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Picture gallery: Thousands of pink-footed geese fly over Holkham

PUBLISHED: 15:14 10 January 2011

Holkham; Pink-Footed Geese arrive at Holkham on their migration from Iceland and Greenland

Holkham; Pink-Footed Geese arrive at Holkham on their migration from Iceland and Greenland

Archant

One of Britain’s greatest wildlife sights drew the crowds in North Norfolk this afternoon. (Saturday).

The weather was crisp and bright as people of all ages gathered to see thousands of pink-footed geese come into roost at Holkham National Nature Reserve.

Up to 50,000 of the geese, with their distinctive pink legs, feet and bills, are spending the winter months in the area, travelling from Iceland and Greenland to take advantage of the milder climate.

The geese spend their time feeding on the farmland, but take refuge on the saltmarsh and grazing marsh to roost after dark.

Natural England arranged a number of family-friendly activities including a quiz and face painting, but the main event came at dusk when about 4,000 pink-footed geese flew overhead.

They took off like a Mexican wave - their wings drumming thunderously - and flew only a short distance while filling the air with wave after wave of calls.

The geese settled in a nearby field only to be disturbed by a light aircraft - much to the delight of onlookers.

“They’re lifting off again!” called summer warden Andy Bloomfield. “It’s fantastic! If one is disturbed, the whole flock goes. They are not the most beautiful birds individually, the magic of geese is the sheer number of them.”

Pink-footed geese came to Holkham in vast numbers in the 1800s, but deserted Norfolk during the second world war when the coast was used as a firing range.

They did not return until about 30 years ago and there were unprecedented numbers in the 1990s, with up to 100,000 visiting the area.

See the EDP on Monday for a full report and pictures.

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