in the hope of encouraging them to return to Foxglove.

The raised area of grass to the north west of the lake offers an ideal refuge for wintering geese when managed properly. The grassy banks coupled with access to an abundance of clean lake water will hopefully tempt a few more winter visitors.


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