Daily movements and habitat use by radio-tagged Pink-footed Geese Anser brachyrhynchus wintering in northeast Scotland

Jean-François Giroux, Ian J Patterson


Daily movements and habitat use by ten radio-marked Pink-footed Geese were studied in northeast Scotland during winter and spring. The time spent by geese away from the roost during a day increased throughout the study, whereas the proportion of time allocated to feeding decreased from 75% in winter to 54% in spring. Pink-footed Geese spent most of their time on grasslands and cereal stubble and made little use of winter cereals. The attractiveness of cereal stubble was indicated by the larger distance travelled by geese to reach this crop, by the larger flock size observed in this habitat and by the tendency of the birds to return to stubble following a disturbance. On a daily basis, each goose concentrated its activities in 1 km located predominantly within 5 km of a roost. Individual birds had overlapping seasonal ranges of 50 km totalling more than 100 km for the ten birds. Repeated use of some sites by the marked birds indicated the presence of activity centres and fidelity to specific areas. Considering the ranging behaviour of Pink-footed Geese, creation of small management units of 1 km each, scattered within a 100 km area centred on the roosts, could be a better approach to reduce goose damage than the establishment of a single large reserve. The land within these units could be incorporated into a set-aside scheme by which farmers would be compensated to retain stubble cereal fields and to improve grasslands.

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