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Thetford-based British Trust for Ornithology keeping track of the birds

PUBLISHED: 12:14 28 June 2012

A Canada goose with a neck collar

A Canada goose with a neck collar

Archant

A gaggle of geese experienced a hectic evening earlier this week as a new project was launched to track their movements in a bid to learn more about interactions with people.

Experts from the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), based in Thetford, attached brightly-coloured neck collars to the birds in the hope people will inform the organisation of their whereabouts.

About 14 Canada and greylag geese were caught at the BTO’s Nunnery Lakes reserve on Monday evening and each was fitted with the easily-identifiable loose fitting collar, printed with unique letters and numbers.

Head of projects at the BTO Nigel Clark said the idea was to try to limit conflict between the birds and people living nearby. “There have been problems in some areas and it’s trying to understand what’s going on with populations rather than waiting until they’re screaming about it,” he added.

“We know geese have got into crops and they can do a lot of damage and in many places their droppings are slip hazards on paths as well. What we’re trying to do is understand why the birds move around the environment so we can make the right decision if we have to control them in some way.”

The project, which is being funded by the BTO, will be extended to include more geese in the coming weeks, depending on numbers, or alternatively next year. The collars will remain on the birds for the duration of their lives.

Mr Clark said he was hoping for between 10 and 20 sightings of the geese each year, and added: “We’re at the start of a much bigger problem and we want to understand how the geese move across East Anglia.

“Once we’ve got them marked we can re-site them and people can easily see them.

“What we’re interested to know is if it’s the same birds each year coming to sites like this or if it’s different and the population is mixing a bit. We really don’t know how much movement there is.”

A second population of geese in the Norfolk broads will also have neck collars fitted and its movements contrasted with those from the Nunnery Reserve.

Anybody who spots a ringed bird should go to the website www.ring.ac, or visit the BTO website at www.bto.org.

rebecca.gough@archant.co.uk

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